Falling a tree

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Forum topic by BentheViking posted 02-16-2012 03:55 PM 1798 views 0 times favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1759 posts in 1608 days

02-16-2012 03:55 PM

My mother in law wants me to take down a pair of dead trees on the edge of the woods behind her house. They are probably 6” around and 30 some odd feet high. I told her that I don’t have an experience in this, but after she said she thought she might just go down and cut em down (she is 60 and disabled) I figured I’d better get some more info.

Also I don’t have a chainsaw so could I use a bow saw? Should I buy or borrow a chainsaw?

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

41 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2118 days

#1 posted 02-16-2012 04:03 PM

First, I assume you mean 6” in diameter (not 6” around).

I’ve cut trees that big down with a cordless reciprocating saw. A bow saw would also work fine.

You may have a risk of the tree falling into a building. However, a tree this small would do very little damage.

Make a wedge cut from the side that you want the tree to fall. The wedge should go 2/3rds of the way through the tree. Then cut into the wedge from the opposite side and stand back. Don’t forget to yell “TIMBER” as it falls.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16100 posts in 3262 days

#2 posted 02-16-2012 04:08 PM

What Rich said!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View oldretiredjim's profile


196 posts in 1429 days

#3 posted 02-16-2012 04:35 PM

Whatever saw you use make sure the cut is slightly above the wedge or the tree can sit down on the saw blade. At that point it will want to come backward. For that small tree I would also cut at a slight downward angle. And understand that the upper branches can influence the way the tree falls including twisting. Before starting to cut anything make sure you know where your escape route is and make sure the route is clear. If you are unfamiliar with dropping a tree have a second person in the area observing the operation. That way if something goes not right there will be help available.

View crank49's profile


3879 posts in 2014 days

#4 posted 02-16-2012 05:09 PM

All good advice.
I have cut hardwood up to 16” with a 30” bow saw.
Had no choice, ice storm broke 12 big trees down across my drive way.
And, my chain saw was in town being serviced.

Don’t try this on a windy day.
If possible have a spare saw or sharp axe or hatchet handy in case the tree binds your saw in the cut.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View jerkylips's profile


259 posts in 1614 days

#5 posted 02-16-2012 05:49 PM

another option, you should be able to rent a chainsaw at Home Depot. If you only need it a couple hours, I can’t imagine it would be more than $30 or so. Once the tree is down, you’ll probably want to buck it up too. I wouldn’t want to do all that with a bow saw.

So…..that said…..using a chainsaw isn’t rocket science, but if you haven’t used one before BE CAREFUL!!!!!!

View xwingace's profile


204 posts in 1632 days

#6 posted 02-16-2012 11:29 PM

Remember, for a 30 foot tree, park your car at leat 35 feet away!
And yeah, whatever you do, be as safe as you can.

-- I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was.

View Loren's profile


7967 posts in 2691 days

#7 posted 02-16-2012 11:57 PM

Felling a small tree is not too difficult, but it will fall before you
cut all the way through it and it probably won’t fall exactly where
you’ve planned, so go carefully and give yourself room to run
away fast if the tree falls unexpectedly.

You can do it with a sharp axe without too much trouble. Felling
is done with notched cuts whether you use a chain saw or an
axe. As Rich said, you can do it with a reciprocating saw too.
Working with chain saws is best done after reading up about
them because as you know they can be dangerous if used


View dhazelton's profile


1646 posts in 1340 days

#8 posted 02-17-2012 12:01 AM

Stand under the tree and look overhead at the umbrella to see where the center of the mass is – if it’s not in line with the trunk, the tree will want to fall in that direction. If it’s in a direction you don’t want it to fall in, then pick up a felling wedge at HD or Lowes or Tractor supply. When you cut far enough into the trunk on your back cut, pound that wede in with a hammer or mallet to drive the tree where you want it to go. You don’t need to make a hinge cut 2/3 of the trees diameter, that’s overkill. A huge tree will stand upright on a 1 inch hinge, and won’t fall until you drive that wedge (look on youtube for ‘Game of Logging’ or for the proper procedure). If you are near an outlet or have access to a generator I would get a small electric chainsaw. You can cut up the wood with it afterwards for firewood or dinky turning blanks. Give yourself an escape path at a 45 degree angle BACK from the falling tree.

View allmyfingers's profile


40 posts in 1690 days

#9 posted 02-17-2012 12:07 AM

quite simply,

-- I cut it 3 times and it was still too short?!?

View dhazelton's profile


1646 posts in 1340 days

#10 posted 02-17-2012 12:58 AM

Allmyfingers makes a point. Look up ‘barberchair’ in logging terms and you’d be surprised at what could go wrong with a small tree. I wear chaps, a helmet with ear and eye protectionand kevlar gloves when using a chainsaw. Chaps are cheaper than a trip to the ER to get your leg sutured up. Find a friend who’s done it and give him the wood or some beer and gas money for his guidance/

View BentheViking's profile


1759 posts in 1608 days

#11 posted 02-17-2012 01:01 AM

Wow thank you everyone for the responses. Let me explain a little bit more about the trees. They are approx 6” in diameter and straight as an arrow. No branches or anything. Basically just a big long stick. I think that at some point I may try to use a recip to get through it. I’ve watched them cut down trees on Ax Men enough to have at least a bit of an idea about it and if worse comes to worse and it started to come down in the wrong direction I could just push it how where I want it.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Scot's profile


344 posts in 2440 days

#12 posted 02-17-2012 01:18 AM

From your description of the trees, they may be rotten. The tops of rotten trees sometimes break off while falling and usually fall in the opposite direction of the rest of the tree.

Be very careful and don’t do it alone.

Now, you could redneck it like we do down here in Alabama.
1) Drink lots of beer before hand
2) Just before you start yell out, Hey ya’ll, watch this !
3) Call the paramedics

-- If the old masters had power tools, they would have used them. So get off your damn High Horse.

View allmyfingers's profile


40 posts in 1690 days

#13 posted 02-18-2012 02:23 PM

i live in westchester too, and wouldn’t mind helping you out.

-- I cut it 3 times and it was still too short?!?

View KMT's profile


594 posts in 1706 days

#14 posted 02-18-2012 03:04 PM

If you have buildings and / or power lines nearby, hire someone to do this job.

-- - Martin

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 1720 days

#15 posted 02-19-2012 10:08 AM

Professionals refer to standing dead trees as “widowmakers” because of their propensity to rain chunks of dead wood down upon the feller, killing them.

-- Scott, North Carolina,

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