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Mother Earth Living: Felling a Tree December 02, 2005 12:12 PM

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December 2, 2005
Felling a Tree
by Malcolm Margolin  

To cut down a tree safely, prepare carefully and cut correctly. First determine which way the tree wants to fall: check the lean of the tree, the shape of the leafy crown, whether there is any obvious rot in the trunk and which way the wind is blowing.

Clear the area around the tree you will cut and establish an escape route. Also, cut off any low-hanging branches that may be in the way. The best tool to use is a tubular-frame bow saw or a chainsaw.

For small trees up to about 6 inches in diameter, cut about three-quarters of the way through the tree, then stand to one side and push the tree over. Pushing with a forked stick is particularly effective.

The traditional way of felling bigger trees is shown above. (To see the image, go to Mother Earth Living.) The first two cuts are on the side where you want the tree to fall. The horizontal and down-angled cuts, about a third of the way through the trunk, create a wedge-shaped opening. The final back cut, made on the opposite side about two inches above the first horizontal cut, will bring the tree down. Aim to leave a hinge of about two inches between the wedge and the back cut. This hinge will guide the tree to fall where you want, if you keep the plane of the hinge perpendicular to the direction of the fall. When you hear the hinge crack, stop sawing and move away from the tree as it falls.

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