Making the Cut

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You want to always plan your cuts carefully. Trees that are up to 6 inches in diameter are small trees and may be cut through with one pass.

However, larger trees, which are over 6 inches in diameter, may require a series of cuts.

The first cut you will make is called the “face cut,” and will be made on the side of the tree that you want it to fall. You will be making a series of two cuts that will form a 45-degree angle. You want to make the bottom cut of the notch first, approximately 1/3 of the way through the diameter of the tree trunk. The next cut will be made at a 45-degree angle, which will meet the depth of your first cut.

The next cut you will make is called the back-cut or the felling cut. This is made on the opposite side of the face cut and about 2 inches higher than where you made the bottom cut of the notch. Do not cut all the way through the tree; stop at a point that will leave a hinge approximately 1/8 to 1/6 of the diameter of the tree, but can vary depending on when the tree begins to fall.

The moment the tree starts to fall, shut off the chainsaw, safely set it down, never throw down your chainsaw, and leave the area on your planned escape route. You do not want to return to the area until the tree is safely fallen, and is no longer moving.

There are a few times when a tree will happen to be perfectly balanced and will not fall after a back cut has been made. In cases such as this, two plastic wedges can be used to start the fall of the tree as well as influence its direction. It is always best to use two wedges along with a sled that faces is 1/3 bigger than the wedge face. Plastic wedges are preferred because they are safer, and do not harm the saw chain teeth. Never attempt to use an axe as a wedge or as a driver. Axes were not designed for this duty and can shatter causing injury to your or another individual. In addition, you always want to remove your chainsaw when you or your partner is driving wedges into the cut. You want to carefully strike the wedge so that it will not pop out of the cut and cause the tree to fall backward on top of you.

Once you have safely fallen a tree, your work isn’t over. Your next task is limbing, which is the cutting off of branches from felled or standing trees. Once this has been accomplished, you will buck the tree. Bucking is when you saw the felled trees into logs. When limbing and bucking, this has to be done on the uphill side of the tree or log, where you can predict the rolling or slide of the logs. Always use precautions, such as chocks to ensure the trees are in a stable position. Remember safety should always come first.

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