Dealing With Trees

How to Fell a Tree (With an Axe)


So you’ve got an old tree in your back yard that needs to be got rid off. Yeah, you could pay a tree surgeon or a gardener to come in and take care of it for you whilst you hide away inside watching football on TV.

Maybe you’ll go a step further and fire up the old, rusty chainsaw from the garage and safely take care of it yourself.

Good for you.

But maybe you’ll want to go the extra step. Re-engage that pioneer, manifest destiny spirit and get back in touch with your illustrious forebears. Maybe, just for an afternoon, you might want to walk in the steps of the tough guys (and gals) who made this country great in the first place.










Photo credit


If you do, grab yourself an axe and follow me!


First off – lets just get this out there now, only chop down trees that a) you have permission to chop down and b) actually need to be felled. Don’t attack your neighbor’s bushes and don’t show up in the local park with an axe.

Oh, and wear safety goggles! No, the original pioneers didn’t wear goggles, you know why? Because they didn’t have any! But you can be sure they would have worn them if they could – no one looks cool with an inch long splinter embedded in their eyeball.

Once you’re sure you’ve found the right tree, start by clearing the base and the immediate area around it off any fallen leaves, braches, etc.

You want a nice, clear working space.


Next up, decide what direction you want to the tree to fall. If you have to be told to aim falling trees away from your house then you probably shouldn’t be using an axe in the first place.

Start with a 45-degree angle chop on the side you want the tree to fall on. Cut in about 15% of the way into the tree, and then do the same again at a point slightly lower down – you’re aiming to take out a notch of the tree.

Follow this with a similar shaped cut on the opposite side of the tree, a few inches higher than the first cut. This time you need to cut about 50% of the way through the tree.


You will now have a lump of trunk, about 35% of the overall thickness of the tree, holding it upright – this is you hinge.

The tree will likely begin to fall over as you finish the second cut – if not give it a gentle (very gentle!) push or use a wedge in the second cut. As the tree topples, move quickly and calmly in the opposite direction. Do not take your eyes off the tree until it is safely on the ground.


Crack open a beer, take a moment to admire your handiwork – then clean everything up, and make sure you put the tree – now officially lumber, congratulations – to good use.