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How to safely fell a tree

Couper un arbre - Émondage SBP

Contrary to what many people might think, felling a tree requires much more than a simple chainsaw and a bit of elbow grease. Indeed, this operation is a risky business. But by using the right tools and techniques, it’s possible to safely cut down a tree while significantly reducing the risks.

Cutting and chainsaws: the need to have the right tools

Before even thinking about starting work, it’s important to have the right tools. If all you have is an axe, then a little detour to the store is in order. Why? Well, imagine cutting a steak with a butter knife. It will be long and tough, won’t it? Plus, you’ll have a better chance of getting hurt. Chopping down a large tree with an axe is somewhat the same principle. So, to simplify your task and ensure your protection, here is a short list of equipment you will need to do the job properly and safely.

  • A chain saw
  • Protective glasses
  • Hearing protector (plugs or ear muffs)
  • Gloves
  • A helmet
  • Safety boots with protective toecap

Tree felling: inspection and analysis

Once you have all the equipment you need to make safe cuts, it’s time to proceed with the inspection and analysis of the tree you want to cut down. Several factors can influence the cut. As a first step, prune the trunk to remove any branches that might interfere with the felling cut. Then check the natural inclination of the tree, its length and diameter. Also pay special attention to “anomalies”. Does your tree have a curvature, are there signs of rot or dead branches that could compromise cutting? Is the wind strong enough to be a risk? All of these factors must be considered and thoroughly verified.

Escape path: a security issue

We can’t repeat it enough; safety is the most important thing in this kind of work. It is therefore essential to define three distinct zones.

  1. Landing Area, i. e. the area where the tree will fall. The tree does not collapse on the ground in one place by chance. It’s you, or the team of professionals you hire, who will determine where the tree should fall according to its natural inclination or the area best suited to receive the tree. How do I know if an area is adequate? It must be free of obstacles such as power lines, cars, buildings, roads, etc. Do you work with a team? Make sure everyone knows where the tree will fall.
  2. Escape Path: this is the place where to withdraw safely.
  3. Hazardous Area: This area is located all around the tree and on each side where a cut is made

How to cut a tree: cutting techniques

Although there are several techniques for safely felling a tree, let’s look at the basic technique, that is, the one combining the directional notch and the felling cut.

What’s a directional notch?

As its name suggests, the directional notch shows the direction in which the tree falls. This is a V-shaped opening made with the saw. The first saw cut must be made in the lower part of the tree at an angle of 45 degrees. The second cut, on the other hand, must be perpendicular to the ground (0 degree) and join the first cut.

What’s a felling cut?

The felling cut is a saw line perpendicular to the ground (0 degree) given on the opposite side of the directional notch. Simply, on one side of the tree you have the directional notch and on the other side the felling cut. Note that this must be done at least 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) above the tip of the directional notch.

Despite all this advice, you feel a little shy about doing the work yourself. We understand what you mean. Tree felling is a difficult art that requires rigour and precision. Feel free to contact a tree felling and pruning company such as Émondage SBP and let professionals take care of everything.