In this article, I will be giving you tips on how to cut a tree trunk.

It could be a tough task taking down a full-grown tree. Some trunks are cut for lumber while some are cut because the tree has become a hazard.

What You Will Need To Cut A Tree Trunk

There are several tools you could use to cut a tree trunk. Some may be manual tools (like an ax), while some are power tools like a chainsaw.

The size of the trunk will determine the kind of tools you will need. The major tools you will need to cut a tree trunk are listed below.

  • Chainsaw (for thicker trunks)
  • An ax (if you’re the old school type)
  • A pair of gloves (to protect your palms from blisters)
  • Safety helmet (to protect your head from falling parts of the tree)
  • Safety goggles (to protect eyes from flying clippings)
  • Thick-soled boots (to avoid being pierced in the foot by sharp pieces of wood or thorns)
  • Strong nylon ropes (to guide the tree’s fall)

You will also need a few extra hands to help you with the trunk when it falls. Also, be sure to clear the area of bystanders to make sure no one is in the way of the tree when it falls.

How To Cut A Tree Trunk With A Chainsaw

A chainsaw is a powerful tool so you may believe cutting a tree trunk with it is an easy task. Well, it is not that simple.

The trunks of smaller trees may seem like a piece of cake when using a chainsaw, but what about the larger trees like Oaks and Pines?

You have to be prepared for the task ahead. Your safety gear has to be at hand and all precautionary measures must be taken.

With that being said, let’s get into the action!

  1. Make Face Cuts

The first and second cut you make into the trunk should be face cuts. A face cut refers to cutting the part of the trunk which faces the direction where you want the tree to fall.

Two face cuts will form a notch.

I recommend you cut the trunk from about 25 inches above the ground. Each cut into the trunk should go as deep as 23 – 25% of the tree’s diameter.

Use your chainsaw and make a downward cut at a 45° angle into the trunk (cut into 25% of the tree’s diameter). This should be your first cut.

The second cut should start at about 10 inches below the first cut. This should be a straight cut which should meet the very end of the first downward cut (the hinge).

There are three ways you could make face cuts. These include –

Open-faced notch – This type of notch is usually 90° wide, although it could be less (say 60°)

Conventional notch – This is the most popular type of face cut. The cut is usually made at a 45° angle. The top cut of a conventional notch is angled downwards while the lower cut is straight and flat.

Humbolt notch – This is very similar to the conventional notch, except that it is in reverse. With a Humbolt notch, the 45° angle is upside down. The top cut is straight and flat, while the bottom cut is angled upwards.

  1. Make The Back Cut

After the face, the cut has been made and the notch is formed, you can proceed to make the third cut, which is the back cut.

Move to the opposite side of the trunk and with your chainsaw, make a straight cut that is aimed at the hinge of the notch. Stop cutting when the saw is a few inches away from the hinge of the notch.

At this point, the tree is ready to fall. The trunk has been cut!

Keep in mind that the back cut you make is determined by the type of notch you made with the face cuts.

If it’s an open-faced notch, the back cut should be made at the same height as the corner of the hinge.

For a conventional notch, the back cut should be made about one or two inches above the bottom cut.

For a Humbolt notch, the back cut should be made one or two inches above the top cut.

If the tree doesn’t start falling after the back cut has been completed, then you can use a felling wedge as a lever to push the tree in its falling direction. All you have to do is place the wedge into the back cut and hit it further in with a sled hammer. This will give the tree the push it needs.

Remember to get out of the way when the tree starts to go down!

Also, remember that you don’t have to cut the trunk yourself. If you’re not up for it then I suggest you leave it to the professionals to handle.

Top 3 Chainsaws For Cutting Tree Trunk

Now that you’ve learned how to cut a tree trunk with a chainsaw, I’d like to recommend some of the best chainsaws for cutting tree trunks.

Keep in mind that the size of the trunk will determine the kind of chainsaw you will use.

You also have to consider several factors before you buy a chainsaw. These factors include –

  • Weight of the chainsaw
  • Size of the chainsaw
  • The handles (non-slip grip)
  • Blades
  • Noise production
  • Corded or cordless chainsaw
  • Price

Here are my 3 best chainsaws for cutting tree trunks.

  1. Remington RM 4214 Chainsaw

This 14-inch gas-powered chainsaw is a popular choice for both homeowners and professional lumberjacks.

It has an automatic oiling system that keeps the chain lubricated at all times. It also produces little vibration.

  1. Remington RM 4216 Chainsaw

This is another chainsaw from Remington which guarantees super sharp cuts into your tree trunk. It is a 16-inch gas-powered chainsaw and it pretty much has the same features as the 4214, the main difference being the long bar of course.

It also has an automatic oiling system that keeps the chain well lubricated, and it comes with anti-vibration technology.

The best part of this chainsaw is that it’s relatively cheaper than other 16-inch bar chainsaws in the market. So you’ll be getting good value at a lower price.

  1. Husqvarna 460 Chainsaw

This is a 24-inch gas-powered chainsaw and it is no child’s play! It is built to cut into large tree trunks and it is widely used by professionals.

It comes with an upgraded X-torq technology that reduces smoke emissions by a whopping 60% and gas consumption by 20%. This means it isn’t just eco friendly, it will also help you save money since you’ll be buying less gas.

It also comes with the major features you would want in any chainsaw. These include low vibration and an automatic oiling system.

How To Cut A Tree Trunk With An Axe

For those old school lumberjacks, cutting a tree trunk with an ax may be regarded as culture (or even fun). I would not want to go through the stress of using an ax when a chainsaw makes the job easier.

For others who may want to use a chainsaw but can’t get their hands on one, then an ax may be the only option.

Cutting a tree trunk with an ax requires the same steps as cutting with a chainsaw, only that you’ll be doing a lot of swinging.

Step 1: Make the face cuts

For a conventional notch, you will first chop at 45° into the trunk. This cut should be made facing the direction where you want the tree to fall. The next step is to make a second cut by chopping straight a few inches below the top angled cut.

Step 2: Make the back cuts

After you form a notch, you will go to the opposite side of the tree and chop into the trunk at a straight angle facing the hinge. When you have chopped up to a point a few inches away from the hinge, the tree will be ready to fall.

As I said earlier, chopping with an ax will require a lot of swinging, which means you may tire out easily, especially if you’ve never done it before.

Choosing The Best Axe For Cutting Tree Trunks

When choosing an ax for your tree trunk, the first thing you will need to consider is the size of the trunk you wish to cut.

Another aspect of the ax you should look at it’s the length and weight. A heavy ax will only slow you down and make the job harder.

You also have to choose between a fiber-glass handle ax or a wooden handle ax. I will pick the wooden handle ax since the wooden handle will be easy and cheaper to replace if it gets broken.

You also need to consider the head of the ax. The steel needs to be sharp and hard enough to easily cut the trunk.


I hope this article on how to cut a tree trunk has been helpful.

Stay safe!

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