How to Cut Tree on Ground With a Chainsaw? A Guide for 2024

how to cut tree on ground with a chainsaw
Cutting down a tree and processing the wood can be an extremely useful and satisfying skill. However, using a chainsaw to cut a tree that has already fallen requires proper technique and safety precautions. In this guide, I’ll share my firsthand experience with the steps and best practices for cutting a tree safely and efficiently after it’s on the ground.

How to Cut a Tree on the Ground with a Chainsaw?

How to Cut Tree on Ground With a Chainsaw? A Guide for 2024 Cutting up a fallen tree is one of the most common uses for a chainsaw. While it may seem simple, there are some important techniques to follow for optimal safety, precision, and control when making cuts along the tree trunk and branches.

Assessing the Situation

Before starting up the chainsaw, take a moment to carefully evaluate the tree you’ll be cutting. Note the size and positioning of the tree trunk and branches. Look for any signs of tension or compression in the wood. Identify potential hazards like terrain issues or nearby structures. Be aware of any limbs, roots, or debris that could interfere with cutting. Taking the time to fully assess the situation will allow you to plan the safest and most strategic approach.

Preparing the Chainsaw

Proper chainsaw maintenance and preparation is crucial for smooth cutting and preventing injuries. Thoroughly inspect the saw to ensure the chain is sharp, has proper tension, and is adequately lubricated. A loose or dull chain is more likely to bind or kickback. Check that the bar and chain are getting sufficient oil, and top it off if needed. Refer to the owner’s manual for guidance on optimal chain tension and lubrication for your particular chainsaw make and model. A well-maintained chainsaw with a sharp chain is essential for safe and easy cutting.

Making the Initial Cuts

Once ready, make your first cut about two-thirds of the way through the log. Don’t try to cut all the way through in one pass, as this risks the chainsaw getting pinched. Stop before reaching the bottom and carefully pull the saw out to make your next cut. Making incremental cuts prevents overexertion and allows you to regularly clear chips and sawdust. Pay attention to signs of the chainsaw starting to bind such as increased resistance. Release the throttle and pull the saw out gently if this occurs.

Techniques for Larger Logs

Cutting large, thick tree trunks requires added caution and strategy. Start by making a shallow downward angled notch on the compression side to establish the direction of the fall. Next, make an upward cut from the underside to meet the notch. This is an effective technique for logs too large to cut from the top down. The notch gives you more control over the direction the log will shift as it separates. Go slowly to avoid pinching the chainsaw.

Finishing the Cut

Once your initial cuts are made, line up to finish severing the log from the top side. Maintain full control as you cut through the last portion. Ensure the tree won’t shift or drop unexpectedly onto your chainsaw. Shut off the saw and set it safely aside before moving the severed log. Take care not to ever fully extend your arms or pinch the saw as you finish the cut.

Practicing the Techniques

Mastering chainsaw operation takes time and practice. I’d recommend getting experience cutting smaller logs before moving on to large diameter trunks. Repeated practice builds muscle memory and confidence for making precise cuts safely. Invest time early on practicing the various chainsaw techniques to develop skills and prevent accidents. Proper handling will become second nature with experience. Don’t let overconfidence lead to shortcuts – safety should always come first.

Chainsaw Safety Tips

Running a chainsaw poses a number of inherent hazards, from sharp cutting surfaces to potential kickback. However, the risk of injury can be minimized by always prioritizing safety and following good operational practices. Here are some key chainsaw safety essentials to keep in mind.

Personal Protective Equipment

The right safety gear can mean the difference between a close call and a trip to the emergency room. Chaps, steel-toe boots, hard hat, eye protection, ear plugs, and gloves capable of stopping a running chain should be considered mandatory when using a chainsaw. Avoid loose clothing that could get pulled into moving parts. Personal protective equipment helps shield your body from harm, but should not replace caution and proper handling of your saw.

Chainsaw Maintenance

A well-tuned saw is a safe saw. Regularly inspect your chainsaw and perform needed maintenance according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Make sure the chain brake is functioning properly. Address any issues, like a lack of bar and chain oil, before use. Vibration and kickback increase dramatically with a dull chain, so sharpen the teeth regularly. Also clean the air filter, check the muffler, and inspect components for damage. Proper care and maintenance will improve performance and safety.

Proper Cutting Techniques

Adhere to safe operating procedures at all times. Grip the handles firmly with both hands while maintaining secure footing. Run the saw at full throttle when cutting to avoid kickback. Be extremely cautious of reactive forces that can occur as the chain contacts the wood. Use the chainsaw’s lower quadrant below shoulder height whenever possible. Improper techniques like one-hand operation dramatically raise the likelihood of accidents. Chainsaw kickback and other hazards can often be avoided by smart cutting practices.

Additional Chainsaw Applications

Chainsaws aren’t limited to just cutting logs on the ground. With care and proper method, they can also fell and process standing trees.

Tree Felling

Felling requires meticulous planning and step-by-step execution. Start by surveying the area and clearing an escape path. Next make a notch cut to guide the direction of fall. Follow with a felling cut on the opposite side. Leave an inner strip of “hinge” wood to control the tree as it descends. Use wedges to manipulate fall direction as needed. Shut off and set the saw aside before the tree starts falling.

Limbing and Bucking

Once a tree is on the ground, the process of removing branches and cutting the trunk into logs is called limbing and bucking. Work methodically starting at the base. Cut limbs flush with the trunk. Roll the log sections to expose cutting surfaces. Use a sawhorse to elevate large logs for safer bucking. Pay attention to compressive forces that can pinch the saw. Chainsaw operators are often injured while limbing and bucking if proper procedures aren’t followed.

Chainsaw Maintenance and Care

Like any power tool, a chainsaw needs regular upkeep and tuning to sustain optimal performance. Here are some maintenance tips for enhancing longevity and safety.

Regular Cleaning and Inspection

Over time, sawdust, resin, and debris can accumulate in the oiler, chainbrake, sprocket cover, and other areas. This can interfere with functionality. Frequently clean off the guide bar, sprocket, and chain with a wire brush. Routinely check that components are undamaged and operating properly.

Chain Sharpening

A sharp chain cuts smoothly and safely. Inspect the cutters for damage and test their sharpness regularly. Sharpen the teeth with the specified round file as soon as performance drops. The chain will need sharpening after 15-25 hours of use. Maintain the correct 30 degree sharpening angle. All cutters should be filed down equally to prevent uneven wear. Proper chainsaw maintenance takes some time and effort, but is essential for operational safety and efficiency. Establish a routine for inspecting, cleaning, and tuning your saw before each use.

Choosing the Right Chainsaw for the Job

With a wide range of models available, it’s important to select the right chainsaw for your intended cutting tasks. Here are key factors to take into account.

Size and Power Considerations

Evaluate the thickness and hardness of materials you expect to cut. Bigger logs and green wood require more displacement and horsepower. A Husqvarna 460 or Stihl MS 461 would provide substantial power for frequent large tree felling and milling. On the other hand, a compact 24 to 30cc saw like the Husqvarna 435 or Stihl MS 251 excels at smaller limbing and firewood tasks. Match the saw to the application.

Intended Use

Determine how often and for what purposes you plan to use the chainsaw. Occasional light use calls for a more affordable consumer model. Those felling trees professionally need a heavy-duty saw that can withstand constant heavy use. Also consider special features like reduced kickback chains and ergonomic handles to suit your needs. Discuss your cutting plans with dealers to choose wisely. With proper selection and care, a quality chainsaw can serve reliably for years.

Can a Dull Chainsaw Affect the Cutting of a Tree on the Ground?

When it comes to tree cutting, a dull chainsaw can significantly impact the process. A sharp, well-maintained chainsaw effortlessly slices through tree branches and trunks, minimizing effort and time. However, if you’re using a dull chainsaw, it may struggle to cut effectively, leading to uneven and jagged cuts. To ensure optimal performance, regularly inspect the chainsaw blade for signs such as difficulty in cutting, decreased efficiency, and increased sawdust production – key indicators that can tell if chainsaw is dull.


I hope this guide has equipped you with a helpful overview of safe and strategic techniques for cutting a fallen tree using a chainsaw. While chainsaws allow us to accomplish tasks that would otherwise be extremely laborious, they must be operated cautiously. Always take time to ensure your saw is well-maintained and your personal protective gear is in place. Employ smart cutting methods to avoid binding, kickback, and other hazardous situations. With practice and vigilance, felling, bucking, and limbing trees on the ground can be done productively and safely. Your skill will grow with experience. Stay attentive and don’t let familiarity lead to complacency when using this potentially dangerous power tool.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prevent my chainsaw from getting stuck in a log?

Avoid over-cutting by starting shallow and making incremental cuts rather than trying to cut all the way through a log in one pass. Keeping your chain sharp and properly tensioned also helps prevent binding. Ease up on the saw if the chain starts to pinch.

What is the best way to cut a large log with a small chainsaw?

For thick logs, make a wedge cut rather than trying to cut through from the top. Start underneath and cut upwards to meet a downward angled top notch. Go slowly and let the saw do the work. Smaller saws can tackle big logs with this strategic approach.

How often should I sharpen my chainsaw chain?

Inspect the cutters before each use and sharpen as soon as damage or dullness is noticed. As a general rule, expect to sharpen after every 15-25 hours of cutting work. More often for professional use.

What type of oil should I use for my chainsaw’s bar and chain?

Use high-quality bar and chain oil designed specifically for chainsaw lubrication. Never substitute or mix with lower quality oils which could lead to improper lubrication.

How can I tell if my chainsaw’s oiler is working properly?

Check that oil is flung off the tip of the guide bar when running. The chain should also appear wet with oil. If not, inspect the oiler system and make repairs to ensure adequate lubrication is being delivered.

What are some common causes of chainsaw kickback, and how can I prevent it?

Kickback often results from one-handed operation, improper grip, dull/damaged cutters, or misuse like cutting with the tip of the bar. Maintain control with two hands on the handles and employ safe cutting techniques to avoid kickback.

How do I choose the right chainsaw for my needs?

Consider the thickness and types of materials you expect to cut. Also factor in the frequency of use. Discuss your plans with a dealer and select a saw with suitable power and features for the intended purpose. Invest in safety gear and learn proper handling.  

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