How to Use Felling Sights on a Chainsaw: A Guide

How to Use Felling Sights on a Chainsaw: A Guide

As someone who enjoys spending time outdoors and working with my hands, learning how to properly and safely use a chainsaw for tree felling has been an immensely rewarding experience. With the right techniques and proper equipment, felling trees with a chainsaw can be an efficient and satisfying endeavor. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share the key steps and best practices I’ve learned for accurately directing the fall of a tree using the felling sights on a chainsaw.

Whether you’re a homeowner looking to remove a hazardous tree from your property or a professional logger harvesting timber, understanding how to utilize felling sights is an essential chainsaw skill. These simple yet ingenious sights act as guides to help line up the intended felling direction and ensure the tree falls exactly where you want. While chainsaw operation requires caution and care, the ability to accurately fell a tree in a predetermined direction minimizes the risk of property damage and greatly improves safety.

Throughout this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about aligning, using, and benefiting from felling sights on your chainsaw. I’ll also share important chainsaw safety recommendations, troubleshooting tips, and additional techniques for successful tree felling operations. Equipped with the insights from this article, you’ll gain the confidence and know-how to successfully direct trees down with precision. So let’s get started!

How to Use Felling Sights on a Chainsaw?

How to Use Felling Sights on a Chainsaw: A Guide

Understanding Felling Sights

Felling sights are visual guides on a chainsaw that assist with lining up the intended tree felling direction. They typically consist of a small bead that aligns with a notch in the saw’s cover plate when you’re holding the saw correctly. There are two main types of felling sights – horizontal for felling sideways and vertical for felling forward or backward. These sights help you orient the saw so that the face notch cut and felling cut are precisely aligned for an accurate tree fall. Using the sights takes the guesswork out of aiming and leads to better control over where the tree lands.

Proper Planning and Preparation

Before firing up your chainsaw, it’s essential to thoughtfully plan your felling operation and prepare both your equipment and work area. Walk around the tree and identify any hazards, obstructions, or property that could be damaged by the falling tree. Choose your desired felling direction based on factors like wind direction, lean of the tree, location of buildings, and potential obstacles. Clear away any brush around the base of the tree and plan your escape path. Also familiarize yourself with the features and operation of your particular chainsaw model if it’s your first time using it. Taking the time to properly plan and prepare goes a long way in executing a safe and successful tree felling.

Aligning the Felling Sights

Once you’ve decided on the felling direction, it’s time to align your saw’s felling sights. Position yourself opposite the side you want the tree to fall with the chainsaw facing the tree. Activate the saw and hold it with both hands, keeping your dominant hand on the rear handle and other hand on the tubular front handle so you’re looking directly down the sights. Use the horizontal sight if felling sideways or the vertical sight if felling forward or backward. Line up the bead and notch while aiming the saw towards your pre-planned felling zone, adjusting the sights according to the estimated tree height. For example, aim higher up the tree for taller heights. Take care to properly align the sights each time before making any cuts.

Making the Face Notch Cut

The face notch cut is a key step in the tree felling process. This angled notch removes wood from the side the tree is intended to fall towards, acting as a guide during the felling cut. To make the face notch:

  • Align your felling sights towards the felling zone
  • Make a downward angled cut across roughly 1⁄3 of the tree trunk
  • Create a matching upward angled cut to meet the first cut and remove the wedge of wood
  • Remove any remaining wood at the point where the cuts meet

Leave an adequate hinge width at the back of the notch to control the fall, and avoid cutting too deeply. Use the sights to maintain your desired felling direction throughout the face notch cut.

Using the Sights During Cutting

While executing both the face notch cut and final felling cut on the opposite side, continually check that your felling sights remain aimed at your predetermined target. Make incremental cuts, aligning your sights before each pass of the saw to ensure precision. The sights will allow you to perfectly match the angle of the backcut to the notch and coordinate the tree’s downward rotation. Monitor the timber as it begins falling and use wedges if needed to control the descent. Keep a watchful eye overhead and have an escape path planned. When used properly, the felling sights provide a tremendous advantage for guiding the tree right where you want it.

Chainsaw Safety Tips

While a powerful tool, chainsaws require vigilance and proper handling to operate safely. Here are some key recommendations for protecting yourself and avoiding accidents:

Proper Chainsaw Maintenance

Much like other motorized equipment, chainsaw maintenance is vital for performance and safety. Keep your saw chain sharp, replacing dull or damaged cutters promptly. Make sure the bar and chain are lubricated. Check the tension of the chain regularly and tighten as needed. Inspect fuel lines for cracks and clean air filters routinely. Also ensure the chain brake is functioning properly. A well-maintained saw is easier to handle and less likely to bind or kickback.

Personal Protective Equipment

Operators should wear proper protective gear including sturdy boots with non-slip soles, close-fitting clothes, heavy duty gloves, hearing and eye protection, and a hard hat. Chainsaw chaps provide an extra layer of leg protection. This safety equipment protects against common chainsaw injuries and minimizes potential harm. Make a habit of putting on the appropriate gear before each use.

Emergency Planning

Having an emergency action plan and being prepared to implement it is a crucial safety practice when felling trees. Scout your work area and identify potential hazards and escape routes in case something goes wrong. Maintain a first aid kit and fire extinguisher on site. Work with a partner when possible and always carry a whistle or cellphone. Know how to promptly shut down your saw if needed. Prior planning allows you to work through unexpected dangerous situations efficiently.

Additional Chainsaw Techniques

While mastering the use of felling sights lays the foundation, there are additional chainsaw felling techniques to learn for tackling different tree sizes and types. Let’s look at a few more tips to expand your skillset.

Tree Felling Techniques

There are several standard tree felling techniques beyond the traditional face notch and felling cut method. Options like the open face technique or step-cutting method may be preferred on certain trees depending on the specifics of the scenario. It’s helpful to study and practice multiple approaches so you can select the best technique based on factors like tree structure, limbs, lean, and strength. An arborist can provide guidance on advanced felling techniques.

Using Wedges and Gunning Sticks

Plastic or magnesium felling wedges are invaluable for adding control over the tree’s descent. By driving wedges into the backcut, you can regulate the speed and direction of the fall. Gunning sticks allow you to accurately place wedges while keeping your hands safely away from the cutting zone. Taking advantage of wedges and gunning sticks helps minimize the chance of uncontrolled falling or snagging limbs.

Chainsaw Troubleshooting

Like any power tool, chainsaws are prone to technical issues that require troubleshooting to resolve. Common problems include the saw not starting, lack of chain lubrication, bad chain tension, clutch damage, or faulty clutch drum bearings. Learn the basics of how your saw operates so minor repairs can be handled promptly. Keeping an owner’s manual handy and maintaining your saw well helps avoid many problems.


After reading this comprehensive guide, you now have a solid understanding of why felling sights are such an invaluable tool for accurate and safe chainsaw operation. They act as a guide to allow precision in pre-planning your intended felling direction. With proper use of the sights, along with smart preparation, protective equipment, and advanced techniques, you can achieve expert-level directional felling that makes chainsaw work considerably less stressful and dangerous. Just remember to always prioritize caution, planning, and safety equipment when tackling tree felling with a chainsaw. I hope these insights have equipped you to use felling sights effectively for your next timber cutting project. Sharpen that chain and get sawing!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of using felling sights on a chainsaw?

The key benefits are improved directional accuracy, enhanced safety and control, minimized property damage, and greater predictability in where the tree will land. The sights line up your cuts precisely to guide the tree’s descent.

How can I improve my chainsaw’s felling accuracy?

Practice aligning the sights and making incremental face cuts and back cuts while regularly checking the sight alignment. Also commit to proper saw maintenance and keep the chain sharp. Pre-plan your felling strategy carefully for each tree.

What factors should I consider when choosing a tree felling technique?

Consider the tree’s structure, diameter, lean, limbs, and density when selecting the right felling technique. The area surroundings, wind conditions, potential obstacles, and desired felling accuracy are also key factors. An arborist can provide guidance.

How do I maintain my chainsaw for optimal performance?

Sharpen the chain regularly, check chain tension often, properly lubricate the bar and chain, clean the air filter, inspect fuel lines, make sure the chain brake works, and strictly follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.

What safety precautions should I take when using a chainsaw?

Use personal protective equipment like chaps, gloves, sturdy boots, eye and hearing protection, and a helmet. Have a first aid kit and fire extinguisher available. Work with a partner when possible. Identify hazards and emergency escape routes. Prioritize caution each time you use a chainsaw.

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