Clear a Cutting Zone
Even when you're sure which way the tree is going to fall, you're still not ready to fell it. Cut away any brush around the trunk and clear two escape routes on the “non-falling” side of the tree. They should be about 45 degrees away from each other in opposite directions. The last thing you want is to trip while walking away from a falling tree.
Size Up the Tree
Start by studying the tree. Don't cut it down if you see:
- Dead branches that are broken but attached, or that are actually broken off and supported by other branches. You're bound to knock a branch loose and have it fall on you.
- It is obviously leaning in one direction or heavily loaded with branches on one side. It will fall in the direction of the lean or load despite your best efforts.
- There are buildings, fences, power lines or other things you care about in the felling zone. If so, skip the felling and call a pro.
Anatomy of a Proper Notch
The rule of thumb is to make the depth of the notch one-fifth of the tree trunk's diameter. The goal is to make the angles as shown in the diagram (or as close as you can). The felling cut should meet the point of the notch. When the tree starts to fall, the hinge will help guide the tree to fall in the desired direction.