How To Fell A Leaning Tree In Opposite Direction [Step-By-Step Guide]

Anyone working as a woodworker might have faced a scenario where there was the need for felling a leaning tree. You may have to fell it in the same direction or the opposite direction.

Felling trees in the same direction it is leaning sounds and looks easy. All you have to do is cut one side and leave it to gravity to handle the rest. However, what do you do if you want to cut the tree and have it fall in the opposite direction?

Felling trees in the opposite direction is mostly because you do not want it damaging a structure such as a house, a garden, and other reasons. So, how best can you do it?

Steps for Felling a Leaning Tree in Opposite Direction

Before we get to the process, you will need to understand what tools you can use for the job.

It might come as a surprise, but you need an ax, chainsaw, and ropes. The ropes are essential for pulling this leaning tree to fall in the opposite direction.

Step 1

The first is to assess just how far the tree has leaned. It should give you an idea of how to handle the cuts better.

The worst can be when the tree is leaning over a house. One wrong move and the tree might fall over the house.

This is the step where you also figure out the offset COG to help figure out how best to cut the tree and have it fall in a specific direction.

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Step 2

Now that you have the offset center of gravity and direction where you want the tree to fall determined, it is time to calculate the back lean amount to give while felling the tree.

This is a crucial calculation that will still be important even when felling huge trees.

Back lean can be described as the distance between the apex of the undercut and where you had marked on the ground.

The apex point refers to the hinge’s front side and also where the tree’s pivot point is located.

Proceed to measure the stump diameter by using a measuring tape. This will help you find the distance between the back edge of the leaning tree and the frontal hinge.

This measurement is also vital for determining how many key segments you can get from the tree.

Step 3

With an ax, proceed to make the undercut. The undercut should be in the direction where you want the tree to fall. As such, in our case, it will be in the opposite direction compared to how the tree is leaning.

While making this cut, keep the ax 90 degrees to the tree. The second cut should be above the first cut.

While making the undercut, ensure the second cut will eventually meet the first cut inside the tree. This should leave you with a wedge-shaped cut in the tree.

If you have access to a chain saw, then simply repeat the same as above only this time using your chain saw rather than an ax.

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Step 4

Next is to make a back cut into the tree. Keep the back cut one inch above the existing face cut notch.

Keep an eye on the tree as you make the back cut. This is because it might start to fall depending on how deep you make the cut.

Step 5

You need to be at a safe distance because sometimes the tree will start falling. In the case of a large tree, you might find yourself with severe injuries if it knocks you.

If you had attached ropes to pull it, now will be the time. The moment you realize the tree is starting to fall, start pulling it in the opposite direction of the lean if necessary.

Below is a video giving you more details on how to fell a leaning tree.

YouTube video

Tips for Cutting Down Trees Safely

It might not be the first time you are doing this kind of job, but having safety in mind is always crucial.

The first thing would be knowing your limits. If you have not used a chainsaw before, then take the proper training first. The same applies to using an ax properly to get the best outcome.

You should also never neglect your safety gear. We are talking of goggles, hard hats, closed shoes or boots, work gloves, and ear protection if you are using a chainsaw.

Proper equipment is also important. An example is an ax is good for small trees, but anything large in size needs a chainsaw to make the job easier. Also, you may sometimes have to use felling wedges, a jack, and others.

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Here is a video with more tips on how to fell trees safely

YouTube video


Can you tell where a tree might fall after cutting it?

Yes. It is why you have to assess the tree first. You will be able to know how its weight is balanced. In the case of a leaning tree, you just know it will fall on the leaning side unless adjustments are made while felling it.

How can you take down a tree leaning on another when felling it?

Here, you should get yourself ropes and have them placed strategically. So, once the tree starts to fall, it gets pulled in the desired direction.

Which tools do you need to fell a leaning tree?

You can consider tools such as a sled hammer, felling wedges, rope, chainsaw, and ladder. You can add more depending on your needs.

Are axes for felling leaning trees expensive?

As much as the axes can come in different designs, they can be used for both straight and leaning trees. Also, they are not too expensive. Expect them to start from $15 to $200 on the higher end.

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