Types of Tree Felling Cuts (Notching to Backcutting)

Tree felling means cutting the tree in a particular way so that it falls in the desired direction. And most of the accidents happen in tree felling because of the wrong cut.

Actually, there’s no wrong cut. But sometimes people make little blunders while making the cuts. These little blunders add up to a big disaster.

There are three different types of tree-felling notches used. They are the conventional notch, the Humboldt notch, and the open-face notch.

Here, we’ll discuss different types of tree felling cuts and their relationship with different notches.

Types of Tree Felling Cuts Explained

Type 1: The Top Cut

There are two cuts that result in an open-faced notch. There are two steps in performing a top cut:

Step 1: Select Your Starting Point

This is where noob cutters make the first mistake. They forget to leave enough space for the down cut. To select the perfect beginning spot, you have to do some calculations and marking.

First, draw a straight line where your down cut will be. Put a mark on 1/3 of the diameter. This will be your center mark.

Then measure a 110-degree angle from the right. Or 70 degrees from the left. See where this angle meets the tree boundary. Mark that spot.

Step 2: Cut Till You Reach The Ending Point

This part is where you actually cut. Start with the starting point. While working with a chainsaw to cut the tree, maintain a steady steep. It’s better if you follow the marks.

Stop as soon as you reach half the radius or 1/3 of the diameter of the tree. It’s suggested to cut till 80% of the tree’s diameter when cutting at breast height.

Common Mistakes:

Sometimes, people don’t measure correctly and mess up the top cut or the face cut. One common mistake is failing to keep a straight line.

People start from the starting point but sometimes deteriorate from the proper direction. This can be avoided with a line marking.

Another common mistake is messing up the cutting angle. To avoid this, you just have to keep focused while measuring.

Type 2: The Bottom or Undercut

Previously we talked about the first cut that results in an open-faced notch. This is the second one that gives out the same result. We also have two steps in this process:

Step 1: Select The Starting Point

You can start cutting at the same level the top cut has ended. But for this make sure that you have at least a 70-degree angle on the top cut.

The tree will fall if the cut is 70 degrees. But for better effectiveness and efficiency, it’s better to create a 90-degree opening.

So, you have to mark a beginning point to create this measurement gap. Now, calculate a spot that creates a 20-degree angle with a straight line. Remember that center mark from the top cut?

Once you’ve figured out the angle, stretch the line towards the tree boundary. Now you have your bottom-cut line.

Step 2: Cut Till You Reach The Ending Point

Now that you have the bottom-cut line, all you have to do is follow that line. Cut till you meet the end of the top cut. If everything goes perfectly, then you’ll have a notch of 90 degrees opening.

Common Mistakes:

Just like the top cut, people do mistakes in this cut too. This first one is a measuring mistake. You might measure the wrong angle and depth. This will mess up your notch.

Moreover, the tree might not fall as expected. Therefore, the log might break into pieces while falling, resulting in a troublesome carrying of the logs through trucks or ATVs

Another mistake is cutting mistakes. Your ending point of the undercut might not meet the ending point of the top cut. This is a grave mistake and sometimes has grave consequences.

Besides that, some fail to keep the saw straight while cutting. As a result, the notch angle gets messed up.

Type 3: The Back Cut

This is the final cut that results in tree felling. You will make the back cut on the opposite of the notch. This cut disconnects around 95% of the tree from the stump. As a result, you’ll get a hinge that helps in controlling the felling.

Here are two steps of the back cut with some mistake examples:

Step 1: Select The Starting Point

There’s nothing special about this. Just choose the spot on the opposite side of the notch. Make sure that the spot is on the same level as the notched corner (the spot where the top cut and bottom cut merge).

Step 2: Cut Till You Reach The Ending Point

Create a line mark from the starting point to the ending point of the back cut. To understand the ending point, you have to understand the hinge length.

The hinge length will be 1/10th of the tree’s diameter. You have to make sure that your ending point leaves out this amount of space between the back cut and the notch.

Let’s clear this out with an example:

Assume that your tree has a diameter of 30 inches. Now, your notch will be 10 inches deep, your hinge will be 3 inches. And your back cut will be 17 inches deep.

Common Mistakes:

The most common mistake in creating a back cut is, selecting the start point. Many cutters start cutting a bit above the notching corner. After a horizontal face cut, many create the back cut at the same level.

Many cut too deep. While many cuts below the notched corner. Some make the back cut a bit sloping. All of these mistakes may lead to problems like barber chair, throwback, kickback, and lodged tree.

Relation Of Cuts And Notches

By changing the angles and starting points of basic tree felling cuts you can get different notches.

Extra Tip:

Sometimes, the trees might hold up a stubborn stand. In those moments, a little push from a wedge might save your day.

Just insert a wedge on the back cut and you’ll see some magic. Also, don’t forget to sharpen up your chainsaw by using a chainsaw sharpener before starting the cut.

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And speaking of forgetting, many people tend to forget about safety equipment. Make sure you are wearing safety items before jumping in with the saw.

Each of these items is super important. So, don’t be careless about these.

Advanced Tree Felling Techniques

Advanced tree felling techniques encompass a range of specialized methods and practices that go beyond the basic principles of traditional tree felling.

  • Directional Tree Felling: This technique involves using precise cuts and notches to control the direction of the tree’s fall. It is especially useful in urban environments where there are limited spaces and obstacles to consider.
  • Notchless Tree Felling: Notchless felling techniques are innovative methods that eliminate the need for traditional notches in certain situations. Notchless felling can be particularly advantageous when dealing with trees that have irregular shapes, large branches, or compromised structural integrity.
  • Precision Felling: Precision felling techniques are employed when removing trees in areas with limited access or where preservation of surrounding vegetation is essential. Precision felling often requires specialized equipment, such as cranes or winches, to ensure precise control over the tree’s movement.
  • Tree Felling with Helicopter: In situations where traditional methods are impractical or too risky, tree felling with helicopters can be employed.

These advanced tree-felling techniques require specialized training, expertise, and equipment. It is crucial to engage experienced professionals who possess the necessary skills and knowledge to safely and effectively implement these methods.

Bottom Line

There are other types of tree-felling cuts out there too. But these three are the most common and safe.

Now, we believe you know everything about the cuts. Read some more about different notches, retreat paths, etc. parts of tree felling.

Kevin Smith

1 thought on “Types of Tree Felling Cuts (Notching to Backcutting)”

  1. Dimensions are only part of the equation here… you have to factor in limb weight, any lean or offset in the trunk, forked trunks are a whole different animal. If the tree is half rotten or a snag that adds a whole another factor to it. Tree felling is not an online research project! If you don’t know how to cut trees down, find someone who actually does before you run the risk of being the next newspaper article.

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