Why I Don’t Cut Down Trees by Myself

legs sticking out from under a tree trunk, fake logging accident,

Accidents are never planned nor expected.

This is a maxim I came up with, back in 2003, after I had a serious accident with a knife. That accident forever changed my life and… my perspective on safety measures taken to prevent accidents.

One of the decisions I’ve come to is that I don’t cut down trees by myself.

I may do all the work, but I will rarely if ever do that work while alone. There are so many variables involved in cutting down a standing tree, not to mention the possibility of human error. A chainsaw is, in itself, a tool which can cause great bodily harm to a person. Remember, accidents are never planned nor expected.

In this video Chris is discussing the felling of “a difficult tree,” or “cut.” The week before I had been helping him to brush up on his chainsaw skills. This tree remained balanced and upright, after he had cut. We deemed it to be unstable for further cutting and for safety’s sake, we chose to walk away from it and let it come down by itself, later.


What could go wrong when felling a tree?

  • There’s always the chance one might accidentally cut themselves with the chainsaw. Remember, the slightest mistake with a chainsaw could be really serious.
  • No matter how careful the cut, the tree may fall the wrong way. Remember, you don’t know the interior of that trunk. It’s possible that there be a rotten spot which causes the tree to fall in an unexpected direction or time.
  • The trunk could shatter/splinter, throwing sharp wood to the side (and catching you).
  • When the tree falls it can bounce in an unexpected direction. Notice in the video with Chris, that the bottom of the cut tree ended up nearly 20′ away from the stump, because of bounce. Several thousand pounds of “bouncing wood” can do some serious damage!
  • I’ve seen a falling tree “toss” limbs a great distance.
  • Don’t forget other kinds of accidents, such as tripping, falling, twisting ankles, etc. Combine these with sharp tools and it can get serious.

Some Tips on Owning and Using a Chainsaw

 So, I don’t cut trees down by myself.

I at least bring someone along who could help me, or get help, if necessary. Additionally, it helps to wear a hard hat. Mine has a protective mesh visor for additional eye protection. Heavy gloves are a must. Other safety accessories may include chainsaw chaps and steel tipped boots.

It’s also a good idea to have an extra chainsaw when cutting out in the woods. One never knows when a saw might get bound up in a tree. Without another chainsaw, freeing that saw can get dicey.

chainsaw stuck in a tree, saw bound in tree truck, stuck saw
It’s all too easy to get a chainsaw bound in wood. An extra saw can save you lots of work and keep you safer.


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