How To Cut Down a Tree With an Axe

So, you want to know how to cut down a tree with an axe, but you don’t know where to start. Some people prefer using power tools to cut down trees. However, nothing compares to cutting down a tree the traditional axe way.

Other than honoring the tradition of felling trees with an axe, you might prefer using this method to cut down trees for several other reasons. These might include the fact that axes are relatively safer to use than high-power tools, they’re low maintenance and affordable.

You might also want to reach out for an axe over a high-power tool because axes are the best for chopping and splitting wood. They’re also more environmentally friendly in comparison to high-power tools. Even so, you might find cutting trees with an ax to be daunting, and we understand your predicament.

Without the proper tools, techniques, and tips, cutting down a tree can take longer than expected. It can also have disastrous outcomes. In this article, we have gathered all the information you need to know on how to cut down a tree with an axe. Read through the article, we’re sure you’ll find it insightful.

Safety Measures

First things first. When cutting down a tree with an axe, there are several safety measures you need to consider. To begin with, before cutting a tree with an axe, you need to have proper safety gear. These include safety glasses, a hard hat, and steel-toed boots.

The safety glasses protect your eyes from woodchips that can come flying when cutting the tree. The hard hat on the other hand protects you from serious injury in case a branch falls on your head. The boots keep your toes safe in case the axe head comes loose and falls on them.

You can also choose to use gloves. This is, however, not mandatory. Some people feel like they have a better grip on the axe with gloves on while others don’t. It is, therefore, all up to you and your preference. Some axe handles also offer better grip than others and as such, there’s no need for using gloves.

Another safety measure to consider is making sure you have enough space for your swing. Sometimes a loose axe head will swing from the handle. You might also lose your grip on the axe and send it flying in the air.

It is, therefore, important to keep a safe distance from onlookers, to prevent any accidents from happening.

You also work with a partner and steer clear of the direction of the falling tree.

Getting Permits

You might also need to get a permit to cut down a tree. This, however, depends on factors such as whether the tree is on your property or on public and private land, where you live in and the type of tree you’re cutting.

In most cases, you do not need to get a permit if the tree is on your property. This is because cutting down a tree in your property is routine maintenance for your safety. As such, you will only need to get a permit if you want to cut down a tree on private property or public land.

This is, however, not always the case. Depending on where you live, you might have to get a permit to cut down a tree regardless of if it’s in your property, private, or public land. For example, in the city of Montreal, you need to get a permit to cut down a tree even if it’s on your property.

Most states in the U.S, however, require you to get a permit to uproot trees of certain nature. For example, in Georgia, you need a permit to cut down a tree or uproot it if it’s a hardwood species with a diameter of 6 inches or more. You also need a permit if the tree is a pine species with a diameter of 12 inches or more.

Choose the Right Axe for the Job

Type of axe: There are several factors you need to consider when choosing an axe. For starters, there are different types of axes meant for different tasks. There are over 15 types of axes, each of which has a particular design and is for a particular job.

For example, the axe head of a tactical tomahawk has one pointy end and a sharp cutting edge on the other. It is primarily used for chopping. A felling axe on the other hand has a blunt end on one side of the axe and a sharp bit on the other end. A felling axe head weighs between 2 to 4 pounds and you can use it for chopping wood and felling trees.

Other types of axes include forest axes, hatchets, broad axes, and double bit axes.

Your best fit: You should also consider whether an axe is the best fit for you. You can do this by factoring in the axe’s handle, weight, and size. Axe handles can be made of metal, rubber, or wood. Most lumberjacks worth their name recommend using an axe with a wooden handle.

This is because these types of axes last longer, are more ergonomic, and offer better grip. The best wood for axe handle is ash or hickory.

The weight of an axe affects its use and how well you can use it. If an axe head is too heavy it gains force but loses accuracy. On the other hand, if it’s too light you won’t be able to cut deep into the tree. If it’s your first time using an axe, we recommend using an axe head that weighs about 3 pounds. You can increase the axe head weight as you gain more experience.

Felling axes with different sizes have different advantages. For example, felling axes with longer handles offer more leverage and a better swing while ones with shorter handles have better precision. Most axes will have a standard full length of 36 inches.

Your preference for an axe handle should be determined by your height. For example, individuals who are six feet tall should consider using axes with a 32-inch-long handle.

Preferred Axe Pattern: There are several types of axe patterns, each of which are popular for particular reasons. For example, the Michigan axe pattern is a popular shape for felling axes. We recommend using this axe pattern if you want to cut down a tree that is large and has a dense wood type.

Other axe patterns include the New England axe, the Dayton axe, the Connecticut axe, and the Michigan axe.

If you already have an axe inspect it to make sure it’s in proper condition. Using a faulty axe will not only cost you time but can cost you your life as well.

Prep Work

You need to prepare before you cut down a tree. This might include choosing the location and the tree you want to cut. When choosing the location of the tree, consider if it’s safe to cut down the tree or if it will fall on obstacles such as power lines, houses, or parked cars.

You should also consider which trees you can cut. These include trees with defects, trees with hollow trunks and which can be dangerous if on your property, and dried-up trees. You should also only cut down trees that are growing too close to infrastructure, those that are leaning in a particular direction, if they have a disease or if they have interior decay.

It is important to consider these factors as trees are important natural resources that play a vital role in the planet’s ecosystem.

Preparing Your Axe

You don’t have to wait until it’s time to cut down a tree to prepare your axe. You can prepare your axe from the moment you cut down a tree. After cutting a tree, clean the axe by wiping off any debris.

You should also sharpen the cutting edge of the axe. This ensures that the axe will be ready for the job, the next time you pick it up. Additionally, you should apply oil to the axe, to prevent it from rusting. Other than the axe head, you should also oil the axe handle. So, make sure you cover the axe handle with linseed oil to keep it from drying out and cracking.

In addition to these, make sure your axe is well fastened to the handle. If the handle is cracked or split, the axe will likely come off mid-swing which is dangerous.

Ensure that you also sheath your axe when storing or when walking around with it. This helps to prevent accidents as well as help preserve them. Most axe sheaths are made of leather. You can also wedge your axe into a log or safely store it in a box if you don’t have a leather sheath.

Factors to Consider When Using the Axe

Stance: Your stance when using an axe to cut down a tree is very important. It not only ensures your safety but determines how effective and accurate you are. When cutting down a tree with an axe, we suggest you stand perpendicular to the tree you’re cutting.

Your legs should also be slightly more apart than your shoulder width. You will be able to bend your knees as need be in this position. You will also have more stability and your legs will be safer in comparison to when your leading leg is pointing towards the tree.

Accuracy: You should consider your accuracy if you want to cut down a tree faster. Accurate strikes will result in deeper cuts into the tree and thus cut into the tree faster. You can also reduce the time you use to cut down a tree by using weaknesses on the tree to your advantage.

These weaknesses include cracks on the tree.

You will also increase your accuracy by taking breaks if you are tired. You are more susceptible to accidents when using an axe to cut down a tree. Taking a break enables you to power up but also helps you to avoid accidents.

Important Felling Techniques

Tree Felling Technique: Felling trees is a skillful art that requires you to have the proper know-how. You can’t just start cutting down a tree and hope it will fall in the direction you hope. There are different axe techniques for different tasks. For example, there are particular techniques for splitting wood and felling trees.

When cutting a tree with an axe, use the lateral chops. These are diagonal swings that come from your arm with the dominant shoulder down to the tree. You should also try to make the chop as close to the ground and low as possible.

The Notch Technique: The notch refers to a cut made on the tree that determines the direction the tree will fall. You should, therefore, make the notch in the direction you want the tree to fall. This should be away from structures such as buildings, roads, or electrical lines and poles. The tree should also fall on its heaviest side. As such, this is the side where you should make the notch.

The notch should be the first cut you make on the tree and should be made at a 45° angle. Continue cutting the tree at this notch until you’re a third way into the center of the tree. Once you achieve this, move to the opposite side of the notch on the tree and make another cut.

This cut should be made a few inches above the first notch in the opposite direction. The distance between the first notch and the second cut works as a hinge that holds the tree in place. You should continue to chop downwards through the second cut towards the felling notch.

As you get closer to the first notch, the tree will start falling in the direction of the felling notch.

Processing the Fallen Tree

The next steps that follow once you have successfully cut down your tree are called limbing and bucking. Limbing refers to the process of removing branches from the trunk of the fallen tree. Bucking on the other hand refers to cutting the tree trunk into 16-inch sections.

Limbing and bucking help to cut down the fallen tree into manageable sizes that can easily be transported.