How to crosscut a tree

Plan the crosscutting procedure carefully, especially for larger logs. An incorrect work technique can be dangerous and cause the trunk to split or the guide bar to become pinched.

Safety when crosscutting

Be aware of how you are standing when crosscutting logs. Stand off to the side of the cut, as the trunk can jump up or throw back. If the ground slopes, never stand on the downhill side and crosscut. The log can start to roll before it is cut through and injure you.

Always stand off to the side of the cut, as the trunk can jump up or throw back.

Tension direction and basic technique

Always assess the tension in the trunk – is the compressive stress on the top or bottom of the trunk? The basic technique is to start with a meeting cut through one third of the log from the side that is exposed to compressive stress – that is the side where you expect the guide bar to pinch. Then continue to cut a meeting cut on the opposite side until the log is cut through. See detailed method descriptions below.

Picture showing what happens when you cut a tree with a pressure on the top or at the bottom of the trunk.

Make it a habit to look at how the trunk reacts to being cut. It may be the case that you ­misjudged the tension.

Pressure on top

Method

Pressure on top: basic crosscutting technique

For trunks where the chainsaw’s guide bar reaches all the way through:

Illustration showing basic crosscutting technique when the pressure is on the top of the trunk
1

Start by making a cut from the top side. The depth of the cut should be about one-third of the diameter of the trunk, or before the trunk tends to pinch the guide bar.

2

Now cut from the bottom to meet the first cut. Saw until the log is cut through.

Method

Pressure on top: crosscutting thick trunks

If the pressure is on top and the trunk is thicker than the bar length:

1

Start by crosscutting the opposite side of the trunk.

2

Pull the saw towards you and crosscut from the top, up to about one-third of the trunk diameter.

3

Now crosscut from the bottom. Make a bore if the trunk is lying on the ground to avoid sawing stones.

4

Continue with undercutting towards the centre of the trunk.

Pressure on bottom

When the trunck lies so that the pressure comes from the bottom, you must perform the crosscuting in a reversed sequence:

Method

Pressure on bottom: basic crosscutting technique

For trunks where the chainsaw’s guide bar reaches all the way through:

Illustration showing basic crosscutting technique when the pressure is on the bottom of the trunk
1

Start with the undercut up to about one-third of the trunk diameter, or until the guide bar tends to pinch.

2

Now cut from the top to meet the first cut. Saw until the log is cut through.

Method

Pressure on bottom: crosscutting thick trunks

If the pressure is on the bottom and the trunk is thicker than the bar length:

1

Start by crosscutting the opposite side of the trunk.

2

Pull the saw towards you and cut a little from the top.

3

Now crosscut from the underside, up to about one-third of the trunk diameter. Make a bore if the trunk is lying on the ground.

4

Finish with a top cut.

Last edited

November 27, 2019

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