Can you chop wood with a katana

How To: fell a tree

Felling a tree is a very special experience. It is also one of the most dangerous jobs there is. It is therefore important that you know what you are doing and what to look out for.

Trees are felled as far as possible in winter. Trees hibernate in the colder months, which means that the flow of sap in the tree is low. As a result, the wood contains less moisture, making it easier to split and dry faster. In addition, you don't have to clear away any leaves and there are fewer insects active in and around the tree.

Ax type
A hand ax (also known as a forest ax) or a felling ax is used to fell a tree. A splitting ax is not sharp enough and also too heavy to cut a tree effectively. A felling ax is quickest, although felling is more difficult than a forest ax. With a forest ax you are involved longer, but the work itself is less intensive.

Determining the direction of fall
The first step in felling a tree is determining a safe direction of fall and establishing a safe workplace. You determine the direction of fall by standing with your back to the trunk and looking up to see where the branches are strongest and thus where the mass is highest. In this direction the tree falls more easily. The next step is to determine where the tree will land on the ground and whether there are any obstacles that the tree shouldn't fall on. After you have determined the correct direction of fall, you determine the safe and unsafe zones by marking them with lines on the ground. These zones will be entered once the drop notch is complete. Logically, you never step in front of the drop notch! There is also an unsafe zone behind the tree. You are not allowed to pass this as soon as the drop notch has been hit. As soon as the tree falls, the trunk can jump backwards. Before you cut the tree, you decide which side you are on and in which direction you will avoid if the tree falls.

Determination of the drop notch

As soon as you have determined the direction of fall and the safety zones, you mark the fall notch on the bark of the tree. The notch should be about 30 cm from the ground (slightly higher if you are using a felling ax) and protrude ⅓ into the trunk. The bottom of the drop notch needs to be as straight as possible. The notch itself is approximately 45 degrees. This is how you chop the tree with an ax. Chopping the fibers of the tree in particular doesn't make sense. So you drive the ax into the tree at an angle of 45 degrees. After chopping at an angle several times, remove the material by hitting it horizontally several times. Repeat this until the drop notch is done. Make sure that the bottom of the drop notch is as straight as possible so that the tree falls where you want it to. Double check the angle of the drop notch. Will the tree fall in the right direction like this? This is the last opportunity to make adjustments.

Saw the felling cut

The next step is to saw the felling cut. As soon as you start the felling cut, everyone present must go to the safety zones. You are then only allowed to enter the designated and previously defined safety zones. The safest (and most beautiful) way is to saw the felling cut. To do this, you use a saw that can cut the entire width of the tree. You saw the felling cut on the back of the tree. Draw a line around the tree, about two inches above the bottom of the drop notch. In this way you can see where you have to saw and whether you are not sawing at an angle. First saw in the entire felling cut a few centimeters. The bark and the wood underneath are the toughest parts of the tree. If you don't saw into it well, the tree can turn and still fall in the wrong direction. Then saw as straight as possible in the direction of the drop notch. The tree will slowly lean as the felling cut gets closer to the felling notch. When the felling cut is approximately two inches from the felling notch, the tree will fall. The difference in height between the felling notch and the felling cut creates a hinge effect, which means that the tree falls over effectively and safely.


When making the felling cut, it can be useful to use a wedge. A wedge ensures that you can knock over the tree faster and guarantees that the tree falls in the right direction. Never hit a steel wedge with your ax! This can irreparably damage the ax head of a forest ax. A metal wedge is only used in conjunction with a splitting hammer to split large logs. Use a piece of wood to drive the wedge into the felling cut, or make the wedge yourself from a piece of wood.

Chop the felling cut

You can also chop the felling cut instead of sawing it. It takes a little longer, but of course you don't have a saw with you or the saw breaks unexpectedly. Chopping the felling cut works exactly like chopping the felling notch, only on the opposite side of the tree and again 5 cm higher than the felling notch. This is how you create the hinge effect. It is important that you knock out the wood as evenly as possible opposite the felling notch.

Finish what you started

If you start cutting a tree, you have to stop too. Never leave a half-felled tree. For example, a tree with a notch can easily fall over due to strong winds.
Fresh wood is easier to split than wood that has been lying around for a long time. So you should split the wood really quickly after you cut a tree!

Running with an ax

You always hold an ax by the handle, directly under the ax head, with the cutting edge pointing downwards. This means that the cutting edge falls away from you when you fall. So you don't cut yourself so easily either. On a nice summer day you can hold the ax by the ax head, but in winter the ax head gets too cold. Any other way of carrying an ax by hand is dangerous. Carrying an ax on your shoulder is one of the most popular and at the same time most dangerous ways. If the ax falls, its edge can cause serious damage from your head to your legs.