Hinge Cutting Trees Safely – Angle Cut or Flat Cut

Chain saw season is here and Randy and I are preparing a video on how to safely hinge cut trees and control the direction of fall and stability of the hinge.

In the meantime, In the interest of safety I want to demonstrate how important it is that we never do an angled cut when we hinge cut a tree.  It is extremely dangerous and weakens the hinge.  It seems intuitive that if you do an angle cut it could prevent the tree from falling backwards.  Just the opposite is the case.  In his book “To Fell a Tree” professional arborist Jeff Jepson says:

“You may have noticed stumps with an angled back cut. This is a dangerous practice which you will never see promoted as an acceptable method of felling trees (OSHA restricts its use) as it greatly reduces the effectiveness of the hinge. They are usually made by uninformed, beginning tree cutters who believe the angled cut will help prevent the tree from falling backward off the stump.”

If a tree is cut on an angle, and does start to lean backwards, a lever action is produced that will apply pressure across the grain of the wood.  It is much easier to break wood across the grain than it is to break it along its length.  When an angle cut tree does break loose it will slide forward off the stump, and in most cases fall backwards as the base of the tree hits the ground.

Figure 1:  Angle vs. flat direction of force.

Figure 2:  With vs. cross grain breaking of wood.


Figure 3:  Angle cut tree falls backwards.




Take a look at the video below, in which I show that an angled cut creates a much more fragile hinge than a flat cut.  

Be careful out there. 

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