I sometimes have to cut down some trees, and that is usually not a problem. It is mostly intuitive what the best way to make the cut is. However, there is one type of trees I often struggle to decide how to cut down in an optimal way.

Imagine a slope with a tree having two stems, both leaning outwards (there are lots of them). Here are some strategies I have tried before:

different cuts

  1. Cutting the lowest part first, from the top. This is mostly not possible, as my saw can not fit in between.
  2. My saw can fit by sawing straight down, but that is a long and tiresome cut, and in addition, I have to remove the long and sharp leftover afterwards.
  3. This one is great, except for the fact that my handsaw always gets stuck.
  4. If I take the upper part first, it is not falling because it leans on the other one, threatening to fall in my head when I attempt to cut down the other one. Not comfortable.

This issue may not be the most important one in the world, but it manages to frustrate me every time it comes up. I hope you have some suggestions on how to solve this problem in an easy and secure way to make the world a slightly better place.

  • You might get better answers in gardening than in Woodworking. We mostly focus on the tree after it is already cut down.
    – keshlam
    Jul 24, 2016 at 19:38
  • @keshlam Heh, I have been around on the SE network for half a year, and was not aware that there is a gardening site. Is it best to start a migration? Jul 24, 2016 at 20:03
  • 1
    We did have a discussion about whether felling trees was on-topic and there was a slight inclination to accept them. It's possible you might find better answers on DIY or gardening, but this question is also acceptable here.
    – drs
    Jul 25, 2016 at 2:03
  • 2
    Can you cut the lower trunk higher up for a first cut (in the direction of 1 but near the top of 2)? With less force on it, cut 3 might then be possible without it closing on your blade. If you're cutting it into logs, this wouldn't even be an extra cut, just making a cut while it's still on the tree. The usable wood shouldn't be much less than cut 2. Or you can make (the beginning of) cut 3 twice, forming a notch which won't close up in the same way. But when it goes out could be quite sudden
    – Chris H
    Jul 25, 2016 at 7:19
  • 1
    I agree with those who suggest first cutting the lower trunk a bit higher up where there is more room to work, then cutting off the stub (no longer under tension), then taking out the upper trunk. Same general principle as the "triple cut" used when pruning trees to ensue bark isn't ripped off, though that isn't an issue in this case. Also, handsaw maybe able to work in tighter space.
    – keshlam
    Jul 25, 2016 at 18:29

2 Answers 2


Number 2 is the way a lumberjack would do it.

You can do number 3, but you would need to lift the tree to take the pressure off. This can be done with a winch. A wedge board is placed against the larger tree and a chain is wrapped around both. Then you winch the chain tight using a come along. If there is another tree or stump further up the slope, then the tree can also be winched against that to pull it up.


I also assume you know the multiple cut technique for felling a tree to guide it's direction and discourage kick-back... And that if there is any doubt you'll arrange rigging to guide it.

  • 1
    Perhaps you can also include the cutting strategy suggested in the comments. I tested that one two times today, and it seems to work as it should. Jul 25, 2016 at 18:47
  • Actually, this was supposed to be a comment... But maybe I can make it an answer.
    – keshlam
    Jul 25, 2016 at 19:27

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