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MIS315 – Chainsaw Operation and Tree Felling (Member Price)

A Minimum Industry Standard for Chainsaw Use and Tree Felling


This standard covers the work tasks of preparing, maintaining and using chainsaws, as well as tree felling using a variety of cuts and techniques both from the ground and whilst working at height.


About the MIS Series


This book is one in a series of Minimum Industry Standards (MIS) produced by Arboriculture Australia Ltd and the New Zealand Arboricultural Association in consultation with the national arboriculture community in both countries. These industry peer-reviewed documents provide a ‘body of knowledge’ which is shared by practitioners and can be used as the basis for training, dissemination of skills and professional development.

MIS315 – Chainsaw Operation and Tree Felling (Member Price)

  • 1: Introduction to chainsaws

    Chainsaw components and terminology


    Cutting attachment

    • Drive sprocket
    • Guide bar
    • Saw chain

    Battery saws

    Top-handled saws


    2: Chainsaw maintenance

    Pre-start checks and routine maintenance

    • Mixing fuel
    • Common fuel:oil mixtures

    Periodic maintenance

    Sharpening saw chain

    • File size and depth gauge chart
    • Work position for sharpening
    • Sharpening sequence


    3: Chainsaw operation

    Chainsaw safety: general principles

    General principles of safe work and risk management

    Personal Protective Equipment for chainsaw use

    Working with chainsaws

    Starting the chainsaw

    • Drop starting
    • Starting a top-handled saw
    • Starting a saw in a MEWP

    Using a chainsaw

    • Basic operation principles
    • Operating the chain brake
    • Work positions for chainsaw operation
    • Chainsaw reaction forces
    • Kickback
    • Good saw control
    • Bad saw control
    • Shortcuts and bad habits
    • Boring cuts

    Trimming and crosscutting

    Internal stress in branches and timber

    General safety principles for trimming and crosscutting

    • Trimming patterns
    • Crosscutting

    Cut sequences for crosscutting

    Processing uprooted trees


    4: Tree felling

    General principles of directional felling

    Standard directional felling cuts

    • How directional felling cuts work

    The function of hingewood

    • Compromised hingewood
    • Trees with side lean

    Scarf types and features

    • Anatomy of a standard scarf
    • Humboldt scarf
    • Open-face scarf
    • 90° scarf

    Back cut

    • Anatomy of a back cut

    Incorrect cuts and felling risks

    • Scarf cut too deep
    • Scarf cuts not matching (undercutting)
    • Scarf cuts not matching (scarf line incorrect)
    • Back cut too low
    • Back cut overcut (cut through hinge)
    • Barber’s chair

    Standard tree felling procedure

    1. Identify potential fall zone(s)

    • Estimating furthest point of impact
    • Additional considerations for furthest point of impact
    • Estimating area of fall zone
    • Margin of error
    • Preparing the fall zone for tree felling

    2. Determine if it is possible to fell the tree into the fall zone

    • Natural lean of tree
    • Hinge control
    • Tree-specific hazards
    • Crew ability
    • Reasonable worst case

    3. Confirm plan with crew and assign work roles

    4. Prepare for felling

    • Clean around base of tree
    • Prepare escape routes
    • Set pulling ropes or guy ropes
    • Prepare other equipment

    5. Perform felling operation

    5.1. Cut the scarf

    • Work position for scarf cutting
    • Hand position for scarf cutting
    • Using the gunning sights
    • Scarf cuts on larger diameter trees
    • Wing cuts

    5.2. Make the back cut

    • Planning the back cut
    • Back cut method 1: straight cut
    • Back cut method 2: bore cut
    • Back cut method 3: safe corner method

    5.3. Use wedges or pulling ropes

    5.4. Use escape routes

    5.5. Check for hazards before returning to stump

    Additional felling techniques


    • How wedges work
    • Wedge selection
    • Using wedges

    Small trees

    • Wedge bore method
    • Quarter cut / split-level cut

    Large trees

    • Centre scarf method

    Standing timber

    • Cut techniques for standing timber

    Forward-leaning trees

    • Back-release cut (strap cut)

    Backward-leaning trees

    Trees with a sideways lean

    • Tapered hinge and wedge

    Trees with compromised timber

    • Compromised hingewood
    • Cavities and burnt-out trees

    Trees with multiple leaders


    Pulling ropes

    General principles for use of pull ropes in felling

    • Leverage
    • Angle of pull
    • Direction of pull
    • Pulling against a side lean
    • Method of pull

    Key safety points for pulling trees

    Felling sequence when using pulling ropes

    • 1: Install the pulling rope (throwing knot)
    • Moving the pulling rope into a union
    • Using a throwline
    • Manipulating a throwline
    • Setting the rope with the throwline
    • Tying off the rope
    • 2: Pre-tensioning the rope
    • 3: Cut the scarf and back cut
    • 4: Drive wedges in the back cut
    • 5: The feller should leave the base of the tree
    • 6: The tree is pulled over

    Pulling heavily-leaning trees

    • Limiting factors for tree pulling

    Guying trees for felling

    • Planning to guy a tree during felling
    • Key points for felling guyed trees
    • Side-stepped cuts

    Machine-assisted felling

    • Stepped-down back cuts


    5: Chainsaw use at height

    • Tree access methods
    • General principles for chainsaw use at height

    Work positioning

    • Bad working positions
    • Good working positions
    • Attachment points when climbing and cutting

    Off-handed and one-handed saw use

    • Off-handed use of rear-handled saws
    • One-handed use of top-handled saws

    Cut sequences and techniques – branches

    • Straight back cut
    • Step cut – undercut made first – top cut inside
    • Step cut – undercut made first – top cut outside
    • Step cut – top cut made first
    • Step cut – vertical cuts
    • Scarf and back cut – downward
    • Scarf and back cut – upward
    • Box cut
    • Scarf and back cut – directional hinge

    Cut sequences and techniques – tree heads and timber

    • Felling the head out of a tree
    • Felling sections of timber
    • Felling sections of timber – landing sections flat
    • Cutting techniques where trunk diameter is greater than bar length
    • Blocking down: step cuts on timber

    Felling techniques for tree dismantling – use of wedges and pulling ropes

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