How to Cut Down a Tree Without a Chainsaw Safely: Effective Methods

While chainsaws are typically the most popular tool to use when cutting down a tree, there may be some situations when you just don’t have one readily available to you. 

Whatever the reason, if you’re wondering how to cut down a tree without a chainsaw, you’ve come to the right place! 

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the best alternative methods for safely cutting down trees – even if you don’t have a chainsaw. You’ll learn about:

  • Eight great alternative log-cutting tools
  • Some reasons for cutting down trees
  • Steps to follow when cutting logs without power tools.

Let’s get started!

No Chainsaw? Some Alternative Log-Cutting Tools 

So, how exactly are you supposed to cut down those logs without a chainsaw? Don’t fret — there are plenty of other suitable tools for safe and efficient log-cutting!

Using an Axe to cut a tree

Using an Axe

Make way for the true king of log-cutting tools: axes. If you find yourself without a chainsaw, an axe becomes the best, most tried-and-true method for removing unwanted trees.

There are so many reasons why axes are a top choice. Not only are they a versatile tool (you can use them for gardening needs or hacking a tree down), but they’re also not reliant on power. 

As such, you can use them in emergencies or in remote locations where you don’t have access to electricity or fuel! All you need is some elbow grease, the right posture, and dedication.

Like many other tools you’ll see below, it’s important to keep yourself safe when using an axe. Stand firm, wear proper safety gear, and use a controlled and deliberate swing facing away from other people. 

It can be physically demanding, but it sure gets the job done!

Use a Crosscut Saw

If you have a partner with you and plan to work on some big logs, the crosscut (or two-man) saw is your best bet. It takes a bit more work than your typical axe, but it’s still very efficient for cutting trees!

Thicker trees can either dull axes or tire you out before you even reach the halfway point. Crosscut saws are largely immune to this drawback. With some coordination and force, you’ll bring even the thickest logs to their knees!

And because they don’t require electricity or fuel, crosscut saws are also trusty tools for any occasion.

Just make sure that the crosscut saw you’re using is appropriate for both you and your partner. 

Additionally, communication is key: make sure that you both have your methods and instructions to a T to avoid either of you (or anyone else nearby) getting hurt!


A jigsaw is a great creative tool to use for cutting smaller logs or where you need to be precise with your sawing. 

That’s why it’s also a very valuable tool to have around! If you need a high level of control that some larger tools simply can’t offer, a jigsaw has you covered.

It might be a no-brainer, but make sure to fit your jigsaw with the sharpest blade available for the job. Doing so will help keep your work efficient while minimizing potential damage to the tool.

Check also that your work surface and surrounding areas are stable enough to reduce the risk of injury. And, as always – be careful around your fingers!

Use the Circular Saw

We can’t talk about alternative tools without bringing up circular saws! These handy tools are amazing because of their relatively smaller size and versatility.

They’re not only powerful tools, but are also available in different sizes – making them customizable tools for a variety of jobs and needs.

When using a circular saw, it’s important to be careful with your surroundings. You also need to wear safety glasses and secure the log before cutting; with the log properly in place, you’ll have a much easier and safer time with the task!

Bow Saw

Bow saws are compact yet effective tools for cutting logs. And because they don’t take up a lot of space, they’re highly portable – making them great for camping as well! 

Bow saws are easy to use and offer a wide range of control to the user. Maintaining proper form is key when using one: make sure you have a firm grip on the tool, and keep your strokes long and controlled. 

Another tip is to ensure that a sharp blade is equipped as this will allow for the best results!

Wire Saw

A wire saw, despite its surprisingly lightweight feel, is also extremely effective as a cutting tool. With their portability, wire saws are pretty handy for cutting logs in emergencies.

When using a wire saw, use slow, steady, and long strokes in a controlled manner. This will reduce your risk of breaking the wire. Also, before you begin, check that the wire is properly tensioned for an easier time when sawing!

Winch Is a Great Option

Despite seeming like an unconventional method, winches are underrated tools for helping bring down unwanted trees. These tools grant you controlled leverage and shine best when disposing of larger trees.

It’s important to note that using a winch for the tree-felling process can be extremely dangerous, particularly if you don’t have any experience. 

It’s recommended that only professionals should use this tool to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Use a Hand Saw

Do you want to know how to cut a small tree without a chainsaw? Your trusty hand saw might just be the answer!

A hand saw isn’t just an excellent garden tool, but it can also be used for cutting small logs. 

Hand saws, like some other alternative tools we’ve listed, don’t need fuel or electricity. As such, they’re a great all-around option for emergencies and remote places.

The key to using a hand saw is to select one that’s just right for you. Therefore, it’s vital to factor in the size of the logs you will be cutting! This can make all the difference. 

Additionally, if your hand saw has seen better days, sharpen the blade first before using it.

Reasons for Cutting Down a Tree

Reasons for Cutting Down a Tree

Now that you know some options for cutting trees other than chainsaws, let’s explore some reasons why you may need to cut down a tree in the first place!


This is one of the most important reasons why some trees need to be cut down: they’re simply not safe for the surrounding area. 

This is particularly true for suburbs and places with plenty of people and animals passing through. Falling branches are a significant risk, especially during windy weather and storms.


For many people, this would be the obvious reason for cutting down trees! 

While many modern homes use systems such as air conditioning and central heating, many still have fireplaces that require wood to produce heat. 

Aside from this, firewood can also be used for cooking, especially when camping or traveling.


As the population continues to grow, there’s a higher demand for housing, infrastructure, and utilities. 

To create more of these, space is required – so trees and other natural resources have to be removed to make way for construction.

Agriculture also requires a lot of space, which contributes to the need for cutting trees.

What to Do When Cutting Logs Without Power Tools

Cutting Logs Without Power Tools (2)

Maybe you forgot your battery charger. Or perhaps, you’re working in a remote area that doesn’t have access to any electricity! 

Whatever the case, you’re forced to cut down logs without any power tools. How are you supposed to do that? Follow the steps below, and you’ll be cutting trees like a pro!

Before Cutting

  • Examine the log (or tree) that you’re going to cut. Check that it’s stable enough and familiarize yourself with its shape and size. Knowing this can help you plan your cutting
  • Clear the surrounding area of any obstacles and ensure that any people in the area are at a safe distance. Double-check as well that there are no power lines or electrical equipment nearby
  • Make sure that you’re wearing adequate safety gear. At the minimum, wear protective eyewear, ear protection, and a face shield. 

It’s a balancing act, however; keep yourself safe while avoiding being bogged down by all your protective layers!

  • Use a tool that’s appropriate for the task. Analyze the size, shape, and type of the log and choose the most suitable equipment
  • Calling out “timber!” as the tree falls has become a bit of a running joke, but it’s done for a reason! 

Let people know you’re cutting logs (especially larger ones) to warn them about any potential dangers. As a plus, the call can also alert authorities in case you’re working alone and something goes wrong.

During Cutting

  • There are many moments in life when you need to keep your wits about you. Cutting trees is one of them! 

Maintain your awareness the entire time you’re cutting. Look out for falling branches, check the tree’s stability, and stay on top of dynamic weather!

  • When cutting a tree, use slow yet controlled cuts. This will give you better control over the direction that the log is falling. For felling, be sure to use the proper notching and back-cutting techniques.
  • Cutting trees isn’t a race, so don’t try to speed through! Take your time and don’t rush. Keeping a steady pace gives you more time to think and plan methodically. Doing this can prevent accidents and fatal mistakes.
  • The tree may have fallen – but you’re not out of the woods yet! Inspect the surroundings once again; maybe the fallen tree has jeopardized other nearby trees, putting you at risk. Check that there are no hazards before moving on!


So, which tool is the best for cutting down trees when you don’t have a chainsaw? The answer to this question depends heavily on your log-cutting needs! However, if in doubt, an axe is likely the most reliable tool for most situations.

Again, you may need other tools – especially if you’re working with larger trees. However, for the most part, you’ll have best chances of success with a good, ol’ fashioned axe.

As always, be sure to take your time exploring alternative tools and experimenting with what works (or doesn’t work) for you

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.