TKO recognizes that we are navigating health safety challenges we have never seen before.  With guidance from safety experts, medical ADVISORS and RECOMMENDATIONS from our land manager partners, we are engaging in limited in-person volunteer activities with a keen eye towards safe, healthy practices.  

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TKO Saw School -Crosscut Saw Felling Class

September 22 at 8:30 am - 3:30 pm

Crosscut Saw Tree Felling Instruction and demonstration.

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Crew Leaders: Vito P.

Work Description:  Crosscut Saw tree felling instruction

Land Manager: Metro

Click here to learn what you need to know before registering for this event.

Every saw operator must be certified to ensure safe and quality work. This session is for those who have a current USFS crosscut saw certification card. The course will cover key safety procedures and best practices for felling trees effectively in challenging and potentially hazardous situations.

Felling Process Specifics:

1. Perform a Size up/Risk Assessment to Create a Felling Plan.

a. Consider the location of personnel, structures, power lines, other obstacles including roads, trails and other routes of travel in the cutting area.

b. Determine and plan for issues with tree characteristics and weather conditions (lean, overall soundness, widowmakers, spiked top and/or schoolmarm, burning top or portion of tree, moisture in the form of rain, snow, or ice) including problems with soundness or defects anywhere in the tree or trees that may be struck by the tree being felled.

c. Determine wind direction and velocity such as steady versus gusting and/or changing directions.

d. Know and understand the characteristics of the tree species, both live and dead.

e. Understand how the diameter, height and limb distribution of trees being felled or affected will react when cut.

f. Determine and plan for issues with surrounding terrain.

g. Considering all the information in items a. – g., determine the “good” and “bad” sides of the tree. While performing the rest of the falling operation make a conscious effort to stay on the “good” side of the tree to prevent becoming a “target”.

h. Determine optimal felling direction, lay or bed.

i. Walk out and thoroughly check the intended lay or bed of the tree. Look for dead tree tops, missing tree tops, widowmakers, snags, and ground debris that may cause kickbacks, rolling, or result in another tree or limb becoming a hazard.

j. Identify an escape route that extends diagonally away from the expected felling line and always have an alternate escape route to a safety zone. Remember, the quadrant opposite the planned fall of the tree is one of the most dangerous.

k. Felling on any slope where rolling or sliding of trees or logs is reasonably foreseeable shall be done uphill from, or on the same level as, previously felled trees.

l. Always watch the top of the tree and any identified overhead hazards throughout the felling operation.

m. If you have to leave a partially cut or hung up tree, (because hazards are unusually significant) flag the area with danger tree or hazard tree flagging to later be removed by other methods or by someone with a higher skill level.

2. Establish Cutting Area Control

a. The sawyer (or lead sawyer of a crosscut saw team) is solely responsible for establishing cutting area control including communication plans with other personnel controlling access to the cutting site. For crosscut saw operations determine who will take the saw when exiting the cutting site as the tree commits.

b. Make sure the felling operation never endangers nearby personnel.

c. Establish a secure felling area to the extent necessary; maintain a minimum 2 ½ tree length cutting area around tree being felled regardless of diameter1.

3. Clear the worksite of vegetation and removable hazards

a. Remove obstacles and clear vegetation at the base of the tree.

b. Remove obstacles and clear vegetation in escape route(s), safety zone(s) and around trees or objects you plan to use to shield you once the tree commits to the fall.

c. Remove obstacles and clear vegetation in lay if needed to prevent fly back of debris or uncontrolled movement of tree as it falls or once it meets the ground.

4. Make an Undercut

a. An undercut shall be made in all trees 5” DBH and greater before making a back cut.

b. Before initiating the undercut warn nearby personnel that a tree is about to fall.

c. Start undercut from a location to minimize sawyer’s exposure to overhead hazards.

d. Use gunning sights on chain saw or saw handles on crosscut saw to aim the tree into the lay.

e. Start the undercut at a comfortable level that provides adequate footing and balance throughout the cutting sequence.

f. Make the undercut opening large enough to control the tree. Conventional, Humboldt, and Open-faced undercuts are all appropriate to use dependent on the situation encountered and the type of saw used.

g. Maintain adequate hinge wood for the type of undercut used.

h. Undercuts must meet cleanly and not cross one another (creating a Dutchman/bypass).

5. Making the Backcut and Wedging

a. Properties of holding wood are dependent on tree species and condition.

b. Before initiating the backcut, stop cutting, shut the saw off and warn nearby personnel that a tree is about to fall.

c. The backcut shall leave sufficient hinge wood and stump shot based on the type of undercut used, tree diameter, tree species and wood fiber condition.

d. Insert wedges into backcut kerf as necessary.

e. Continue cutting until the desired amount of hinge wood is obtained.

f. If wedging a tree over, observe how the top of the tree reacts to each blow to the wedge and recognize that widowmakers can be easily dislodged at any time.

6. Exiting Safely

a. Exit the tree from the diagonal escape route to the safety zone, generally not less than 20 feet away.

b. Do not cross behind the tree after the backcut has released the tree from the stump.

c. As soon the tree commits to the fall, apply the chain brake and immediately proceed down the escape route to the chosen safety zone, shielding tree or obstacle. If using a crosscut saw, the predetermined sawyer takes the saw out of the cut and proceeds down the escape route.

d. If carrying the saw down the escape route prevents you from escaping quickly, leave the saw at the stump.

e. Remain in your safety zone and watch for overhead hazards, other trees, tops and limbs that may fall in an undetermined direction for at least 30 seconds after the tree hits the ground.

f. Give an “All Clear!” shout when it is safe for personnel to return to the cutting site.

7. Roadways, Trails, Utility Lines, and Firelines

a. Use personnel as road guards on active travel routes within the cutting site. Establish additional traffic control measures, such as signs or barriers, to control traffic as needed.

b. Do not cut trees within 2-½ tree lengths of utility lines unless utility companies have certified that lines are de-energized.

c. If a tree contacts a utility line, keep personnel clear until utility companies certify it is safe to proceed.

8. Prohibitions

a. Never leave a tree partially cut without flagging off a safety zone at least 2-1/2 times the height of the tree (or posting a guard) and arranging for removal by other methods or by someone with a higher skill level.

b. Never climb a lodged tree. Flag off, notify nearby personnel and your immediate supervisor if the lodged tree presents a hazard.

c. No felling shall take place when the top of the tree, intended lay and escape route are obscured by darkness, smoke, fog or other obstruction or when wind can affect the control of the fall of the tree.

d. Domino felling.

e. Pushing of trees while actively cutting.

A current First Aid and CPR certification is required for a saw certification to be valid. TKO staff and volunteers cannot use crosscut saws or chainsaws unless they hold a recognized and valid sawyer certification, First Aid, and CPR card.

Note: Please bring work gloves, safety glasses, hard hats, face coverings, and hand sanitizer- all your new normal trail work PPE. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, TKO cannot provide any of this equipment.

Potential cancellation: We will not work in the field if the weather is not safe for our team.

What to bring:

  • Lunch
  • Plenty of water
  • Snacks
  • Gloves, Safety Glasses, Hard Hat
  • Hand Sanitizer

What to wear:

  • Boots (Please wear something sturdy that will protect your toes from sharp tools. Boots must cover your ankles. No tennis shoes allowed.)
  • Work gloves
  • A long-sleeved shirt is a requirement
  • Long pants are required
  • Face Mask
  • Rain gear as appropriate for the weather


There are no overnight accommodations on-site available for this event.

Please contact Vito Perrone at  Send me an email if you want to join our waitlist for this workshop.

Directions: As the event gets closer, there will be an email sent out to participants with specific directions to Chehalem Ridge Nature Park.

Additional Information:

Check out the TK-U Saw School page for more info.

Free online crosscut course from the University of Montana.

Saws That Sing. A guide to using crosscut saw.

USFS Saw Policy

COVID-19 Procedures **Please follow all civil authority restrictions for your community. **

In accordance with civil authority restrictions and land manager requirements for safety considerations, the following policies are currently in place:

• All volunteers will watch in the TKO COVID-19 Safety Lab, a broad safety orientation of TKO Safety Policy & Procedures for a COVID-19 Environment. Link will be provided in your registration confirmation.

• All volunteers must administer a health self-evaluation prior to attending in-person volunteer events (

• All volunteers will read and sign the TKO Volunteer Waiver updated for COVID-19 for release and indemnity of TKO and the land manager partner. Link will be provided in your registration confirmation.

• Volunteers must bring their own gloves, cloth masks, hand sanitizer, and hardhat.

• No carpools will be arranged by TKO for the time being.

For a complete list of Covid specific safety measures, see our safety manual, available here.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: TKO recognizes that the trails we work on travel through the traditional lands of many Indigenous tribes. In every corner of what we now call Oregon, these people were forced to cede their land, their home, to the US government at various times from 1853 – 1871. We are privileged to be here today & express gratitude to the descendants of these tribes for being the original stewards of this land.

EQUITY & INCLUSION: TKO seeks to make Oregon’s trails a place where people can go to connect with nature & one another. Not everyone feels safe & welcome in the outdoors due to racism, bias & hate. We commit to being part of the solution to change that. Conduct, speech, or expressions that target individuals or groups will not be tolerated by TKO, regardless of whether they are based on age, citizenship, disability, ethnicity, gender identity/expression, geographic origin, language, marital status, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.

PERSONAL SAFETY: Your physical & emotional safety is our number one priority. If a person’s actions or comments make you feel uncomfortable/unsafe – interrupt directly, tell a crew leader &/or complete the post-event survey.

Please contact Vito Perrone at if you are a certified sawyer and would like to join this workshop.


Chehalem Ridge Nature Park
38263 Southwest Dixon Mill Road
Gaston, OR 97119 United States
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