Holy crap.  There’s a man named Dan Beard that is here to tell you how to not be a “chump” and use an axe properly in order to fell a tree.  Who cares why?  Maybe it’s blocking your sun.  Maybe you need firewood.  Maybe you have a primal urge to do something manly when a guy named Dan Beard suggests a manly fashion in which to do it.

For us it was that last one.

For the full, 300-level course, go to Dan Beard’s site.  For the cliffnotes (more our style, anyway) read on.

Get yourself a fine axe:  Sight along the length of the handle and the blade to make sure that they’re perfectly parallel.  This will ensure a balanced, equal strike when swinging your axe (which you should name a girl’s name like a yacht or guitar).

Safety first:  Make sure the head is snugly on so it doesn’t whip off and hit a friend mid-swing.  Never leave your axe laying around for people to trip on – swing it into a nearby stump, burying the blade safely.  Avoid swinging into rocks and knots which could deflect the blade into your leg.  Never swing around your friends.

Find a tree:  Unless you’re doing this just for fun (possible) you already have a tree in mind.  If that’s the case, then secure the surrounding area.  You’re going to attempt to get the tree to fall a certain direction, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your truck parked on the opposite side.  This isn’t an exact science and mistakes happen.  Don’t let it fall on any of your possessions, obviously.  But avoid felling it into other trees, and never fell it against the wind.

Make a notch:  Make the notch (called a kerf) on the side of the tree facing the direction you want the tree to fall.  It should extend to the middle of the tree.  Make another notch on the opposite side, above the first notch.  Like this:

Protip: Don’t stand directly behind the tree because sometimes branches break off and shoot back at you (this is called “kicking”). Than you’re dead.

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