Monday, October 22, 2012

Tree Cutting Activity Using Mathematics

The purpose of this activity is not actually to cut down any trees, this is a job for a skilled professional, but simply to mimic the types of cuts many professional tree cutters use in order to open up a dialog with students about how math plays a purpose in tree cutting.

This exercise will involve students going outside to measure various sizes of trees using rulers, tape measures, proportions etc and then discussing how said trees should be fell. For example,what direction should such a tree be fell? What angles should be used in our cuts to ensure the tree falls in that direction? What might happen the if the angles of the cuts were to be altered.

You Will Need:

Groups of 3-4

Tape Measure (preferably the type used to measure waste lines so that it can easily wrap around the diameter of a tree)

Pen & Paper

Worksheet With Questions (Provided Below)

Types of Cuts For Falling a Tree

I own a landscaping company and I've cut down quite a few trees in my lifetime but falling trees is not my area of expertise. Instead we are going to focus our concentration on two different types of cuts and leave the details to the experts. Remember the purpose of this exercise is to get your students thinking about how to follow mathematical directions and what role mathematics plays in various professions.

What Your Students Should Be Able To Do

1) Student will take measurements of the trees diameter and label the tree small or large

2) Students will determine which cut is best to use based on the diameter size

3) Student will draw a picture of the tree on a piece of paper with a diagram of obstacles that surround the tree.

4) Student should estimate the height of the tree

5) Student should choose the direction the tree should fall and mark it on their diagram

6) Students will label where the cuts will be made on the tree to ensure the correct fall

7) Students should know the depth and angle of each cut and be able to label them


Big Tree (Diameter larger than 9 inches)

Small Tree (Diameter less than 9 inches)

Cuts Involved in Falling a Small Tree

  • Determine the direction of fall

  • Cut 1, on the side where you intend for the tree to fall. The cut should be parallel to the ground about ¼ of the way through the tree.

  • Cut 2, on the opposite side of the tree where the first cut was made make your second cut (labeled a back-cut). Make this cut downward at an angle of 30 degrees.

Cuts Involved in Falling a Large Tree

  • Determine the direction of the fall

  • Cut 1: Labeled the Top-Cut, should be made on the side of the tree that you wish it to fall. The top cut should (under normal circumstances) be parallel to the ground, about waste high, The cut should be about 1/3 of the trees diameter.

  • Cut 2: Labeled the Bottom Cut, should be made 4-8 inches below the 'Top Cut', at an upward angle approximately 20-30 degrees. Continue this cut until the 'Bottom Cut' reaches the end of the 'Top Cut' creating a pie shape piece labeled the The Notch

  • Cut 3: The Back Cut, should be made on the opposite side of 'The Notch', at the same height of the 'Top Cut'. Cut at slope horizontal to the ground.

**Note, this post is not in any way meant to prepare anyone to cut a tree. It is meant to help kids see what math loggers use everyday within their cuts and how slight error rates can cause major accidents. This article does not provide near enough information and what information that is provided is representative of only certain scenarios. The information is taken from the following websites. Here, Here and Here.


Jeremiah Dyke said...

I will add some more to this exercise soon, including a worksheet with questions. Let me know if you have any ideas for ways to make it better

allison angel said...

I think this blog is so important for me. I fund a lot of interesting info here. Thanks for posting a awesome tree cutting system. Tree Felling

Jeremiah Dyke said...

You're welcome! Let me know if there are any topics you need ideas for.

Justin Chan said...

what an awesome post.
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Keira Dartez said...

I think this is really important for those skilled professionals who cut trees to avoid disasters. Yes -- disasters. Cutting down trees is not that simple as you think, especially when it comes to cutting down big ones. I’ve seen a photo of a tree cutting that ended up in a disaster. You need to be really careful for you to cut down a tree properly and safely.

Keira Dartez


I have visited your blog for the first time and found it a well organized blog. thanks for sharing
Tree felling toowoomba

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