How to Chop Down Your Own Tree The RIGHT Way

You’re the type of guy who likes to do things the hard way. Your home-smoked meat’s the most delicious, and that bookshelf you built will always take pride of place in the man cave (despite your GF’s constant threats to chuck it out). The joy of doing most anything with your own two hands outweighs just about any failure when compared to a pre-fab product. So why would you buy a tree from that shady character down at the lot when you could get the rush of chopping down your own?

You wouldn’t. But we’re not all natural lumberjacks. Here are a few key tips before felling your holiday centerpiece this weekend.

1 — What to bring to the farm

Work gloves (not the ones you wear to work, with the iPhone-touchable fingertips), a handsaw (an axe will just make a mess of things), plenty of rope and a tarp. Most farms have tools you can borrow, but if you’ve got your own, keep it real. Most farms also ban chainsaws, but they really are the best thing for an even cut, and if yours allows for it let ‘er rip.

2 — When you get there

You measured your space at home, but guys have a tendency to go all Chuck Griswold in the candy land that is the tree farm. Stay within your space limits.

3 — Use a straight cut

You may’ve heard that a diagonal cut will make your tree last longer. And though that may be true, you’re chopping down a fresh guy, so this is outweighed by it sitting flat in your holder. Use a handsaw, and steady yourself by resting your side and shoulder in the cold, damp snow to keep things level.

4 — Cut low to the ground

You can always shorten your tree, but there ain’t no way to grow it once he’s chopped. Think back to that haircut you gave yourself the night before third grade picture day. No one wants to look at that for the next three weeks.

5 — The drive home

Bring a tarp — the wind you’ll encounter on the drive home from the tree farm will definitely dry your guy out, and potentially alter the shape.

6 — Before setting up

Give your guy another fresh cut, half-an-inch from the bottom. This’ll ensure he’s thirsty enough to suck up as much of his first watering as possible and thus ensure those needles don’t drop until the New Year.

7 — Interesting fact

Did you know you can cut your tree in one of 17 national forests and seven national grasslands? Chop down a bit of Americana in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming and know you’re actually helping the rangers control the growth in the park.