Sumo Gardener

How to Remove a Tree Stump with a Chainsaw

Cutting down a tree is one thing, but clearing out the tree stump is a whole other operation. Yes, there are several methods to choose from, but which one works best?

You already have a chainsaw for the cutting purpose. This time, you can use the same power tool to clear out the stump too. Here, we’ll learn how to remove a tree stump with a chainsaw.


Well, you can use chemicals or a stump grinder if you’d like. Most people don't have a stump grinder handy or don't want to use toxic chemicals (I would never recommend or do this way anymore).

Most people have a chainsaw on hand so it makes it a simple and efficient way. It is however a highly dangerous way so you need the correct safety gear such as gloves, safety glasses/ face shield, chainsaw chaps and safety boots.

Removing a Stump with a Chainsaw

Remove Stump with Chainsaw

Conduct Safety Measures

Check if the soil is damp enough

The first thing to remember is that you should do it when the soil is damp. This will make it easier for you to remove the stump. Ideally, you should remove the stamp a day or two after rainfall occurred to ensure sufficient dampness of the soil.

Prepare your protective gear

Likewise, you must have some protective gear since you will be using a chainsaw. Once you operate the chainsaw, a lot of debris such as rocks and pieces of sharp wood can rapidly move in various directions.

You can have a minor injury or, even worse, a fatal accident. Aside from safety chaps, you must wear steel-toed work boots, safety goggles, gloves, and ample ear protection.

Check out our buying guide on the best chainsaw chaps for 2024

Know your tools

Moreover, it is essential that you know how to operate your chainsaw. You must know what to do if it stops working or if it gets stuck. Check the instruction manual carefully and be informed about the chainsaw parts.

Removing the Tree Stump with a Chainsaw

Removing a Stump with a Chainsaw

Preparing to remove the stump

When you use the chainsaw, do it in a slow and straight manner. You must neither lose grip of nor ever attempt to turn the sawing angle when it is in operation. It can take a few tries to find the best angle, but you must do this only when the engine is turned off. 

Cutting the stump diagonally

Consequently, the most practical stump removal method is to create diagonal cuts. Cutting the stump either in a horizontal or vertical direction simply wouldn’t do.

Once the chunks of wood start to fall off, they could easily land against the blades and lead to either binding or kickbacks. Since you are sawing the tree stump diagonally, the bits of wood can easily slide down away from the chainsaw.

Aside from being diagonal, the cuts must be done in an alternating style that begins at the top portion. Aside from being safe, diagonal cutting is also cleaner and more precise.

Take note that while sawing the stump off close to the ground, you must not let the chainsaw come into contact with the ground since this can also cause kickbacks. Operate with enough pressure and precision at all times.

Here’s a video discussing what to do if the chainsaw gets stuck in the stump:

Removing the Roots

Clear out dirt around the roots

Now, you have to actually cut down into the ground to reach the roots. This will be quite risky, but you have to accomplish this to completely remove the stump. Just like with the stump above ground, you must do diagonal cuts in various angles.

After doing this for several times, you can turn the chainsaw engine off. Remove any exposed pieces of wood and clumps of dirt. Doing this with your hands alone might take longer, so you can just get a shovel to dig them up in no time.

You need to do this to prevent any of the debris from coming into contact with the chainsaw. While this power tool won’t get knocked off or be damaged by the dirt easily, you must be careful as the depth increases and more substances get in the way.

Be observant and stop sawing for a while if you notice more clumps of dirt that must be removed first.

Resume cutting the roots 

Once the debris is removed, you can resume in conducting diagonal cuts. The goal here is to expose and cut all of the tree roots. Along with cutting into the ground, you must be prepared to dig several feet down the ground with your shovel.

Just to be safe, you can contact professional help so that no water lines get accidentally damaged. It’s entirely okay that some bits of wood are left underneath the dirt. What matters is that you cut down the large tree roots with the chainsaw and dig them out using a shovel, a landscape bar, or a pickaxe.

When the roots no longer hold the stump firmly into the ground, the tree stump will be significantly easier to remove. Just keep removing any dirt and wait as the stump gets fully dislodged.

Removing Chainsaw Stumps FAQs

Can I use a chainsaw to remove a stump?

Yes, with some caution and protective gear, you can use a chainsaw to reliably remove tree stumps. It is always best to first make your initial cuts, cutting deep slices into the stump and manoeuvring in a criss-cross pattern.

This should break the stump enough for removal. Just be sure not to cut too hard and too fast as this could lead to the chain breaking under pressure on your chainsaw. Slow and steady cuts are advised.

What size chainsaw do I need to cut a stump?

This will naturally depend on the size of the tree stump you need to cut. Fully grown trees will have a larger diameter but overall, it’s always better to have a little extra length to work with for safety reasons.

The ideal length chainsaw for cutting tree stumps is between 12 and 24 inches depending on the size. We recommend using at least a 16 to 24-inch chainsaw for added safety and comfort.

Now You Know How to Remove Stump with a Chainsaw

In conclusion, tree stump removal is a fairly easy procedure if you do it well. Take advantage of diagonal and alternate cutting methods, and keep your chainsaw safe from too many clumps of dirt and debris. Cut and pull out the roots first, then remove the stump.

If you have any queries, do give us a comment. We hope that this guide on how to remove a stump with a chainsaw helped you. 

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How to Remove a Tree Stump with a Chainsaw

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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