Gunning Sticks


Administrator Emeritus
Mar 6, 2005
Can someone explain how those work? I've never used them, and I don't quite get how they work. Do you just stick em in each corner and where the point aims is gonna be where the tree falls? :?
you need 2 points of reference to be accurate. basicly put each stick in each corner, lay another stick across the top of the two, fin the center of that stick and line that point up with the crossing point of the first 2 sticks. clear as mud?
so the red is the main sticks, the yellow is the crossing stick, and white is line of sight
Dang you beat me too it, but i'm posting mine anyway

I think i got it right, correct me if i'm wrong
shoot how do i make it not so wide? maybe make them go down instead?
Maybe i'm wrong in my interpratation, but its to give you a second point of reference (another thing to line up) gives you a better line for felling. The more reference points you have the easier it is to form a line (two points are always required to dictate the direction of a line.) I don't know if any of this makes sense

Basically you need at least to points to make a direct line, the stick is really just making the line more accurate from my understanding (adds a point of reference)
ahhh or what he said, he's (paul) is good and keeps beating me everytime i go to post something, i'm to long winded
butch, it works like the rear sight on a rifle, the rear sight must be centered as well as the front. then when your eyeis aligned with both you have your lay. unless of course the top isnt centered with the butt.
I use two 8 foot furring strips with a nail through both on the pointing end for a hinge point.Lay the ends next to the tree trunk,aim the sticks where you hope the tree to go.Make a mark on each side of the trunk where the back of your wedge would be and cut away.

They work,to a point.Of course you have to take into consideration limb side load,trunk lean and other things concerning if you might have to use a tapered wedge to correct fall path. They work good for me.I'll take a picture as soon as my little camera comes back.
I saw a guy stick a double bit axe in a notch and say where it points is the direction of fall. I dont remember how acurate it was.
I saw a guy stick a double bit axe in a notch and say where it points is the direction of fall. I dont remember how acurate it was.

My old boss used to stick the chainsaw in the notch and say the same thing...square the butt of the motor up to the face cut and the bar points to the falling direction. They never did teach me about the sights on a saw, never saw them use was just a line on the saw to me.
Slackers method of 'gunning'

I discovered this the other day.

The tree was about as big as Willies (see his illustration), I needed to know how, exactly it would fall according to the face cut.

No, gunning sticks, nothing. I was nervous because there was a swimming pool, deck etc. right near by.

My buddy made the face cut and then asked me how it would fall!

I used an orchard ladder. I put the legs into the cuts, and layed the third leg out on the lay.

It worked perfectly!
Butch, Gerry's Logging videos show a nice double scissor set of gunning sticks in use.
One of the quickie tricks I learned from my poppa is, to set a small stick into the face with the end jammed up against the front of the hinge and eyeball it which point you can see where the cut is gunned. On funky shaped trees he'd often use 2 sticklets set out toward the corners which helps one "look past" the odd shapes/bulges and see the effective face. It isn't as precise as gunning sticks but sufficient in most situations involving relatively short trees.
It's a common belief that the sticks show where the tree is going to fall, but in practice it's not always true.

The sticks show where the cut is aimed, and not always where the tree is going to fall. When compensating for side lean or side weight you have to use you gut feeling about how much to over-gun the cut to hit the lay.

In that situation the sticks would be lying to you. But all things considered they are a valuable tool. Especially when used to mark the corners in large trees.
Thanks for the explanation everybody.
I've been skimming over that part in the Fundamentals of General Tree Work, and never really understood. I get it now.
gf beranek;195469 said:
But all things considered they are a valuable tool. Especially when used to mark the corners in large trees.
Agree,100 percent.I only use them on large trees,which in this area is 3 feet.

As G. says they not are always on the money,you have to consider the lean etc .They get it close,the wedge cut ,ropes,jacks and D4 on the tree do the rest.Love them dozers.:D
2 equal sized sticks work to show where the hinge face squarely aims at; but other factors as mentioned (sidelean, hinge taper, dutching, bad wood, obstacles in path, mebbe even some wind etc.) can come into play.

i think if you sit in between them; hands at equal positions on the equal sticks; arms at equal lengths etc.; and lean back into the face (to place eyes farther from point formed by sticks/ to draw a straighter line to and past point from eyes); then look into the point and past; you should have a fair line of sighting without 3rd crossing stick.

Using rake trick you can then fairly plot length of fall on that line; if tree is straight. If tree leans forward; it is better to take rake trick to the side view half mast; lining up tree height to top of stick and hand at cut; then 'fell' the stick over rotating at hand/cut; and plot fall length i think.