How to Cut Branches: What Type of Electric Saw?

Updated February 21, 2017

A fallen tree limb can damage your roof, the structure of your home and other objects within its path. It will also create clutter on your lawn. To avoid these problems, you should remove any tree branches that appear to be dead or are close enough to your home to create damage. When selecting an electric saw to do the job, there are many factors to consider. Safety is also a concern when using an electric saw. Make sure the area is clear of children and pets before removing branches.

Determine the height and width of the tree branch. You don't need the exact measurement of the branch, but you do need to determine whether the branch is out of your reach and estimate its thickness.

Select a handheld saw or pole pruner. A handheld saw will help cut branches that are well within your reach. If you need to stretch to reach the branch, select a saw attached to a pole. These types of saws are designed for trimming tree branches.

Pick an electric, gasoline or battery-powered saw. Electric saws will need to stay plugged into a power outlet. This is not always convenient for outdoor use. Battery-powered saws may not last the duration of the task. Gasoline-powered saws are most often used for outdoor work.

Choose a saw that is capable of cutting the tree branch. The larger the guide bar on the saw, the bigger diameter the saw can cut in a single pass. Saw guide bars range from 8 to 20 inches. Saws with an 8- to 12-inch guide bar can cut tree limbs that are between 6 and 10 inches in diameter.

A saw with a guide bar between 14 and 20 inches can cut trees limbs that are 12 to 18 inches in diameter. Heavier guide bars are typically reserved for professional use and should be used with caution. Smaller saws can cut tree branches as well, but it may take more than one pass to remove the branch. Keep in mind that larger saws are often heavier than smaller ones.

Put on protective clothing, including goggles, steel-toed boots, hard hat, gloves, hearing protection and close-fitting clothes.

Check the electric saw. Make sure the chain tension is tight and the teeth on the blade are sharp. Check the user manual for tension adjustment and teeth sharpening instructions. Also, put gasoline in the tank if you are using a gas-powered saw. The instruction manual will specify how much gasoline to use and how to fill the tank.

Ensure that there is adequate clearance around the tree branch so that it will not fall on top of any object or person. Plan an escape route in case the branch doesn't fall as planned. If cutting a large tree branch on the ground, ensure that the branch is supported on all sides so it will not roll when cut.

Place the chain saw on a flat surface. Hold the saw by the handle with one hand. Pull the starter rope with the other hand quickly and smoothly.

Hold the saw by the handle with both hands. Place the blade of the saw against the branch, and push it down into the branch to trim. Repeat the process, if necessary, to cut all the way through the branch.


Always wear protective clothing when operating an electric saw, and make sure the area is clear of children and pets.

Things You'll Need

  • Protective goggles
  • Close-fitting clothing
  • Work gloves
  • Steel-toe shoes
  • Hard hat
  • Hearing protection
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About the Author

Si Kingston has been an online content contributor since 2004, with work appearing on websites such as MadeMan. She is a professional screenwriter and young-adult novelist and was awarded the Marion-Hood Boesworth Award for Young Fiction in 2008. Kingston holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.