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cutting tree limbs

How to Cut Tree Limbs Using a Chainsaw

Cutting Trees

Once you have felled a tree, you must cut it up by removing branches and cutting segments into pieces of a manageable size. Here are some tips for how to limb a tree using a chainsaw:

  • The main thing you want to avoid when limbing or crosscutting a tree using a chainsaw is kick back, the upward and backward motion that happens when the top of the chainsaw bar nose comes into contact with a tree or other surface while the chainsaw is fully engaged. Kick back can cause injury because it is possible to lose control of the chainsaw when one happens.
  • Knowing how kick back occurs and working calmly and methodically will help you avoid a kick back.
  • It is best to work at hip height with the chainsaw close to your body, feet apart.
  • Stand to the left of the tree trunk and work from the base of the tree upwards toward the tree top, removing limbs as you go.
  • Work with both a pulling chain and pushing chain.
  • If possible, rest the chainsaw on your hip or on the tree trunk as you saw.
  • Only move from where you are standing when the tree trunk is between yourself and the chainsaw bar.
  • You want to maintain your stable footing while you are cutting anything.
  • You can cut branches on the upper side of the tree trunk by laying the chainsaw on its side.
  • Cut limbs from the underside of the tree trunk at the same time if you have a good working height.
  • Saw branches from the proper angle depending on how the branches are tensioned. Otherwise the chainsaw could get stuck in the tree.
  • Roll the tree over to access branches on the underside of the tree if the tree is lying directly on the ground. Do not attempt to cut branches on the ground to avoid the risk of kick back.
cutting tree limbs

Cutting Large Branches

Cutting larger branches from a felled tree using chainsaws can be just as dangerous as felling a tree, and the same amount of caution should be used while doing so. Here are some tips for limbing large branches:

  • Remove smaller branches to access the large ones. As with felling a tree, make sure you have an escape route pre-planned to avoid injury from falling branches. Clearing a way to easily access larger branches not only keeps you safe, but it also makes the work easier.
  • Thick branches can be under a large amount of tension. Sometimes it is best to cut a limb into sections. Start from the outside and work inward toward the tree trunk until the entire limb is removed. Saw with the chainsaw bar positioned vertically. This will help prevent the chainsaw chain from getting stuck.
  • If the limb is too thick, cut from both sides of the limb until you have sawed all the way through.

Crosscutting a Tree Using a Chainsaw

  • To remove a felled tree, it is often necessary to cut the trunk into smaller pieces. Use these guidelines to crosscut a tree trunk using a chainsaw.

  • Look around the area where you will be cutting to make sure you have clear access to move around. As with felling a tree and limbing, make safety a priority by having a pre-planned exit route away from the tree once it has been cut.
  • How is the tree trunk tensioned? Predict which side of the cutting area bears the tension and cut from the opposite side. Read more about branch and limb tension here.
  • See how the tree trunk reacts as you begin sawing. Make sure you did not misjudge the tension direction.
  • Stand to one side of the cut. This will protect you from being injured if the tree jumps upward when it is cut.
  • Never stand below the tree trunk if it is lying on a slope. The trunk could roll toward you when it is cut and cause injury.