Cutting Tree Branches with Reciprocating Saw (5 Steps)

If you’re a professional woodworker or carpenter, you may have a wide variation of cutting tools. But in case you are not a professional in this game, you may not have (or need) tools in abundance. And maybe( just for the sake of argument) you have a reciprocating saw at hand to cut down the annoyingly large branches. 

You don’t have anything else.

If you are facing this issue, and have only got a reciprocating saw to cut down tree branches, this post is solely for you. Well, a reciprocating saw is not something that we can regularly use to cut tree branches. In case we have to go with it anyway, we have to be cautious.

Take a minute of break and go through the entire guide on cutting tree branches with a reciprocating saw, and find the answers of how to saw a branch off a tree with a reciprocating one- 

What Is a Reciprocating Saw?

cutting tree branches with reciprocating saw

First thing first, we’ve to be serious about the definition, and learn how it works in the first place. 

Simply put, a reciprocating saw is a good old-fashioned hacksaw that is hand-powered. At least that was the idea when reciprocating saws were being developed initially. 

How Does It Work?

This particular kind of saw lets the user hold the saw in a particular place, and the blade moves back and forth to do all the works. Instead of moving back and forth, the blade can move upward and downward as well. But the purpose of the movement is the same. 

What Does It Look Like?

The next thing we want you to know is the shape, physical appearance, and functions of these saws. Well, in terms of shape, it quite looks like a power drill. The only difference is, there is a blade sticking out of the frontal side of the saw. 

Such a design allows the saw to limit its ability to make angular cuts and precision cuts. As an example, in the case of large workpieces, this cannot be beaten. But it can be used in woodworking, of course.

And that’s what we are going to talk about throughout the rest of this article. To be specific, we’ll learn the tips and methods of cutting tree limbs with reciprocating saw, and the safety precautions of it as well. 

5 Steps of Cutting Tree Limbs with Reciprocating Saw

Step 1: Select the Right Size of the Blade

As you know, reciprocating saws have a blade attached in parallel to the axis of the device. This blade can be anything from 6 inches to 12 inches in size. In the first step, you have to select the right size of the blade. 

To get the accurate measurement, you have to measure the diameter of the wood branch that you are about to cut with this saw. And once done, add two more inches with that to find the right blade size. 

As an example, if the diameter of the wood branch is 8 inches in diameter. So the minimum safe size of reciprocating saw blade size would be 10 inches at least. 

In case you are looking for the best reciprocating saw blades, here are some selected lists by the professionals–

Step 2: Set the Shoe

The shoe is a part of a reciprocating saw that determines how straight you can cut and how much deep your cut would be. So, you have to get to the tree branch right now and set it up. 

Most of the reciprocating saw shoes are able to be adjusted based on the depth and angle. You can manipulate these two factors according to the shape and direction of the tree branch that we are about to cut. 

Step 3: Hold the Blade Clamp

Blade clamp is a part of the saw which is used to hold the blade in place. Before starting the process of cutting through one end, you should hold the blade clamp in the right manner.

In case you are not sure about the exact way of handling this up, you can take help from the user’s manual. 

Step 4: Find the Collar and Start Cutting

The collar is the place of a tree branch from where it started growing as an extension of the tree. If you want to get done with this process quite easily, you have to find the collar portion of it. 

Once you have found the collar, you can start cutting from one edge and go through the whole cut. 

While making the cut, make sure that the right type of cut is being made in an angular manner by a tree pruning reciprocating saw. Otherwise, the cutout part of the branch will lead to a tree rotting. And that’s a completely unexpected situation. 

Step 5: Tree Branch Removal

No matter you are pruning small-sized tree branches or dealing with thicker branches, you have to make sure that it’s taken off perfectly. 

In case the branch is located at a height, it should be safe enough to let it drop on the ground once the cutting process is done. And don’t forget to use the best branch pruner quality anyway. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much thickness of tree branches can be dealt with a reciprocating saw?

Ans: The answer is not something specific. But usually, three branches of up to 12 inches of diameter are good to go. Usual backyard tree branches are the ideal picks for such saws. 

Q: Should I make a vertical cut or horizontal cut on tree branches while tree pruning with a reciprocating saw?

Ans: For the sake of safety and usability, making a horizontal cut is a better option. Make sure to use the best reciprocating saw for tree trimming. 

Q: What safety gears and wearables should take on before this process?

Ans: This is quite generalized what sort of safety precautions should be taken for this process. You can go with hand gloves, safety goggles, masks, etc. And through the process, beware of the sawdust. 

Q: Can I cut tree branches at height through this process?

Ans: Yes, you can. For that, using a ladder that reaches you to the tree branch would be a good idea. But make sure that the ladder is stable enough and supported from the ground. Otherwise, the vibrations and impact forces might call up unwanted accidents. 

Bottom Line

Thanks for going through the whole process of cutting tree branches with reciprocating saws on your own. All that being said, we would highly advise you to stay as safe as possible while conducting the process.

And this process would help you to learn further actions like a cut tree stump with a reciprocating saw & cutting tree trunks with a reciprocating saw.

Good luck. We hope we can meet again sometime. 



Kevin Smith

1 thought on “Cutting Tree Branches with Reciprocating Saw (5 Steps)”

  1. I came to your site because I am using a reciprocating saw to cut major branches at height – the highest was about 40 feet in the air. It has been quite a feat of backyard engineering with a 24 foot extension ladder at the base up to the bottom of an 8 inch diameter branch that extended well over 20 feet up to the top of branches. The very top was handled with a pole pruner saw but it was hard to maintain on target so I extended a 12 foot ladder by putting lifting another up about 6 feet above it – these upper ladders were firmly tied, probably over-tied to the main branch. The top use of the reciprocating saw was at the top of this extended ladder. Anyway, I have this branch down and and am now working on the base it is probably 15-20 inches in diameter and I want for find out if I can do that or might damage or break the saw’s blade. I have a handsaw with a 21 inch blade (which was why I ended up hoisting the second ladder into place as I could cut far faster with this than I could with the pole pruner’s saw blade because I could easily see where I was cutting and better directly apply the force to the saw). Any ideas.

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