How to Use A Pruning Saw? – The Hands-on Guide

Saws are creepy, literally! Nope, I’m not talking about “Saw- the movie series”. I’m talking about the toothed tool that every gardener and carpenter has to use on a regular basis.

In the course of discussing gardening, we’ve landed on the topic of- how to use a pruning saw. As the name suggests, we’ll take you through the steps of pruning tree branches and limbs with a pruning saw.

We’ve broken down the whole discussion into bite-size chunks and kept them as simple as possible. Let’s start-

Which Tree Branches Can Be Dealt with A Pruning Saw

Before getting into the actual guide on how to use a pruning saw, we’d like to talk about some basics that most of the new users struggle with.

Firstly, it’s about understanding the tree branch or limb thickness that can be handled by a regular pruning tool.

Among all of the tools that you use on pruning, a pruning saw fits into the mediocre category. Tree branches that are neither too thin nor too thick, can be trimmed with it. To be specific about the thickness, branches that are 1.5 inches to 6 inches in diameter, can be pruned with a pruning saw.

Steps of Pruning with A Pruning Saw

Once you’ve got the best pruning saw in your hand, here starts the steps-

Step 0: Safety First

First and foremost, prepare yourself with the essential safety gear. We would suggest to put on these clothing and gears before you start-

  1. A pair of protective gloves.
  2. Safety goggles for eye protection.
  3. Full-length handyman pant.
  4. Soundproof earcups(optional).
  5. A hard hat (in case the branch is above the head). 

Apart from these accessories, another important safety concern is to sharpen your saw up. Also, fasten the handle and give it one or two trial runs.

Buckled yourself up? Alright, let’s move to the actions.

Step 1: Find the Right Place to Cut

There is a norm that pruning cuts on a tree branch should be made just outside the branch collar. You can identify the area by the slightly swollen and rigid mark on the tree branch.

Also, keep it in your mind that, never make a cut on a branch flush with the trunk. This might call up exposure of branch collar.

Once you have found the perfect place to make the cut, proceed to the step where you’ll start the pruning.

Step 2: Position Yourself

In order to have better control of the saw, you should position yourself close to the branch. But don’t overreach in this case. If so, you can be exposed to the risk of toppling over.

Step 3: Choose the Direction of Cut

Now, it’s about the cutting angle. Always start cutting from the top side and end up at the lower side. In this way, gravity will pull the branch towards the ground and the cut will be of less effort.

To make sure that you’re having enough space to move your hands freely, you can also change the cutting angle and direction. But try to be as vertical as possible, when it’s about the cutting direction.

Step 4: Make the Preliminary Cuts

When it’s too thick tree branch, you might need to make some preliminary cuts to make the main cutting chore easier. This will help to prevent premature breaks in the tree branch.

Making preliminary cuts involves creating 1-2 inches deep cuts both from the top and bottom side. Also, make sure that both of the cuts lie on the same cutting surface where the main cut will take place. We mean, you have to mark the places out before you put the tree pruner in action.

Step 5: Cut a Groove

Now, use the pruning saw to make a groove on which you’ll conduct the cut. This V-shaped groove will help you to prevent slipping off the pruning saw while you’re cutting. Specially, this step is crucial in non-horizontal branches. In case of horizontal branches, this not an actual step that’s mandatory.

Step 6: Make the Cut

Now, this is the heart of the steps of cutting a tree branch with a pruning saw.

At first, hold the branch firmly with the non-cutting hand of yours.

Now, place the saw teeth on the top of the branch (groove, in some cases) and start moving the blade back and forth. For maximum efficiency, in this case, you can use the full length of the pruning saw.

While executing this step, remember that you are not supposed to force the saw. Also, always be in 100% control of the saw. Slowing speed is down is always a good idea instead of rushing things up.

Step 7: Release the Saw When the Cut is Finished

Continuing the step 6 until the cut is done, remove the saw while it’s complete. If the tree limb is about 6 inches, you might have to repeat the half-cut a couple of times from both sides.

Otherwise, for smaller sized limbs, one complete cut should be enough.

Some Tips for A Better Pruning Experience

Before we reach the dead bottom, here is a set of tips to make your pruning session better with a pruning saw-

  1. Make sure you are comfortable enough with both your body positions and hand movements while going through the process. Otherwise, ending up with non-linear cuts is quite obvious.
  2. No matter what, keep the blade straight and perpendicular to the length of the branch or limb.
  3. While you are working on the ground, make sure that the saw blade is at a distance from the ground.
  4. Clean the saw and get rid of the sawdust before and after the cutting.

Bottom Line

Once you are done with the cut, clean up the saw with a rinse of water. Also, sharpen it up for later use. In case you have to deal with another cutting session right after, make sure the saw blade is sharp enough for that.