Can You Use a Reciprocating Saw to Cut Trees?

There are many people who believe that a chainsaw is the only type of saw that can be used to cut branches and trees. However, a reciprocating saw is more efficient when it comes to the smaller trees and branches you want to prune. The reciprocating saw offers advantages over chainsaws with smaller cutting jobs.
Cutting Trees with Reciprocating Saw
So the answer is yes. You can use a reciprocating saw to cut small-sized trees and prune tree branches, limbs, and bushes. You should use a rough wood blade with 2-6 TPI or a variable TPI wood pruning blade. Depending on the toughness of the wood, you should opt for a high carbon steel blade or a Bi-metal blade for the best results.

A reciprocating saw or a Sawzall is one of the most versatile power saws that you can use in a wide variety of applications such as cutting wood, plastic, metal, demolition work, home improvement, and even cutting masonry. However, you must use the right blade for the right job.

Best Reciprocating Saw Blade for Cutting Trees

With so many types of reciprocating saw blades available in the store, it can be confusing to find the one you need for cutting trees and branches. Generally speaking, you need a blade with bigger teeth with lower TPI (Teeth per inch) to cut soft materials like wood.

1. Pruning Blades

A pruning blade is specially designed for cutting small branches and pruning plants.

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Pruning blades come with variable TPI, which also means they have different sized teeth through the length of the blade. The cutting teeth are arranged in an irregular fashion to allow easy removal of sawdust.

2. Firewood Blades

These are rough cutting blades with large cutting teeth and gullets. They typically have 3 to 5 teeth per inch and is made out of high carbon steel or bi-metal.

Blade Length

You might be tempted to go with a longer blade because it has more cut capacity. But keep in mind that the longer the blade more the chance of breakage. It also costs more.

So you might want to check the size of material that you often cut and buy a blade that is slightly longer. In case you decide to for a longer blade, consider buying a Bi-metal blade. It has hard cutting teeth, but a flexible body that reduces the chances of breakage.

How Big a Tree Can You Cut with a Reciprocating Saw?

Although designed for smaller branches and trees, technically the saw can cut up to one foot or twelve inches in diameter depending on the size of the blade and the power of the motor. However, twelve inches is an arbitrary limit. But in actual practice, you can cut trees up to 6 to 8-inches thick with a reciprocating saw. It is better to say that the object which needs to be cut should be smaller in diameter than the length of the blade itself.

Cutting Tree with Reciprocating Saw
Furthermore, the power of the reciprocating saw, particularly smaller ones that are battery powered, does not have the torque to cut many hardwoods efficiently. A chainsaw may be far louder and rougher in terms of the results, but it is designed to power through even the toughest of trees and branches.

Can You Use a Reciprocating Saw to Trim Hedges?

If a hedge clipper looks a lot like a reciprocating saw, you would not be mistaken. The back and forth action of the saw blade makes it easy to get precision cuts. The result is that you can not only cut the excess off the hedges but shape them to create a neat, clean look.

Reciprocating saws are used by many professional lawn care experts in trimming hedges, branches, and even removing small saplings from the yard. This is not only because they can create sharp cuts, but also because they are easy to use and create considerably less noise compared to gas-powered chainsaws.

How to Use a Reciprocating Saw to Cut Trees

Before you proceed, let me warn you that be realistic about the size of the tree you are going to cut. Do not attempt to chop down a huge tree with a reciprocating saw. This versatile tool should only be used for cutting down small-sized green woods and branches.

Now that we got it out of our way, let’s look into the actual process of cutting a tree with a Sawzall.

Plunge Cut

Identify the collar of the branch that you want to cut. Place the bottom of the shoe on the branch collar and start the saw. With the shoe resting on the collar, slowly plunge the blade into the greenwood.
Method to cut trees with reciprocating saw
Keep in mind that the to-and-fro motion of the blade makes it difficult to control the saw. Hence it is important to have a firm grip on the tool and have the saw shoe rest of the tree.

What follows are some common questions to using a reciprocating saw when cutting trees, branches, and other wood items.

Should you wear protective equipment?

Absolutely yes. While a reciprocating saw is not nearly as loud compared to a chainsaw, you should still wear protective gloves and eyewear designed to stop splinters and sawdust before it reaches you. A long sleeve shirt or jacket is also recommended and if you do not like the sound the saw makes, ear protection works as well.

Can you cut wet wood with a reciprocating saw?

Yes, you can cut wet wood, although it will be somewhat more difficult compared to dry wood. This depends on the diameter of the wood being cut. So, while you can trim small branches or saplings, it’s always best to wait until the wood is dry first if possible.

Can a reciprocating saw overheat?

A reciprocating saw is more likely to overheat compared to a chainsaw. That is because the back and forth action is more prone to overheating compared to a chainsaw which spins the chain over a gear. The reciprocating saw blade which has less dust clearance is constantly rubbing the wood whereas the chainsaw blade has more clearance and only a small portion of the chain is in contact with the material at any given time.

This means that you should use a reciprocating saw in short bursts and not for long, all-day jobs.

What is the best saw for cutting tree branches?

The chainsaw is, without doubt, the best saw for cutting trees. A pole saw, which is nothing but a chain saw at the end of a pole, is the best power tool for cutting tree branches.

Cordless Saw with Branch Support

WORKPRO Reciprocating Saw with tree branch Clamping Jaw

  • Tool Type: Reciprocating Saw
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In conclusion, a chainsaw works best for cutting down large trees and sizing logs. You can cut small trees and branches more efficiently compared to a chainsaw when you use the right reciprocating saw.