15 Types of Tree Cutting Tools (For Pruning, Felling, and Firewood!)

Emma Loker Headshot - DIY Garden
Written by: - Gardening Expert
15 Types of Tree Cutting Tools (For Pruning, Felling, and Firewood!)

Trees are a beautiful addition to a garden – they bring height, structure, texture, and colour in abundance. But they’re not all that easy to cut, are they? 

At least, they’re not without the right tools. Whether it’s pruning certain branches, cutting up bigger branches into logs, or felling the tree altogether, you’ll need the right equipment.

In this blog post, we explore 15 types of tree-cutting tools that can make your life a whole lot easier. We’ll also address some questions people often ask regarding tree-cutting tools and the process of cutting down a tree. 

1. Secateurs

Secateurs are designed for pruning and trimming plants and very thin tree branches up to around 1.25 cm in diameter, as well as deadheading and shaping plants. Secateurs have short handles which provide leverage that allows us to get a really precise cut, but it’s important to keep the blades sharp and well-oiled for them to work well. 

Secateurs

You can also get cordless electric secateurs, which are excellent if you struggle with arthritis or find it difficult to grip or apply pressure with handheld tools. 

READ NEXT: The Best Ratchet Secateurs

2. Chainsaw

A chainsaw is a versatile and powerful mechanical tool designed for cutting and felling trees and wood. It has a gas or electric-powered engine, a chain with numerous sharp teeth, and a guide bar. They’re one of the best tools for tree felling, thick branch pruning, and cutting firewood because of their power. 

Chainsaw

If you’re thinking of cutting small trunks and logs (below 64 cm), we recommend getting a chainsaw with a 40 cc motor and bar of around 36 cm. For medium-intensity tasks (such as cutting logs or trunks of around 80 cm), you’re better off going for a 50 cc chainsaw. 

But if the tree you want to cut is substantial, with a diameter of 100 cm or over, get a chainsaw with a bar of around 50 cm. For heavy work like this, you’ll want a chainsaw with a weight of around 5 kg, as this will allow you to travel up and down ladders with relative ease. 

READ NEXT: The Best Cordless Chainsaws

READ NEXT: The Best Petrol Chainsaws

3. Log Splitter

A log splitter is a powerful piece of machinery that splits logs and thick pieces of wood like trunks or branches into smaller logs. Log splitters operate by applying force to the wood using a hydraulic system. This splits the wood across the grain. 

Log Splitter

Depending on your use, you can buy a big, heavy-duty model or a more compact, portable design. 

If you rely on firewood for your heating, this is another great tool to use, as it simplifies the process, allowing you to get a lot done in a short space of time. They also save your effort for other important garden tasks!

READ NEXT: The Best Log Splitters

4. Axe

If you’d rather go for the good old fashioned manual log-splitting method, an axe is your best bet. An axe is a strong and durable tool that has a heavy, sharp-edged blade and a wooden or metal handle. Axes are a staple tool in the carpentry and forestry world and have been for centuries.

Axe

Axes come in different sizes and styles and can be tailored to the specific task you’re completing. A splitting axe, for instance, is designed to cleave logs into firewood. In contrast, you’d use a felling axe to chop down trees. 

While getting an axe with a strong and durable design can make cutting wood almost effortless, it’ll always require more elbow grease than a mechanical version. So, if you’re less able-bodied, a log splitter or chainsaw may be a better choice. 

READ NEXT: The Best Log Splitting Axes

5. Tree Loppers

You can use tree loppers to cut or trim branches and foliage from your trees and shrubs. They’re best for smaller jobs that help you maintain the shape and health of your garden trees. 

Tree Loppers

There are various benefits to using tree loppers. For starters, they can have numerous uses. By using tree loppers to cut branches back, you can stop trees from blocking out sunlight in the rest of your garden. You can also use them to cut off dead or damaged branches – this will prevent them from breaking and potentially damaging the rest of your garden (and the people in it!). 

If you notice that your tree is suffering from a disease, tree loppers are one of the best ways to cut the infected branches off and prevent the disease from spreading. 

READ NEXT: The Best Garden Loppers

6. Log Saw

A log saw is a mains-powered mechanical tool that is used to cut tree branches into smaller logs. It has a metal circular blade and a powerful motor, so you can use it on any type of wood. Much like the log splitter, this useful tool makes light work of cutting thick branches into firewood. 

Log Saw

While they may look similar, log saws aren’t to be mixed up with log sawhorses. Log saws are a tool in themselves that can cut wood, whereas a log sawhorse simply holds the wood while you cut it using a handsaw or chainsaw. 

7. Pruning Saw

If you want to avoid all forms of power tools, a pruning saw will be invaluable to you. It’ll take a little longer and stamina from your end – however, when used correctly, this tool can cut down any branches, from thin to bigger ones up to 15 cm in diameter. 

Pruning Saw

A pruning saw has a sharp, serrated blade, so it’s able to cut branches that are too thick for your loppers or ratchet secateurs. The blade design also allows it to make clean, precise cuts through woody vegetation. 

There are different types of pruning saws:

  • Foldable vs. non-foldable: Foldable pruning saws are typically easier to store and transport, and safer to carry. However, non-foldable pruning saws are normally stronger and sturdier. 
  • Curved blade vs. straight blade: It’s best to use a curved blade pruning saw when cutting branches below waist or above shoulder height. Straight-blade pruning saws are better for standard height cutting. 
  • Short-handled vs. extendable handles: Pruning saws with extendable handles are good if you’re cutting high branches. However, these aren’t as helpful for close-range jobs, which limits their usefulness in the garden. 

READ NEXT: The Best Pruning Saws

8. Bow Saw

Bow saws get their name from their shape – the metal frame that holds the serrated blade in place is the same shape as a bow. You can use a bow saw for a range of tree-cutting jobs, such as felling trees, pruning, or making logs from fallen trees.  

Bow Saw

It’s very similar to a pruning saw, but the teeth of bow saws are typically larger and coarser, which makes it better to use for thicker wood and branches that require more aggressive cutting. Bow saws also tend to be heavier and less portable than pruning saws, due to their bow-like design. 

9. Hatchet

Not sure what a hatchet is? Think about an axe with an itty bitty handle. It’s a small, handheld axe-like tool that usually measures 25 – 45 cm in length. It’s designed for cutting and chopping tasks involving small branches and thinner pieces of wood. 

Hatchet

If you have small logs to split or want to create kindling and small firewood, a hatchet is a great tool for the job. It’s also the top choice if you need to take a wood-cutting tool out camping with you because it’s compact and portable. So, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, we recommend having a hatchet to hand. 

10. Pole Saw

If you’ve previously been restricted to only pruning branches within your reach, you need a pole saw. Pole saws have a long, extendable pole with a cutting blade or saw at the end, making trimming and pruning branches that are out of reach easy peasy. No ladder is needed!

Pole Saw

Pole saws come in manual and powered versions, with the latter often being electric or gas-powered for increased cutting efficiency. But how do you choose what type you need? Well, if you want to get the job done quickly and need lots of power to do it, go for a petrol model. But if you’d rather work with a lighter design for longer periods, an electric pole saw may be better suited to your needs. 

It’s also important to consider the pole saw’s length. While longer poles will allow you to reach the tallest branches, you’ll have better manoeuvrability with a shorter pole, so that’s worth bearing in mind. 

READ NEXT: The Best Pole Saws

11. Crosscut Saw

Crosscut saws are great for those of us who find we get tired out easily when doing manual jobs like sawing. All you have to do when using a crosscut saw is rest the blade on the branch you want to cut and rock it back and forth. While this method obviously isn’t as powerful as, say, a chainsaw, it is cheaper than having to buy a piece of machinery that you may only use a few times a year. 

Crosscut Saw

Because of their efficiency and ease of use, crosscut saws have been popular for centuries in forestry, woodworking, and timber harvesting. So, you may choose to use this tool for nostalgia’s sake. 

12. Hand Saw

Of course, the traditional hand saw has to make the list. This understated tool has done us proud for many years with a simple yet functional design. However, a word of warning – there are many hand saw designs around, but they don’t always give you bang for your buck. Here are some quick tips to ensure you’re buying the right hand saw.

Hand Saw

First, you want to pick one with a rigid, durable stainless steel blade, as this will stand the test of time. The hand saw should have a lacquer coating to protect it from weather damage and to reduce friction whilst cutting and a blade sheath for safety. 

The blade should have screws on both sides, and ideally, it should be welded, and the handle should be made from rubberised plastic. 

READ NEXT: The Best Hand Saws

13. Coping Saw

A coping saw is a handheld tool commonly used in woodworking and carpentry for more intricate, precise cutting tasks. It has a thin, narrow blade stretched between a C-shaped metal frame, which provides stability and control when you’re using it.

Coping Saw

The blade of a coping saw is designed to cut curves, notches, and intricate shapes in wood, but also plastic and metal! Its unique design allows for manoeuvrability in tight spots and intricate detailing, making it the go-to tool for tasks like coping joints in crown moulding, creating intricate inlays, and shaping detailed patterns in woodworking projects. 

While it won’t help you cut down your tree, it’ll do an amazing job of utilising all of the useful wood once you’ve felled it!

14. Wedge

Wedges are an incredibly handy tool when you’re trying to split logs or fell trees, but they’re not always as well known about. Why? Well, they’re used in conjunction with a striking tool, so it’s usually the striking tool that gets all the credit. 

Wedge

Yet, wedges are fundamental for ensuring the tree falls in the right direction when you’re felling it. When you’re using a wedge to split logs, it also increases the likelihood of you getting a really clean cut, which can be useful when it comes to storing firewood or selling it. 

Unfortunately, there is a downside with wedges – if you strike the wedge at the wrong angle, wood chips can fly here, there and everywhere. So, it’s important to follow the directions of use and to always, always wear protective gear. This is true of all of the tools on this list, but we especially stress it here!

15. Panel Saw

A panel saw, also often called a “rip saw,” is a specialised tool made for making parallel cuts along wood logs. This tool serves a dual purpose, as it’s also handy when you need to cut large sheet materials such as particleboard, plywood, or MDF into smaller pieces. 

Panel Saw

So, what does a panel saw look like? Well, it consists of a flat table or work surface. You place the panel or log on the surface to be cut, and a vertically mounted circular saw blade – protruding from the table’s surface – cuts it. All you have to do is push the log through the blade, creating a clean, accurate cut. 

FAQs

What tools are used for cutting trees?

You can use secateurs, tree loppers and a pruning saw for cutting branches. However, if you want to fell a whole tree, you’ll be better off with an axe (in combination with a wedge), chainsaw, bow saw, or crosscut saw. To cut logs for firewood, try a log splitter, panel saw, log saw or hatchet. 

What are the different ways to cut down a tree?

One of the most common methods for cutting down trees is using a chainsaw. Felling wedges are often used in conjunction with a chainsaw to help control the direction of the tree’s fall, particularly in residential areas. 

Other ways to cut down trees that may be more viable in your garden are using a saw, such as a pruning saw, bow saw, crosscut saw, or an axe. These tools are suitable for smaller trees or branches and offer alternatives to chainsaws for those who prefer manual methods or have limited access to powered equipment. 

What are the different types of tree clippers?

Tree clippers, also known as secateurs, come in various types designed for different purposes. However, the most common are bypass pruners, anvil pruners, and ratchet pruners.

Bypass pruners are the most common type of tree clippers. These are ideal for cutting live branches and stems up to about 1 inch in diameter. 

Anvil pruners have a single sharpened blade that closes onto a flat surface or anvil. They are better suited for cutting dead or dry branches and stems. 

Ratchet pruners are designed to reduce the effort required to cut through thicker branches, making them suitable for cutting branches that are too thick for standard bypass pruners. 

If you enjoyed this blog post and want to know what to do with your cut wood, you’ll love The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Woodworking!

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