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Tree Branch Cutting Tools – The Hand Tools

tree branch cutting tools


Having a few tree branch cutting tools in the garage is a good idea by anybody that has at least one tree near their house! While nice big shade trees are great to have near my home, they eventually need some work done to them as the branches tend to hang down a bit to low.

If it is a small tree or shrubbery in the flowerbed, then you will need a different set of tree branch cutting tools that are capable of precise pruning. A young tree needs some selective thinning and lower limb removal as it grows. The established shrubs in the flowerbeds beside my house need to be pruned every fall or they will grow way too big!

I want to explain how I use some of my favorite pruning tools while working in my Tree Pruning and Removal business!

Pruning Shears – One Hand Operation

tree branch cutting tools

A pruning shears is a small pruner that is operated with one hand. My favorite pruning shears is a Felco pruning shears. It is a commercial grade quality and we have used ours for many years. I like it so much that when we lost the Felco pruner we had, I bought another just like it! With the bright red handles it is easy to find in the toolbox!

It is one of the easiest tools to use, especially on small branches or shrubbery. A lot of times when I am using my pruning shears it will be on shrubbery like a butterfly bush or holly shrub. It also works when pruning fruit trees where there are many small branches that need to be pruned each year.

Most of these tools are about eight inches long and you will use it with either the right or left hand. The cutting jaws open pretty wide, but the thicker branch you select to cut, the harder it will cut. Especially since normally only one hand is used to cut. However, on the thicker branches it does work well to place my second hand over my primary hand to help squeeze harder. These tree branch cutting tools can cut up to roughly a three-quarter inch branch.

Bypass Lopper – 2 Inch Tree Branch Cutting Tools

tree branch cutting tools

A bypass loppers is an important member of the tree branch cutting tools. These bypass loppers have a cutting blade that slides past the bottom bar so it makes a clean cut. A clean cut will help the tree heal faster where the branch was removed.

There is a variety of sizes in these loppers. The length usually ranges from 20 inches to 32 inches. Usually the longer the loppers the bigger branch you can cut because of the extra leverage from the longer handles.

With the varying lengths they also have varying branch size each lopper can cut. Normally the cutting size for these tree branch cutting tools ranges from one and a quarter inches to about two inches. Although they will cut smaller twigs just fine!

I’m going to be using the bypass loppers on pruning a white pine tree or something similar to that when the tree needs to be reshaped to a normal pine tree look. Or sometimes on a small tree when doing slight crown reduction and removing the low limbs.

We used to have a Corona Bypass Loppers that I really liked, but eventually it broke from abusing it by trying to cut branches or roots that were to big! We usually take the bypass loppers along when a stump grinding job is scheduled. This loppers works well to cut off any small roots sticking out of the ground after the stump is finished being ground out!

Hand Saw – From The Tree Branch Cutting Tools

tree branch cutting tools

The hand saw is pretty much what it sounds like. It is a sharp toothed curved blade attached to a wooden, plastic, or medal handle. Usually this cutting blade’s length is seven to 13 inches long! The blade length is something to consider when deciding how large of branches need to be cut.

But do consider that using this type of hand saw does take some effort. A sharp blade really helps reduce cutting time. Remember all the cutting is done by sawing through the wood. The bigger the branch, the more effort it will take!

There is a certain satisfying emotion that goes with using this saw. Back in the day lumberjacks would cut down massive trees with a hand saw! A much larger version though!

While these tools are great for a few cuts, or sporadic tree maintenance, you probably want to consider a chainsaw if pretty much cutting is needed to be done on average size limbs. I rarely use this tool because it takes quite a bit of effort and we have a selection of chainsaws and other cutting tools in the bucket truck toolbox that cut the branch faster!

Pole Saw / Pruner – Reaching Higher

tree branch cutting tools

When I am working from the ground and reaching up into the tree to either remove branches or to prune the sides of small or medium trees the pole saw pruner is a great tool I use.

There are several lengths of these tree branch cutting tools. Some are extendable up to about 16 feet. Others are about 10 to 11 feet long but then they have extra poles to add to the handle! These can be extended as high as I want!

It doesn’t matter if you prefer the extension or extendable pruner, each of them have the same basic design at the cutting end. It is a pruning head attached to the end of the handle. This head has a hooked shaped end on it that gets set over the branch to be cut.

There is a rope attached to the pruner cutting blade, and after the pruner head is set in position on the branch I simply pull on the rope and it will snip the branch! After the cut is made, springs mounted to the pruner head will reopen the blade and I am ready for the next cut! Just watch out for the falling branch you just cut off!

Also, these units normally come with a saw mounted onto it, much like the hand saws. Those are for sawing off the bigger branches. The pruner can cut up to about two inch diameter branches. Anything thicker than that is when the saw blade comes in handy.

The pole saw I use in my tree pruning business is made by A.M. Leonard. It has a strong fiberglass handle and extension pieces can be added to it. I don’t often use the saw for it, but the pruner head with the rope attached gets used! It works great for pruning small branches. I also use this when a tree limb is growing to close to a sidewalk or house. We have several handles to add on for higher projects.

My Tree Branch Cutting Tools

As a professional tree pruner for 15+ years I have quite a bit off experience with different tree branch cutting tools. When using a tool very often I am going to want something that will last a long time! So I usually buy the sturdy and more expansive brand. Felco pruners or Corona loppers are trusted name brands for professional use. A.M. Leonard or Jameson pole saw pruners are excellent quality and can reach high!

While these are the tools I recommend, they might not make sense for the projects you have in mind! Do you have any experience using similar tools or have a question you would like answered? You can simply ask them in the comment section below and I will be happy to discuss!

Your Arborist Friend: Justin

Best Tools For Christmas – Favorite Gifts

Look at the calendar and Christmas is just around the corner. Already!? Well it’s never too early to buy Christmas gifts, especially if you can find a tool you want or need on sale. Snap it up before the sale ends and you have an early gift for yourself or someone you love. A few of the best tools for Christmas include tools to cut or trim trees, branches, shrubs, and firewood.

Chainsaws – The Workhorse

best tools for christmas

Aah the master of wood cutting. The powerful chainsaw, fire it up and listen to the powerful roar of the engine and feel its power in your hands. A chainsaw could be one if the best tools for Christmas, but of course that depends on where you live and if you ever have any trees or firewood to cut.

I have seen a lot of positive on the fairly new battery operated chainsaws. The battery usually last about as long as a tank of gas would and a huge benefit is the instant start, no need to pull the starter rope on a stubborn chainsaw that doesn’t want to run!

For those who only use a chainsaw several times a year a battery saw could be a one of the best tools for Christmas gifts, they don’t need to worry about a gas carburetor gumming up and basically if you have a few spare chains you are set for years!

My favorite chainsaw brand is STIHL, we use mostly STIHL in our family owned tree pruning and removal business. However, STIHL and Husqvarna are the top brands and geared toward commercial use. They do make a few models for residential use and there are many other brands farther down the ladder to choose from depending on your color and price preferences.

Hedge Trimmers – Finesse Pruning

best tools for christmas

Hedge trimmers may not be quite as common but what better way to trim you own shrubbery and landscaping? Maybe you prefer to let the experts take care of your outdoor work, but if you are feeling ambitious or need to get Dad out of the house and trim bushes away from the sidewalk so you can actually walk on it instead of through the lawn, then a Hedge trimmers could be a great Christmas gift!

Here again you can choose between a gas engine or battery powered, the battery powered hedge trimmers seem to really be taking off as people are adding them to their collection of outdoor battery powered tools!

STIHL is the brand I use but of course you can decide which best fits your budget and plan accordingly. If you have a cordless tool set you may be in luck if they also make a hedge trimmer!

Leaf Blower – Heavily Used

best tools for christmas

We have arrived probably the most popular outdoor power tool, the leaf blower or blower and or whatever you prefer to call this nifty and efficient machine! Simply pick it up and with a few yanks on the starter rope or simply pulling the throttle on a battery operated one and you will have your driveway and sidewalks cleared in no time!

A leaf blower is defiantly used year round and therefore an excellent item to include in the best tools for Christmas list! In early spring you will use it during spring cleanup, for leaves and small broken down sticks in your yard or driveway. In summer any grass clippings on the sidewalk can quickly be blown away! And the most popular use is in the fall when leaves fall from the trees.

Less common, but still works like a charm is to blow light coatings of snow off sidewalks and driveways! We actually use a backpack leaf blower at hospital outpatient buildings to keep the entryways clear for their customers! Works amazing for cold dry snow!

Hand Saw – Strenuous Work

If your still reading and hoping to find the best tools for Christmas that are non motorized and hand held you are in luck!

Can you believe they used to saw lumber by hand back in the old days, now we complain when the chainsaw don’t start or we need to use a hand saw to cut a few limbs. I agree it’s a lot of work to use a hand saw but keep the blade sharp and stick with small branches.

Try to use a thin blade for a narrow cut and a smaller saw for less weight. Keep an even and steady pace so we don’t tire as quickly and prepare yourself for the appetite you will work up!

Hand Shears / Pruners – Delicate Pruning


A hand shears is similar to a large scissors, with its blades about 12 inches long. The two handles open and close the blades and it’s designed to quickly shape a shrub. It is best used to cut small twigs roughly a quarter inch or less.

The hand shears could easily trim the top and sides of your shrubs if you only have a few and don’t believe it’s worth purchasing a motorized hedge trimmer.

For larger branches up to three quarters of an inch a hand pruners is ideal. This pruners has a smaller blade but is designed to cut much nearer the hinge point for more torque. It can usually by operate with one hand while the other hand throws out the branches that are being cut.

A tough and resilient hand pruners brand I love is Felco. We have been using it for years and a little oil to the hinge and an occasional sharpening keeps it performing admirably!

Leaf Rake – Who Hasn’t Used One?

best tools for christmas

The good old leaf rake! It can be used for just about anything the needs to be cleaned up or moved. And so many sizes, lengths and brands to choose from. Should it be made of wood, plastic, or metal? What about the handle, wood or metal? Should it have soft hand grips?

First you need to determine if you will be mostly raking leaves or sticks, then decide on the rest. To rake sticks you will want a strong aggressive rake, probably with steel tines and only a medium width.

To rake mostly leaves a wide rake is excellent and it can have metal or plastic tines. Although they generally are plastic for less overall weight.

Then pretty much just pick out the color or look of the rake you like and it will do the job for you!

Merry Christmas Or Whatever Time Of The Year It Is

I hope you enjoyed learning about tools we use in our business and which could be the best tools for Christmas gifts. Or even Fathers Day, Mothers Day, or a Birthday! Enjoy your own gifts and the holidays!

Your Arborist Friend: Justin