Chainsaws are designed to carry out a range of tasks but some saws are more suited to certain duties than others. When you’re looking to buy a new chainsaw you may come across some terms which you are not familiar with.

So, let’s saw through the jargon! In the article below we detail what some of these terms mean and the type of saw you are likely to need to carry these tasks.

Bucking

This is the process of cutting a felled tree or log into lengths.Cutting terms explained

If the tree is lying completely flat on the ground, the biggest challenge is not running the saw chain into the earth, a scenario which will result in your chain losing its sharpness. There are a number of safety rules which you should observe when bucking logs. First, for obvious reasons, if you are carrying out this task on a slope ensure that you stand on the uphill side of the log. If possible, try to raise the log from the ground using a saw horse. If this is not available then use other logs or any remaining limb stumps. In all instances you need to ensure that the object being sawn is firmly supported.

The type of saw you will need depends on the size and type of wood. Engine and motor size, as well as the bar length are important factors here. To saw through a log in a single pass you should remember the 2 inch rule, which basically means that the blade should be at least 2 inches longer than the diameter of the log. If done correctly you will be able to saw through a log with a diameter twice the size of the blade – although this will not be in a single pass.

In terms of engine and motor size, for logs around 8-12 inches in diameter you will need a top end consumer electric chainsaw, such as the Worx WG303.1. You can check out our full review of the Worx HERE. Anything less than 14.5 may be insufficient for regular cutting. For gas powered saws, something between 32cc and 41cc would be adequate. For regular bucking of logs with a diameter of over 12”, you will need a gas powered saw. For wood with a diameter between 12” and 16” a saw between 42cc and 50cc would be suitable. For heavy duty cutting above 16”, a saw above 50cc would be required.

Limbing

This is the process of removing branches from a fallen tree.

Although on the face of it limbing sounds like a relatively simple task, particular care is needed because awkward cutting positions are very common and you are in danger of jeopardizing safety if your foot positioning is unsteady.

As with bucking there are several rules which you should follow. Firstly, if possible leave the large limbs positioned under the tree until last as they provide support while cutting. Secondly, always ensure that the tree is kept between you and the saw, in other words stand on the opposite side of the tree from the limb being cut.

For limbing trees you will find that electric chainsaws are suitable. The best type of saws are medium duty gas powered saws (engine 30 and 41cc: bar size up to 18 inches). Larger gas saws can also be used but these may be difficult to handle and maneuver.

Pruning

Pruning, also referred to as trimming, involves cutting limbs from a living tree.

Again this sounds like a simple task but there is a right way to prune a tree and a wrong way.

The wrong way is to stand on a ladder, cut above shoulder height and saw through the branch near the trunk in a single cut. Whenever you cut above shoulder height you are over-reaching which is extremely unsafe. If you are standing on a ladder and cut through the limb don’t rely on it falling safely to the ground. It is just as likely to spring back and knock you off your perch!. In any of these circumstances you should either use a pole saw or get a professional on the job.

PruningThe correct technique for taking off a limb involves making several cuts. The first is an upward cut about six inches from the trunk on the underside of the limb. This cut, made with the top of the guide bar, will be made about a third way through the limb diameter. The second cut is made a further two to four inches out on the limb and is straight through the limb. The third cut, made with the top of the bar, is as near to the trunk as possible on the underside of the limb. This cut will be about a third of the limbs diameter. The final cut is made from the top just above the third cut and will be made until they join, removing the limb.

For light trimming and pruning, electric chainsaws or light duty gas chainsaws (between 30-35cc) are ideal. The Remington RM1425 Limb N Trim and the Husqvarna 240 2 HP both fit the bill. You can of course use large saws but remember these are likely to be more difficult to handle.

For more heavy duty pruning you may need to scale up on power and guide bar size.

Felling

Most people will be familiar with this term, which means cutting down a tree.

Small trees, up to six or seven inches in diameter are usually felled with a single cut. Taking down larger trees involves two cutting procedures. The first is called the ‘notched undercut’ where a notch is cut on one side of the tree to direct its fall. The second procedure is the ‘felling back cut’ which is a cut made on the opposite side of the tree from the ‘notched undercut’.

The type of saw recommended depends on size, as follows:

TypeBar Length (Inches)Small TreesMedium TreesLarge Trees
Electric8 - 16GoodNot suitableNot suitable
Gas (30-35cc)8 - 16RecommendedGoodNot suitable
Gas (36 - 41cc)16 - 18RecommendedGoodNot suitable
Gas (42 - 50cc)18 - 20GoodRecommendedNot suitable
Gas (50cc +)20 - 24GoodRecommendedRecommended

You should remember that bars over 20 inches long can be difficult to handle so unless you are an experienced saw user, these should be left to the professionals.

Storm damage clear up

Storm damageAs we all know, storms can wreak havoc, leaving a trail of broken, bent and uprooted trees. Unless it is very light clean-up electric saws aren’t suitable for this task. Gas saws between 30cc and 41cc will do a satisfactory job, but saws with 42cc plus are recommended.

As with all power tools, performance will vary from model to model. Be sure to check out our reviews to get a detailed low down on each product.

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