The type of tool appropriate for cutting a tree depends on the desired result. If you are cutting a medium-sized or larger tree down, you would use one tool. If you are cutting branches from a tree or pruning the tree, a different tool might be appropriate. There are several common tree cutting tools.
A chain saw is a saw that has a bar around which rotates a chain with sharp teeth. Chain saws can be either powered by a gasoline engine or by electricity. There are three general sizes of chain saws. Chain saws designed for light cutting generally have an 8- to 12-inch guide bar. They are suited for cutting trees and branches 6 to 10 inches in diameter. Mid-sized chain saws have 14- to 20-inch guide bars and are suitable for cutting 12- to 18-inch diameter branches and trees. Large saws have bars longer than 20 inches and are generally only intended for professional use.
Hand saws, or pruning saws, are used to remove larger branches. In some cases, a hand saw can be used to remove a smaller tree. However, the weight of the tree may pinch down on the saw blade, making it more difficult to complete the cut. Hand pruning saws range from folding saws with curved or straight blades to bow saws. Bow saws have a blade that is stretched on a frame. The tension of the frame helps to keep the blade stiff while cutting branches. Pole-saws are saw blades mounted on long poles for cutting branches high above the ground. Common woodworking hand saws can also be used on trees. However, the teeth on these saws is better suited for dried lumber. A purpose-made pruning or tree saw will often work better.
Pruners are scissor-like tools that can be used to cut smaller branches from trees. Hand pruners are like scissors. Bypass pruners have two blades that cut with a scissor-like action. Anvil pruners have a single sharpened blade that presses down on a steel plate to perform the cut. Pole pruners mount a pruner on a long pole to help trim taller branches on trees. Hand pruners are generally good for branches 3/4 of an inch in diameter or smaller. However, some bypass pruners, called loping shears, have longer handles to allow more pressure to be brought to bear on the branch. Loping shears can sometimes cut branches up to 1 3/4 inches in diameter.