Our cottage lot covers 2.6 acres and is mostly wooded. What is the right size of chainsaw (14″, 16″, or 18″) for maintaining the property? Is there a rule that correlates the saw length to the diameter of trees you are cutting?
—Jim Long, via e-mail
There’s no rule except “the shorter the blade you can get away with, the better,” says Robin Wells, the co-owner of Simcoe Muskoka Tree Services. Anything with a 16″ bar is large enough. Of course, while chainsaws are good for serious brush clearing and tree removal, they’re not so useful for pruning because they’re heavy and awkward. “For most pruning, a chainsaw’s a little big,” says Wells. And “it’s not a tool designed for the best-quality cut.” So think about investing in some additional hand tools: pruning shears, long-handled loppers, or a pruning saw, which can cut through branches about as thick as your wrist.
Pruning tools are also safer than chainsaws, say our experts. (Obviously: The Texas Pruning Tool Massacre just doesn’t have the same terrifying ring to it.) If you’re going to get up onto a ladder to prune anything with a chainsaw, or are planning to brandish one above your head…don’t, advises Philip Adams, an arborist with Bartlett Tree Experts in Bracebridge. “Call a professional.”