Trimming a Damaged Tree with a Reciprocating Saw

ridgid reciprocating saw and generac portable generator What do you do when you need to clean up a wind-damaged tree and you don’t own a chain saw?

You work with what you’ve got.

In my case, I had a reciprocating saw that showed promise and a portable generator. It seemed like a marriage of …well… convenience, if not practicality.

I’ll admit this is an experiment that’s been in the back of my mind for a while – particularly for dealing with the apple tree branches that threaten to clothesline me when I’m mowing around the orchard.

Those darn deer

storm damaged tree Like most of the trees we’ve planted here over the years, it had a structural problem caused by deer nibbling in it’s early years. It’s quite an accomplishment just to get a tree above deer height here without it looking like a candelabra.

There was already a 12″ split at the crotch that you could see light through so it wasn’t a surprise to find it had blown over during a severe thunder storm a while back.

The experiment

I haven’t used my reciprocating saw since our bathroom reno a couple of years ago so it still owed me. The last time I used the generator was during the power outage caused by the same storm that took half the tree down. Along with my ear protectors, I was good to go.

So I fired up the generator and went at it…
de-limbing fallen tree with reciprocating saw cutting up the fallen tree with reciprocating saw cutting broken branch at trunkfallen branch separated from trunk

After about 40 minutes I had it down to this… fallen branch de-limbed with reciprocating saw

In the end, I cut the main branch in half and used loppers to cut up the thinner branches to throw on the burn pile.


  • It worked pretty much as thought it would
  • I’m glad the tree wasn’t any larger
  • Maple wood is very hard
  • The saw got a bit warm but it worked well
  • The blade is now sub-optimal for further use

I know the other “half” of the tree is unsustainable but I’m going to let nature take it’s course. When it blows down, I’ll get a new blade for the reciprocating saw and repeat the process.

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