Getting Down And Dirty With Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades

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Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades

When it comes to landscaping work, one of the most miserable jobs is trying to remove old bushes and trees. The actual cutting down of the offending tree or shrub isn’t usually too onerous a task; the miserable part lies below the surface. Shovels and pickaxes are great for exposing the roots, but most of us are reluctant to dip our pricey chainsaw blades into the dirt to cut them out. Standard reciprocating saw blades work well to get at the tangled mass below ground, but they don’t have much of a life expectancy once they dip into the grime. We recently received an assortment of Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades to try out; we’ll show you how they fared in the battle of Man vs. Wood (and Dirt!).

Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades
Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades, ready to do battle with nature.

When I’ve used Sawzall blades for pruning in the past, I generally grabbed whatever wood-cutting blade I had handy. Milwaukee designed the new blades specifically to cut through branches and roots quickly, with an aggressive three tooth-per-inch layout. My favorite feature, though, is the ability to attack roots down in the dirt – without instantly destroying the blade. Here are the rest of the specs from Milwaukee:

• Fastest Cuts Above and Below Ground
• Ability to cut through clean wood, tree branches, and roots
• Optimized carbide that withstands underground abrasives (rocks, sand, dirt)
• Low blade profile, designed for root removal
• 3 TPI design for fast cutting into clean wood
• Large gullets to avoid debris build-up
• Carbide teeth for up to 50X Life
• 1/2″ universal tang
• Offered in 1PKs and 3PKs

Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades Vs. Carbon Steel Blades

When doing battle with nature, you need any edge you can get. On Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades, that edge is tipped with carbide teeth. Milwaukee claims the carbide provides up to 50 times the usable cutting life of a standard carbon steel blade.

Three carbide teeth per inch, ready to get fast and furious…

One thing I noticed, as I got ready to insert one of the pruning blades into my Sawzall, was its heft. These blades are noticeably thicker and more robust than a standard reciprocating saw blade. When you’re cutting thick tree limbs, or burrowing around in the dirt, that added heftiness will definitely be your friend.

Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades are extra thick and durable.

Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades Meet Roots – And Limbs, And Trunk…

Shortly after receiving our assortment of Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades, my daughter and her husband graciously offered to provide a testing ground. The area behind the old home they recently bought hadn’t had a lot of landscaping love in the last quarter-century or so, and they wanted to clear an area for a patio. They had already cut down the bushes, but had saved the roots as a special treat for me.

The bushes had gone away, but the roots remained, ready to be exposed…

My son-in-law and I got busy, and cleared space around the roots with a shovel. Using a 9” blade in the saw, I went after the tangled root masses beneath each ex-bush. Most of the roots weren’t very thick, at 2” or less, but there were a LOT of them.

Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades
The Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades zipped right through the roots – and the dirt.

The Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades made very short work of severing all the roots. Even the thickest roots were quickly severed, and the blade had no trouble at all burrowing through the sandy soil. When we finished, the blade was dirty and missing a bit of paint, but it cut through the last roots as quickly as it did the first.

Another one bites the dust.
All done. On to the next project.

A Somewhat Bigger Challenge

Next up on the landscaping hit list was the removal of a poorly-placed tree, with a roughly 8” trunk. My son-in-law used one of the 12” Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades to remove all the limbs, then cut the trunk down, leaving about two feet of it protruding.

The tree was down, but still VERY solidly attached to terra firma…

Using a mattock and shovel, we cleared dirt from around the root area, and proceeded to attack the roots. The tree roots were much less cooperative than the bush roots had been. Some of them were 5 or 6” in diameter, and, like the Hydra of trees, it seemed like for every root we severed, two new, larger roots appeared.

Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades
The blade chewed steadily through thick roots…
And dirt. Lots of sandy, abrasive dirt.

We persevered, though, cutting through as many roots as we could get to. In almost every case, the blade was also digging into the surrounding dirt with every stroke. It didn’t seem to faze the blade at all, though, and eventually we cut through enough of the maze of roots to allow us to topple the trunk using our (and by our I mean my son-in-law’s) brute strength.

After cutting a LOT of roots, we were able to topple the trunk.

Dishing The Final Dirt On Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades

After using Milwaukee’s carbide blades on these two projects, all I can say is Wow! The blades are beefy enough to withstand a fair bit of abuse, and they stay sharp enough to do a LOT of cutting. We used the same 12” blade to get through all the tree roots that my son-in-law used to take the tree down, and cut up all the limbs, and it was still cutting well when we finished.

Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades
One blade cut the tree down, cut up all the branches, and ate the roots for dessert.

Milwaukee offers the blades individually, and in three-packs. Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades are available in 6”, 9” and 12” lengths, and the universal tang is designed to fit most reciprocating saws on the market today. If you have trees or shrubs to tame, whether above or below ground, grab a few, and go play in the dirt.

Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades

Buy 12 inch Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades Now - from the Home Depot

Buy 9 inch Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades Now - from the Home Depot

Buy 6 inch Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades Now - from the Home Depot

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About Phil

Phil’s path to the pinnacle of success as HomeFixated’s Senior Writer was long and twisted. At various stages of his life, he worked as a framing carpenter, attended motorcycle mechanics school, served as an Army MP, did a hot and itchy stint installing insulation in Phoenix, owned and operated a small contracting firm doing residential renovations, and worked as an employee of a major airline (Motto: We’re not happy ‘til YOU’RE not happy). He is currently semi-retired, but continues to take on little projects, such as the total renovation of an old farmhouse. Yes, he is a slow learner. Future projects include a teardown restoration of his 1965 BMW motorcycle, and designing and building a kick-ass playhouse for his grandsons. Phil loves spending time outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, cool tools, and a cold IPA when beer o'clock rolls around.

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3 thoughts on “Getting Down And Dirty With Milwaukee AX Carbide Pruning Blades”

  1. My experience with carbide was gained thru working in machine shop. I learned that Carbide breaks very easily if you stop the machine and do not move the carbide cutting tool away first. also , carbide needs to run fast and not stop the machine in the middle of a cut. How would this apply to a carbide blade during tree pruning where a movement of a branch can bring the cut to a sudden halt? Were you aware of these facts?

    • Thanks for your thoughts Eloy. Cutting trees and drilling metal are pretty different activities. I suspect the Milwaukee AX pruning blade can handle a branch moving and the blade binding up.


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