What is the three-step cut for removing heavy branches?
Pruning of heavy limbs is a three-step process, to prevent bark on the trunk from tearing. The first cut is always an undercut (A), made no more than halfway through the branch from underneath. Next, an uppercut (B), from the top, just slightly farther out on the limb from the undercut, will leave a stepped-off stub.
If the limb is still very heavy and long, repeat the first two steps until you have still less weight. Then begin the final cut (step C) near the trunk, a one-step cut from above or below, depending on what angle suits the tree best. Make this just outside the branch-bark collar or ridge, which on many trees is a visibly raised spot where trunk and limb tissue meet. Never cut into the collar; but never leave a big stub, either. The tree will heal itself without wound paint; just leave the collar intact. (Illustration from the National Arbor Day Foundation.)