Overgrown Privet Help

I am in zone 4 and have a string of about 10 privets running the lot line. Previous owners let these grow wildly out of control - I doubt that these were ever pruned or trimmed. They are roughly 15ft tall and wide but orignally had only a spattering of foilage. Each year, I've gone in and mainly concentrated on trimming out dead and damaged limbs and cutting out the other things growing in the middle of the privets (ie, little maple trees, weeds, etc) - this takes forever because it is a tangled mess of a decade or more without being maintained. However, the privets now have an abundance of foilage.
They seem much healthier now and I would like to go in and get their size under control and this will also help me get in and continue to prune away dead limbs and other things that I just can't weave my way to reach right now. What's the best way to get these trimmed down to size? I'd like to take them from 15 ft tall and wide to around 6-8 ft tall and wide then I plan to keep them pruned and trimmed to that size. Many of the branches are too large for most hedge trimmers, so do I just take a chain saw and swipe up, down and across to take 7 ft off the bush?
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I would be as brutal as need be. When I moved in to this house, the previous homeowner let one go for about 6 years. I have aggressively pruned it into a tree shape, cutting out many of the branches, cleaning out the cross growth, and drastically pruning the height. I use a bow saw on the larger branches. It will look like hell this year, but by next year no one will know that you did major surgery.
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Chain saws used where they will contact more than one stem at a time are very dangerous, kickback and the chain jumping the bar are more frequent under these conditions. When you take these privet down take them a foot or more lower than you intend to maintain and keep them wider at the base than the top.
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mostly top growth. A nursery person said I could cut them all the way down to a foot or so. Very early spring was suggested but I was already well into it. Through some selective pruning, it looks better already for this year so I may not do it next spring. Be careful with that chain saw.
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Our experience is that they are quite hardy and will survive even the harshest pruning. We finally dug ours out and replaced them with boxwood, mostly because the privets were so fast growing that they had to be pruned virtually weekly, and my wife was getting tired.
If you want the final hedge to be six feet, I would prune to four feet; that way you will have new growth to six feet that is a lot easier to prune than the trunks you probably have now.
Steve wrote:

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