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Proper trimming and maintenance of trees and plants is an important aspect of all types of residential, commercial and industrial sites. Whether trying to keep an area clean or trying to maintain a healthy grove of fruit – the reasons for trimming and cutting tree branches are numerous. Very often the act of cutting branches can be awkward, dangerous, or difficult – usually all three. A pole saw lets you attack the branches of a tree without leaving the ground yourself. This significantly increases your overall safety as well as reduces the setup time it takes to cut branches from multiple trees.
A good pole saw and make your job easier, safer and faster – saving you both time and money (and perhaps your health) in the long run. This is tools is a great investment for dozens of professions and a large percentage of homeowners.
Our Top 3 Picks
Relatively new technologies, like powerful and long lasting batteries, have created a new generation of cordless electric pole saws and those make a strong showing on this list alongside classic gas powered tools and some corded devices. To consolidate what we know about these new tools and match them with many of the old favorites, we decided to add pole saws to our top ten lists of power tools. In our hunt, we found many tools that were just fantastic at getting the job done, while others were a real struggle to work with. Our list should help you figure out where to start in your personal hunt and which features and tools may be something to consider – and perhaps which are best to be avoided. In addition to the list, we have also included evaluation criteria as well as a short FAQ section. Theoretically, everything should be here to help you make an informed decision on a pole saw.
We made an effort to avoid duplicate reviews, so many of the tools on this list come from a larger family and have many similar ‘cousin’ tools that may only be different by a feature or two. If something on this list strikes your fancy, do a little more research and see if there is another slightly different version that fits your needs even more. We tried to include the best representative of the family, but that is really hard to quantify.
One last thing regarding the rankings themselves. These ranks are done in a price/value ratio. We will explain this further under the criteria section, but suffice to say, we tried to rate the tools on the basis of their abilities matched against their own price. To simplify it, a great tool may rank lower than a mediocre tool if we found that the great tool had a price that was much too high. This is purely subjective in many ways and it is up to you to weigh your own needs against the tools here – use the rankings as a guidepost rather than hard fact.
Normal yardwork is one thing, but once you get into pruning wood high off the ground, you’re entering dangerous territory. Pole saws are designed to make it easy to trim limbs and shrubs you can’t safely reach from the ground. Truthfully, there are a lot of reasons to invest in a pole saw, but let’s take a look at some of the most important.
It’s much safer to use a pole saw than it is to try and tackle a tree without one. By being able to utilize a small and lightweight chainsaw at the end of an extended pole, you can safely stand sure-footed on the ground while cutting or pruning branches above. This allows you to avoid trying to climb trees or use a ladder for pruning and cutting tasks. Most quality pole saws also feature ergonomical pole chain saw handles with anti-vibration properties, making them extra comfortable and easy to handle.
Pole saws are by far more convenient than having to utilize ladders, climbing equipment, and large chainsaws that take two hands to operate while dangling from a tree. However, thanks to the rise of cordless pole saws in recent years, pole saws are now more convenient than ever before. With modern battery packs capable of holding longer charges and adding little to no extra weight, cordless pole saws are super convenient to say the least.
Despite their ingenuity and cutting power, pole saws are rather affordable pieces of lawn care equipment. In fact, with prices ranging from $39-$249, they’re comparatively priced to weed eaters. If you’ve ever used a tree service before, then you know you can make back your pole saw investment with just one use, so there’s no reason why any home owner with a yard full of trees should go without one.
I have over 20 years of gardening and landscaping experience. From pruning apple trees and spruces to trimming palms and clearing brush, I’ve done it all over the years and have used pole saws to help me much of the time. Some time ago, I decided to turn my passion for gardening, landscaping, and horticulture into a career.
Today, I own a thriving business that specializes in all of these things and provides first-class service throughout our area. In my free time, or what little of it there is, I write helpful articles about pole saws and other lawn maintenance tools and work on this site. Why do I do it? Well, I know it sounds cliché, but I simply like sharing my knowledge with others. There’s nothing more to it, so you can expect nothing but honest, un-biased tips from an experienced tree trimming professional.
For this guide, I scoured the Web for advice and tips to add to my own and have tested dozens of different pole saws from various top brands. Also taking into account consumer reviews and the opinions of others, it’s safe to say you’re in the right place to learn all about pole saws and hopefully find the right one for you. Enjoy.
Pole Saws may be handy, but like any cutting tool, they can be quite dangerous as well. More often than not, pole saws come with instructional booklets. It’s important to read through the booklet before operating your pole saw for the first time in order to ensure proper usage.
Before operating the pole saw, you should inspect it to make sure it’s in good operating condition and safe to use. Then, clear the area between yourself and the tree and keep in mind the potentially hazard of falling limbs if you’re trimming directly overhead. After inspecting the pole saw and clearing any possible obstructions underneath the tree limb you are felling, you need to plan your cuts. Even the removal of a single limb typically requires a number of preliminary cuts and jump cuts prior to making the final cut.
When cutting branches, limbs, and so on, most of the time the blade should start at the top. When making a jump cut, however, you will want to start the blade and cut from underneath the limb. Since gravity isn’t on your side, this can be quite physically taxing, so it’s important to keep the weight of a pole saw in mind when making a purchasing decision.
Now, back on the topic of using a pole saw. With two hands, position the saw pole saw vertically and keep it in that position for a second to control its weight. Then, adjust the position of the saw to the cutting spot and rest its weight on the limb. With the saw resting in place, position yourself so you’re standing to the side of the limb and not underneath it while holding the pole saw at chest level. If you have an adjustable pole that can extend as needed, you may have to lengthen it in order to achieve a safe cutting angle.
Slowly and in control, begin cutting perpendicular to the limb and try to make the first cuts sink into the wood as much as possible, even if you need to go in a different direction with the rest of your cuts. The basic idea is to make a groove in the wood that will guide you later and allow you to make faster cutting strokes. It’s perfectly normal for the saw to slip sideways in the beginning when cutting sloped branches. Simply readjust the saw if this occurs.
When the branch gets to the point where it looks like it may fall, be ready to retreat quickly and safely if need be. Pole saws make cutting out-of-reach branches, vines, and brush super easy, so there’s not much more to it than that. That being said, we didn’t go over jump cuts, so here’s a great video that fully explains how to properly use a pole saw when trimming a tree:
From power sources and motor sizes to telescoping poles and anti-vibration systems, there are a lot of things to consider when shopping for pole saws. However, if you really want to find the best pole saw for you, your home, and your budget, here are some key considerations to keep in mind:
Like lawnmowers, weed eaters, and other types of lawn care or maintenance equipment, pole saws come in a wide variety of prices according to the features they provide. Most basic manual pole saws sell for under $100 and some gas-powered or electric models can sell for $200 or more, so you can rest assured there’s a pole saw out there for your budget.
While it’s nice having options and different types of pole saws to consider, there are noticeable power differences between the four major pole saw varieties. Therefore, it’s important to take the power of different pole saws into consideration as well.
Many of the top pole saw brands offer full or limited warranties on their products, but the warranty terms and lengths vary greatly. Since the cost of repairing a pole saw can be almost as much as purchasing a new one, it’s wise to go with a model with a longer warranty if you’re having a hard time making a decision.
The bar is the area the chain travels around, so the longer the bar, the more cutting ability a pole saw will have. Most pole saws come with eight-inch bars, but some six-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch models are also available.
Some key features to consider when shopping for a pole saw are telescoping poles, lightweight and easy-to-maneuver designs, self-lubricating chains, and anti-vibration systems. Without these features, trimming and pruning hard-to-reach places would be much more difficult and dangerous.
Great quality pole paired with a good chain saw.
A bit heavy
Easy to use
Not intended for super heavy pruning
Chain guard chips gets battered quickly
Good balanced weight
Difficult chain adjustment
Requires oil that was not included
Excellent cuts on branches smaller than 4” in diameter
Bar and chain are lubricated automatically
Good set of safety features
Tools required to fully assemble
Some power issues with larger branches
Easy to put together
Cut through sizeable limbs
Feels a little underpowered at 25cc
Easy to use
Robust but not heavy
Good balance to it
Some have issues with the chain coming off.
Other people actually dislike the weight distribution
Easy to use
May require some manual tightening of the locking mechanism
Well designed - great balance and weight distribution.
Some solid features
Compact cutting head for improved agility
Flimsy back plate
Collar and motor housing connection finicky
Easy to store, start and use
Runs well and with good power
A bit heavy
Some shipping issues
Solidly built for the price
Will last a good long while if properly maintained
Saw housing is plastic
To create a list on the best pole saws available for purchase today, you have to compare and evaluate a huge array of devices ranging from the well designed and easy to use, to the awkward and downright dangerous. Needless to say, the number of tools we eventually evaluated was a bit overwhelming. To make sense of what we were looking at and to finally fully evaluate these tools, we had to invent a sort of criteria. Most of the criteria we based these evaluations on are pretty straightforward and involve aspects like price, weight and power. Some of the criteria are harder to quantify and are much more subjective, like comfort.
Occasionally on these lists, including this one, it may seem like a superior tool is getting a lower ranking than an inferior one. The truth is that we rate and ranked these tools on a final price/value ratio. We did our best to compare the output to how much you are putting in monetarily. I’ll explain this part a bit further under the explanation of price.
It is important to note that our assumed value and ranking may not have any relevance to your needs. If a tool is ranked highly but cannot accomplish the job you need doing, then from your perspective the tool will have a value of zero – regardless of how highly we think of it. Ensure you evaluate these tools on your scales.
Since this list included pole saws ranging rather drastically in price from one another, we had to decide how this stat would be used to create a balanced playing field from which to judge. We decided on a price/value system, where we roughly created a ratio of dollar spent to overall output received. This wasn’t an exact science, but if a tool could roughly do 75% of what another tool could do, but cost 33% or 50% as much, it was deemed to have an overall better value. This is why occasionally you will see a superior tool ranking lower than an inferior one – it couldn’t justify its much higher price.
Being able to work from several feet away is the point of a pole saw, so obviously, those that gave you a better reach and still maintained proper stability and maneuverability would get a boost in this area. Those that had a long range but suffered balance issues had to be considered on a case by case basis in most cases.
Many of the tools on this list are battery powered and it wasn’t until very recently that battery operated devices would be considered powerful enough to make a list like this. Every tool on this list can handle the majority of trimming tasks, while a few are more suited to small residential projects and a few are better suited to large, difficult trimming tasks. Generally speaking, the more cutting potential a tool has, the better we ranked it.
When it comes to pole saws, weight can be a significant factor. Very often you are trimming while holding the tool well above your head; this can get extremely tiring very quickly. Very often, workers will be cutting kilometers of trees. Stopping just simply isn’t an option when you have so much ground to cover. The less weight your tool can force you to hold up – while still delivering enough power to cut – the better it will be for your overall comfort and morale.
We made sure any heavy tool on this list made up for that aspect in another way.
This overlaps quite a bit with weight, but it’s not really the same. Working long hours can wear on your arms and core muscles, as well as other areas of your body. A comfortable tool will go a long way in reducing the fatigue and pain you feel at the end of a long work day and can very often keep morale up and you working faster.
Do you want to cut a vine or a thick branch, but you cannot reach the height from the ground with a pruning saw? You are engaging in a dangerous activity. For instance, when experienced arborists want to cut an enormous and thick piece of wood, they make use of a pulley system with ropes to safely bring it down to the ground. However, when you want to cut the same piece of wood using a pole saw, you can’t-do it like the professionals, you will drop the wood uncontrollably. When large or heavy pieces of wood fall, they can hurt, damage, or kill.
Therefore, what are the tips and tricks you can put into consideration when using a pole saw to ensure the work is done professionally and everyone is safe and sound?
Your chances for operating safely will only increase if you use an engine-powered pole saw, which is comfortable to use. Power, weight and reach are some of the important features to access before you start the work.
For instance, Remmington RM1025SPS has a 15-foot length and 8 Amp battery power but weighs 12.5 pounds. The Sun-Joe pole saw weighs 7 lbs, has a battery power of 6.5 Amp and features the same 15-foot length. As we can see, the units might be of the same length, but the heavier the saw, the higher the battery power. Also, the longer the pole saw, the heavier it is.
So, before you start the operation ask yourself: How much power do you have, how much reach do you need, and how heavy will the pole saw be?
Just like all other operations carried out in every workplace, it is important to perform a risk assessment before you begin any work. You should take note of control measures during the evaluation such as emergency procedures, workplace issues, exclusion zones, the surroundings, public access roads among others.
1. Operation Plan: Come up with an operation plan and communicate this to all workers on site. You should also consider the tree at this stage. Take the following into account: Can you cleanly carry out the operation with the pole saw without damaging the tree? Or, should a professional arborist prune the tree using the conventional method?
2. Professional Operator: If you are not experienced in cutting or trimming trees with a pole saw, you might cause an irreversible damage in a short time to the trees. Therefore, to operate the saw, you must be trained in operation and maintenance together with some knowledge in arboricultural.
3. Weather Conditions: Is the weather condition ideal for trimming trees? If it’s rainy, wet, or windy, you should not operate a pole saw. Also, know the state of the branch or tree you are planning to trim. Loose barks, dead branches and/or rotting trunks can make the pole saw function differently: it can saw slow, faster, or become more vulnerable to kickback.
4. Check the Area: Ensure the pole saw together with the tree you want to trim do not interfere with power lines and properties that could get damaged or pose a hazard to you.
5. Footing: Establish your two feet firmly for a good base. Do not stand on a ladder or tree while operating the saw. Also, work on the high side if the tree you are trimming is on a hill. This way, if anything falls or rolls downhill, you don’t have to worry about dodging it.
6. Two Hands: Just like you maintain a firm two-footed footing, you should also maintain a firm two-handed grip. First, ensure your handles are dry to prevent the hands from slipping. Also, wrap your fingers all around and squeeze the saw tight.
7. Technique. When you begin to cut or trim, don’t be in contact with the branch since your saw might jam. Start at a lower throttle before you come in contact with the branch. Additionally,45° is the ideal cutting angle. Cut slow and steady, maintaining a secure two-footed footing and two-hand grip.
1. When using a pole saw, ensure you have all the safety apparel or personal protective equipment (PPE). They include:
Also, avoid wearing jewellery and loose-fitting clothing since the branches or the saw can tangle them up. Also, ensure that your jacket, shirt, or/and sleeves are buttoned up.
2. Once you are ready for work, it’s time to ensure your pole saw is in working order too. Examine the chain for worn or missing teeth. Ensure the chain is lubricated properly and that the chain/automatic bar oiling system is operational. Inspect the bar and sprocket for damage or wear. Finally, check the safety features including the throttle lockout switch and the throttle lever.
3. In general, pole saws are not insulated. Therefore, avoid overhead power lines if you are not trained and certified to work with electrical tools.
4. Be up-to-date with any environmental and legal restraints such as disturbing wildlife or nesting birds and tree protection legislation.
5. Before cutting, asses the wood’s compression and tension so you don’t trap the saw.
6. Maintain a safe working zone at least 15 m between the machine in operation and bystanders.
7. Maintain a firm footing and keep the workplace clear of off cuts and fallen limbs as the work continues.
8. Choose an appropriate site for fuelling and starting the pole saw according to the operator’s manual.
9. Reduce the branch gradually until you cut it into manageable pieces.
10. Make sure the underside hook is always in contact with the branch you are cutting.
11. Use the pole saw at 60 degrees or less horizontally to minimize the injury risks from falling timber.
Sometimes the machine jams or kickback occurs. When it jams, shut off the engine until all the moving parts stop. Then un-jam it. On the other hand, kickback occurs when the chain is stuck while cutting or when the guide bar’s tip hits an object. To avoid kickback, maintain the firm two-hand grip.
When you are done with the pole saw, turn the engine off. When carrying the saw, the blade should be in front of you while the engine should be away from your body. When putting the machine back into the trailer, don’t forget to attach the cover of the guide bar.
If the saw had a minor problem, have it inspected by a professional repair mechanic. The last thing you would want is to go into the field with a saw that will not perform safely and efficiently.
As a mechanical piece of machinery, it’s important to perform regular maintenance on a pole saw in order to optimize its reliability and maximize its lifespan. After all, what’s the point in taking the time to purchase the best pole saw for you just to watch it slowly decay and no longer work in a few years? To help you keep your pole saw in tip-top shape and performing like new for years to come, here’s the rundown on important daily, weekly, and monthly pole saw maintenance routines.
Daily Maintenance Routines:
Weekly Maintenance Routines:
Monthly Maintenance Routines:
Also don’t forget that it’s important to disinfect your pole saw. Learn how to do it in this helpful report.
It’s important to note that many of these maintenance tips are for gas-powered pole saws only as electric and cordless pole saws require little to no maintenance. If you choose a gas pole saw, proper maintenance routines will help you prevent damage to your pole saw and keep it in prime working condition. By keeping up with these maintenance steps, you’re pole saw will always be ready for use whenever you need it.
Also known as pruning saws, pole saws are essentially small chainsaws attached to a pole, allowing people to make quick work of trees, vines, and brush with little to no effort. Pole saws come in four different varieties and have a number of safety and performance features.
Whether you choose a gas-powered pole saw, opt for an electric model, or go the cordless route, you must ask yourself some questions when deciding on the right pole saw for you. For instance, how many trees do you have in your yard or on your property? How big are they? Is there a 110 V outlet readily available to use? Are you older or is the weight of the saw an important factor? Is the noise level a concern? By answering these questions and a few others that are sure to come to mind, you’ll be able to confidently decide on the best pole saw for you and your needs.
Just imagine being able to trim those hard-to-reach branches without the use of a ladder and easier than ever before.