How to Use a Pole Saw? [Beginner’s Guide and Useful Tips]

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Do you truly aspire your garden to look slick and manicured throughout the year? No matter what season/climate it is – sunny, rainy, winter or even Covid season? For all those “picture perfect sceneries” in your mind to come into reality, there’s this one tool which is of utmost importance – a pole saw. The right kind of pole saw can make pruning jobs easy and cut logs to manageable sizes for firewood.

A pole saw can be a very valuable tool for homeowners who want to keep their garden or yard manicured at all times. On a short side note, pole saws don’t just stick to helping you keep your garden beautiful by pruning, cutting, felling, trimming etc., they also assist you in times of unexpected disasters like hurricanes, cyclones, and tornados. You’ll see why as we move on.

If you have a garden with many trees in need of regular trimming, or do plenty of landscaping, you will find the pole saw a very valuable and powerful tool as a pole saw, simply put, is a miniature saw on a long pole as the word itself implies.

But finding the right pole saw is truly a time consuming and confusing, difficult choice for most beginners – the ones who actually care about getting a good one in hands. Which is why this beginner’s buying guide is here to help you out!

Each type of pole saw has its own pros and cons for sure. I’ll be peculiarly listing all of it and more necessary stuff which you’ll need (so that you don’t have to go on a search spree again for that information). In simple terms, this one page will be all you need to know to make that first pole saw purchase!

Types of Pole Saws

Cordless pole saws are powered by batteries, mostly lithium ion batteries these days as they are much more powerful and long lasting than the Nickel ones. These kind of pole saws are great for home gamers who have small to medium amount of trees to cut occasionally.

Being essentially “cordless” makes these power packed tools easy to carry around almost wherever you’d like. Their light and ergonomic design allows them to be the most portable kind of all pole saws. You can simply sharpen the blades and you’re good to smash down branches of up to 8 inches in diameter, with no trouble (depends on upon the specific model).

Maintenance Level: medium. Just take good care of your battery and blades. Buy a good quality battery and charger set the first time itself.

Average weight: 8 – 12 lbs

Lawn size: small (frequent use)

Safety: pretty safe to use. Very low kickback risks.

Price Range: $100 – $300

Main drawback: the least powerful type of the bunch.

Main advantage: portability and easy maneuverability. No wires dangling around. Take it anywhere with you for road trips and camps.

Best for: homeowners, beginners and occasional users.

Gas-powered pole saws are better called as the beast amongst all types of pole saws. They consist of a considerably large fuel tank in which you’ll have to mix oil and gas to refill. Their tremendous power and ability to take down the toughest trees and nature’s will in a matter of minutes, is unbeatably amazing. They are equipped with heavy-duty chains and bars to cut thick branches – the kind that electric poles cannot manage!

This is the most powerful kind of pole saw available, built to perform heavy-duty tasks with ultimate perfection. Logs will turn into firewood almost effortlessly. So if you’re someone who loves to organize camp fires often, then this is a must-have DIY tool for sure! Yes, it is noisy but HEY YOU’RE GETTING TONS OF WORK DONE IN HALF THE USUAL TIME!

Gas pole saws can cut branches up to 12” thick. Almost swipes through soft wood. The best part is that you can work for long hours without ever having to stop for recharging. No interruptions or delays. Just holding this machine in your hand will make you want to quit your job and become a lumberjack.

Maintenance level: high. The more work it does, the more pampering it needs. Just like humans, right?

Weight on average: 15 – 20 lbs

Lawn size: as large as it can possibly be.

Safety: depends upon the user’s practice and experience. If you know how to work it properly and practice balancing out the weight often, safety won’t be a problem at all.

Price range: $100 – $400 (depending upon type of gas pole saw)

Main drawback: too pricey for some. Might be hesitant to make such a big one-time investment. Not as environmental friendly as the other options.

Main advantage: the mightiest of em’ all. Highly recommended for owners with large areas of land to trim often and for professional users too. The larger the engine, the more power you’re gonna get.

Best for: professionals and home owners who want pro tools and machines to handle their heavy duty tasks.

An electric pole saw primarily needs an electrical outlet to start up, obviously. These are perfect for those who have a good amount of trimming and cutting work to do in their yard. Electric pole saws vary a ton in power and durability depending upon the model you choose. On average, these mini monsters can cut branches from 2 to 8 inches in diameter.

Having no battery or fuel tank is a huge plus to these kind of pole saws as they are naturally lightweight and compact in design. Their feathery nature allows brand to incorporate the most add-on features to them. If you have back pain issues and would like to get one as easy on your arms as possible, electric pole saws are to your rescue!

Maintenance level: minimum. No chaos of refueling or recharging batteries. Only sharpen the blades properly.

Weight on average: about 8 lbs

Lawn size: medium to large

Safety: you have to be extremely cautious around wires and power lines to avoid any mishaps.

Price range: $90 – $350

Main drawback: wires, wires and wires. Restricts the distance you can go from the plugged in electrical outlet.

Main advantage: the lightest of them all. Great value for trimming small sized, high up branches. Perfect for garden care (shrubs and trees).

Best for: anyone who knows how to operate it.

Manual pole saws, as the name suggests, has to be operated fully by the user himself/herself. Unlike other kinds of pole saws, this hand-operated tool’s source of energy is derived wholly from the user’s strength and skill of hand.

If you have the confidence to take complete charge of all the trimming, pruning and clipping work by yourself, this manual pole saw is just the perfect match for you! – considering that you have a moderate amount of work in the yard.

Be cognizant of the skill set, will power and patience required to top off this tool’s practical functionality. Just like other pole saw types, these manual ones too, come with multiple awing features such as interlocking fiberglass pole, pull-cutting teeth, locking mechanism, extension poles and more!

Looking for a low-cost alternative to get rid of those frustrating little branches that prick your face while walking past a tree? This budget option has got you covered mate!

Maintenance Level: low. All you need to primarily take care of is the blades – from moisture and blandness.

Weight on Average: 5.9 – 10 lbs

Lawn size: small (occasional use)

Safety: the safest option you can go for, without second thoughts.

Price range: $60 – $170

Main drawback: speed and strokes’ precision is fully dependent upon your skills and endurance only. No external source of energy to power the trimming process.

Main advantage: a very economical pole saw that does its job well by eliminating the need of ladders to dust (can be adjusted to even 26ft high with extensions)! No need to spend hundreds of dollars on just a few branches.

Best for: homeowners with a low amount of trimming work to do.

  • Hydraulic pole saws

– Only professional use this.
– 50% more speed and power.
– Considerably lighter than electric pole saws.

Let’s not get into much of hydraulic pole saws as they are still a secondary, unpopular choice to most. These are most used by PROFESSIONALS ONLY. Undoubtedly, as you may have guessed already, these are for heavy double-duty tasks only.

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10 Steps to follow while using a pole saw

Okay now, let’s get quick to the safety part of this buying-guide. I advise you, as a reader, to not skip or just skim through this part, and please note that this is the part which most people neglect as “all known already” and then…unfortunately…end up in 911.

      • Check the weather – a mild weather which is neither forecasting rain, nor too dry (so that you don’t drain yourself) would be preferred. Visibility is key.
      • Clear out the area you’re going to work before handedly – no electrical wires, debris that you may stumble over, for at least a perimeter of 15 metres minimally. Removing the sub-branches first will make it easier for you to cut the big branches, as the weight of the branch will reduce.
      • Check all the essential parts of the pole saw for any damage or adjustments like loose screws, bland blades, chain in place, oil lubrication, battery check, fuel check etc.
      • In case there seems to be adjustments required, take no chance in hurry and fix them first!
      • Read the safety manual given (along with the tool) once more.
      • Wear appropriate protective clothing such as chaps, hearing protection, goggles, gloves, hard hat/helmet etc.
      • Keep in mind the cutting capability of your tool and the diameter and thickness of the branch you’re going to cut. Make sure it’s compatible i.e. Don’t go for a 12” diameter branch when your pole saw is designed to cut max 8” only.
      • Never cut branches over your head! A deadly mistake that can cause fatal injuries.
      • Find the correct angle to cut and steady yourself in a right position which won’t affect you when the branches fall.
      • Do a quick test run before beginning – to reassure its functional condition.If all goes well, then you’re perfectly good to go. Make these 10 simple steps, not a boring “duty” but a regular HABIT before trimming.Extra tip: make sure to have a small first aid kit nearby in case of minor injuries. Take regular breaks too!Moving on…

10 Advantages of Pole Saws

      • Multiple Options

A huge ray of options – as I’ve previously explained in details, pole saws vary a ton in all shapes and sizes. The 3 main basis of their variations are power, length, and weight. Brands tune these 3 things in different modes and proportions so that you can have your perfect yard partner.

      • Saves You a Ton of Money in the Long Run

No more heavy maintenance bills! I’m guessing that the main reason why you’re here on this page. Expensive lawn care/ garden care companies don’t just scrape trees and bushes form your yard, but also the money from your pockets.

Buying the right pole saws for your yards that will last for decades, is, one of the best one-time investments you can bless your amazing garden with.

      • Higher Accuracy and Precision – Lesser Human Error

Whatever the task may be, taking over direct control, subconsciously and quite evidently increases accuracy and precision of the end result.

Why let someone else do it when you can take charge yourself? Not just that. Using a pole saw also minimizes the possibilities of human error.

      • No More Ladder Anxieties

One of the BIGGEST advantages of a pole saw is obviously the extensive height factor which eliminates the need of risky ladders and scary stumbling climbs on it. I’m pretty sure no one fancies taking a huge saw in one hand and climbing up a 20 ft ladder, let alone vigorously trim branches so high.

Leave no way for your anxieties and acrophobia!

using a pole saw ryobi brand


      • Easy Adjustment and Positioning

Many brands have included telescoping shafts as something of a basic feature of pole saws. These telescoping shafts allow you to adjust the height and positioning of the shaft according to your convenience.

You can now trim your branches with great ease and flexibility even in the most cramped spots.

      • Easy to Operate

These tools require no heavy training or methods to operate them. All it needs is a little guidance and practice at the start and then, cautious conscience of your safety and security throughout the task.

Have a thorough read through the manual, set it up, take the precautions appropriately, and you’re ready to go ahead with your trimming spree.

      • Lightweight and Ergonomic

Most pole saw models nowadays come induced with advanced technology lightweight and ergonomic design perks as we humans always aim towards more and more comfort and convenience.

No more back pain belts needed while pruning ,as most companies/brands strive towards giving you the highest comfort level while reducing fatigue too.

Some of the lightest pole saws can be even 7.5 lbs!

      • Considerably Appropriate Maintenance Level

Pole saws only require a stagnant level of maintenance expenses, essentially, IF you provide proper cleaning, care and damage checks for your tool, regularly.

      • State-of-the-Art Technologies are Used

Pole saws are known to have high-tech advancements in almost every aspect of their working parts. The same goes for their outstanding engine and motor support with various exclusive cutting technologies to provide you unbeatable performance.

All these will in return enable you (the user) to get the most out of the machines by using their tremendous power and built-strength.

      • Versatile Nature

There are quite a number of pole saws, which don’t just cut high-up branches efficiently, but, also turn into a leaf blower, hedge trimmer, pruner etc in just a twist, click and lock of mere seconds.

What’s more needed? More work done and better benefits with lesser space consumption at the same affordable price tag! Imagine boasting a powerful 3-in-1 or even 5-in-1 beast in your hands! That will definitely become a go-to tool for most of your garden tasks.

      • Compact Storage

Foldable and stretchable shafts and pole saws give you all the more freedom to take it along with you anywhere there’s work and store if safely wherever you’d like – as long as it’s dry and moisture free (unless you’d also like to ruin your blades).

Such pole saws will only take up a mere small space in your garage without much stumbling and tumbling.

All these benefits are open to you just for the one-time price you’ll be paying for a pole saw. Now you decide for yourself, if all these benefits are worth taking a chance on a quality pole saw or nah?

How to Properly Operate a Pole Saw

man using a pole saw in his yard

  • Position yourself and hold tight and firmly to your machine that’s about to roar.
  • Start your pole saw according to the type you’re using, pull-starts (for gas pole saws), switch, press-and-release button etc.
  • Start cutting by making a groove with slow and steady strokes.
  • Then consistently build up the speed and momentum by making sharper strokes.
  • Preferably, start from the low branches and then move higher up.
  • No pressure should be exerted from your side on the machine. Let the chain and blade do the work. That’s the whole point of a polesaw.
  • Unless your pole saw has an auto lubrication mechanism, press the oil lubrication button or manually lubricate the chain every now and then.
  • After pressing the stop button (or by other means), let the machine itself come to complete stop.

Many pole saws are light and durable because of their aluminum bodies; some have flip and lock clamps and low kickback assurance. But still, no matter what added goodies pole saws come with, cutting branches at great heights still remain a dangerous business and should be carried out as cautiously as possible.

In case of very thick branches that your pole saw isn’t compatible to cut, always call in for professional help with no hesitance.

Tips to Choose the Perfect Pole Saw for you

  • Length of the pole saw

You’d probably know how tall your tallest trees are. So wisely choose a pole saw that is long enough to reach the tallest tree. And of course, that’s the whole point of a “pole” saw. You’re looking for a tool that can replace your ladder and trim your trees well, right?

Telescoping, adjustable pole saw trends are on the rise now. These features will essentially allow you to adjust the saw’s height at a desired length and lock it – for further comfort and précised cuts.

Note: The “Maximum Reach” or “Working Height” doesn’t indicate the actual length of the pole saw, but rather the full height including your arm’s reach. So don’t be bluffed by their max reach advertisements without understanding the actual scenario you’re going to be in. Always calculate it along with your arm’s length too.

  • Blade Size

The thicker the trees, the longer the blade is ought to be. Choose a cutting bar length that won’t affect your smooth cutting operation even on your thickest branches / logs. This is a must-do to ensure the blade doesn’t get stuck midway or cause other unexpected injuries.

Measure the maximum diameter of branches you’ll be cutting before you proceed further on your pole saw purchase.

The Standard Rule of Thumb: make sure the cutting bar is at least 2 inches longer than your longest diameter of branch.

  • Frequency of Use

How often you’ll be using the pole saw is also a determinant in finding the most compatible and affordable pole saw for you. If you’ve got tons of trees to trim and would have to probably use it regularly, go for a gas-powered pole saw (my personal recommendation). Electric and battery ones are mostly suitable for non-frequent use.

  • Yard Size

As previously mentioned under each type of pole saw, yard size is a complementary consideration to the type of pole saw you’ll need. Check and recheck the best option you can get for your lawn size.

  • Local Repair and Replacement Services Available

This is an important thing that most buyers usually overlook at the start and regret latter on. Before making a purchase, ensure you have a good dealer and local repair service centre nearby so that you can seek their assistance in case of any damage or replacements needed. This will keep you out of frustrating calls and delays.

  • Budget

Never overspend or under spend. Stick to the pre-set budget and only make slight adjustments if necessary. Sometimes, lawn / garden care enthusiasts like me tend to get over excited and overspend or get too nervous and under spend on a cheap purchase.

Do proper research and ensure that both the product’s price and fore coming maintenance expenses are accountable in your designated budget. Make a worthy one-time investment that you’ll never have to look back at!

  • The Best Energy Source

What is the best source of energy available that you can provide your pole saw? Do you have the necessary electrical outlets? Do you have a gas station nearby?

Well basically, I’m trying to say that you have to decide before hand which type of pole saw you need as the major difference between them is the source of energy they use in order to function.

Remember corded or cordless? Figure out and estimate your supply capability, portability requirements and restrictions.

  • Weight/Portability

Weight is another important factor that will determine how long you can use the tool in one go. To get optimal benefits out of your pole saw, ensure that you’re able to balance out the pole saw’s weight with your arm strength. You know your strength and stability more anyone else!

This will also decide the portability factor of your tool. The lesser the weight, the more portable it will be.

  • Noise Level

Noise level is a very essential consideration point if you’re in a neighborhood with sensitive neighbors who ain’t cool with such noises. If you guess that they might not be able to bear with the noise level of your pole saw (especially if you’re planning to use it frequently), it’s better to go with the less noisy options available.

Electric and battery operated pole saws make minimal noise and of course gas powered ones are totally out of the “low noise” arena.

Note: Vibration-reducing features are also another plus to take note of.

  • Experience Required to Handle the Pole Saw

Gas powered pole saws require much more practice, precision and guidance to master it. Safety always comes first. So if you’re looking to buy more complicated types of pole saws, have someone experienced nearby to guide you until you’re all good on your own.

This might be something that puts you off at first, but once you get a hold of how to use it, there’s nothing else on your way. I’m sure that there’s at least someone or anyone you know who’s a pro at it!

  • Maintenance Level

Keep in mind the after-purchase maintenance expenses and care required for your tool. Maintaining proper care of your machine is mandatory in order to make them long-lasting and sturdy. Else, your investment might just do down the drain. We don’t want that!

  • Additional Features

Most pole saws have multiple add on safety and comfort features such as ergonomic designed handles, lock clamps, dual-locking system, low kickback risks, angled head, hook on tip, curved shaft, telescoping shaft, removable saw head etc. to attract customers. These will be a great delight too!

Note: Don’t be too awed by the additional features that you overlook the main functional features of the pole saw!

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Wrapping it up

I’m pretty sure we all know that one person in the neighborhood, whose garden makes us envy him/her whenever we cross it. Now, by all means, that person and garden can be you and yours too!

With a little work and patience, you can carve the garden or lawn of your dreams in a time span shorter than you think.

I hope that I’ve made the “to find out” things much simpler and easier for you to grasp and analyze to choose the right type of pole saw you’ll need, with this full-packed buying guide!

It’s fully on your hands now to decide for yourself and make a worthy purchase! Choose wisely, pay lesser, work smarter!