Let’s say that you need to remove a branch that is high up on a tree. You have the option of attempting to saw it off by hand while precariously clinging to a ladder, but since you are a smart human being, you decide that this probably isn’t the safest option. So how are you supposed to reach that pesky branch while keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground?
Enter the pole saw.
The simplest way to describe a pole saw would be to picture a lightweight chainsaw with a long stick attached to it.
The whole “chainsaw on a stick” might seem crazy at first, but for serious landscapers (and professionals), it’s an excellent tool to have on hand. A smart human being knows that this is a surefire method of getting yourself a one-way ticket to the emergency room. (Believe it or not, we have seen people try this before!)
Quick look: best pole saws for homeowners in 2019:
- Remington RM1025SPS: best pole saw for most people, electric, lightweight & straightforward to use
- BLACK+DECKER LPP120: this is the best cordless pole saw that I researched
- Greenworks 20672: another cordless option from a
well knownbrand, powerful with good extension
- Oregon PS250-A6: the most powerful pole saw I researched, very powerful, but expensive compared to the others
- Worx WG309: lightweight, simple to use, electric model
What Is a Pole Saw Used for?
A pole saw is simply a saw mounted on an extension pole. It is primarily used to make pruning and trimming trees from the ground much easier. Using traditional tools, like hand saws and pruning shears, to cut a tree requires the use of a ladder, which can be downright dangerous. Moreover, having to reposition a ladder over and over is simply hard work! Pole saws enable you to get around the ladder issue. They allow you to see what you are doing better, and they make light, short work of pruning.
How To Use a Pole Saw
In most instances, using a pole saw is a simple, straightforward process; however, it does require you to exercise caution and common sense – especially if you have never used one before. Here are a few steps to follow as you become accustomed to your new pole saw:
- Make sure your work area is clear. When branches are going to be felled (regardless of their size), all people and pets should be removed from the immediate vicinity. Trip hazards, like children’s toys or fallen branches, need to be removed. On the off chance that something should go wrong, you will need to be able to move quickly and freely.
- Visually map out a pruning plan. Pruning or trimming a tree is rarely as simple as removing a single branch. Numerous preliminary cuts will be needed to reduce the overall weight of the branch before making your final cut. You need to plan your steps in your mind, so you have a clear picture of what you are doing.
- Carefully position your pole saw. Using both of your hands, you should raise your pole saw into a vertical position. Pause there to give yourself a moment to calibrate its weight. Next, you should guide the pole saw to the place where you will be making the cut. The saw’s weight should rest against the branch.
- Position yourself carefully. Gripping the pole saw with both hands, you should move into a spot that will allow you to hold the pole saw at chest level comfortably. You should never, ever stand beneath the branch you are cutting. Instead, you should position yourself well off to the side. When you start to make your cut, the pole saw should be at an angle, as opposed to up and down. Most modern pole saws are adjustable so you can change the length to make this possible.
- Make your first cuts slowly. Your first strokes should be done slowly and with purpose. Ideally, the cuts should be made perpendicular to the branch. This creates a sort of groove that will take your faster, harder strokes later on. Sometimes, during the early strokes, your pole saw will attempt to slip sideways. If this happens, stop, muster your strength, and reposition yourself before trying again.
- Finish your cut. After the saw has been securely placed in the groove you created, you can increase the speed of which you are making strokes. Gravity will assist your pole saw in making cuts on the pull stroke. Make sure that you are keeping a close watch on the branch you are cutting. When it begins to fall, you’ll want to be in a position that will allow you to make a safe retreat if required.
- Clean up after yourself. If you will be trimming or pruning more than one branch, remove any downed limbs out of your workspace before moving on to the next limb. This will ensure that you will not be tripped up while working.
Types of Pole Saws
Pole saws generally fall into one of four primary categories: electric, cordless, gas-powered, and manual. Each type has its own sets of advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a brief overview of what each type has to offer:
Electric Pole Saws
Electric pole saws are popular among residential homeowners, because all you have to do to use it is plug into an extension cord, and you’re ready to begin trimming. These models are generally designed for small trimming jobs, and the average blade size ranges from 6 to 10 inches. Because they operate off of an electric motor, they require a minimum amount of maintenance.
Electric pole saws are much more lightweight than their cordless and gas powered cousins. This makes them simple to maneuver; however, the downside is that you will be limited to a 100-foot range of the electrical outlet you are plugged into.
Cordless Pole Saws
As you might have guessed by the name, cordless pole saws don’t have an attached cord. Instead, they derive power from a rechargeable battery. Although run time for these batteries varies from one manufacturer to the next, the average runtime is an hour. Ideally, you should look for a cordless model that has a lithium ion battery. Lithium-ion batteries offer a longer lifespan and better overall performance, even as the battery begins to lose its charge.
Like electric models, cordless pole saws only require a minimal amount of maintenance, like chain sharpening. Because they operate off of a rechargeable battery, you can use them almost anywhere, but, due to the limitations of the battery’s power, they are the least powerful pole saws on the market today.
Gas-Powered Pole Saws
Regarding performance and power, gas powered pole saws are considered the best. They are designed for the biggest trimming projects with stronger chains and bars. Shafts on these pole saws can reach as long as 9 feet – enabling users to trim taller bushes and trees without having to climb a ladder. The gas engines are more powerful than their electric counterparts, but these pole saws are well-balanced, which still makes them simple to operate.
While they are the most powerful, gas powered pole saws are also the most labor intensive, since the gas tank and other components require regular cleaning and maintenance. Of all four options, these pole saws have the loudest noise output, so wearing hearing protection is recommended.
Manual Pole Saws
Just like the name indicates, manual pole saws are not powered, except by hand. These models generally have a long, curved blade that is pushed back and forth to “saw off” the offending branches of a tree or shrub. Some models are equipped with pruning shears that are operated via a pull rope. Manual pole saws are ideal for pruning smaller branches that are high up in a tree. They are easy to handle, lightweight, and won’t leave you unable to bend over the next day. There is also the added bonus of not having to deal with electrical cords or a gas powered engine that doesn’t want to start!
Manual pole saws generally come with longer overall lengths than powered pole saws. Professional grade manual pole saws can reach as long as 21 feet in length, and it doesn’t require an enormous amount of brute strength to use one.
How to Determine the Best Saw to Buy
The first and arguably most important, thing you should look for in a pole saw is an ideal weight to power ratio. Using a pole saw requires a good deal of physical exertion because you are using your body to guide and support a saw that is high in the air. When you must hold 15+ pounds of weight away from your body for an extended period of time, your pole saw will become very heavy – very quickly.
In recent months, there has been a rise in the popularity of electric pole saws, especially among residential homeowners. Compared to their gas-powered cousins, they are slightly less powerful, but are also more lightweight, require less maintenance, and are less expensive. If you have a small lawn, an electric pole saw with an attached cord will the most lightweight and inexpensive option; however, they do have a limited reach. For homeowners with bigger lawns, a cordless electric model will be preferable. For either option, you should look for a pole saw that operates in the 8 amp energy range. These will be the models that offer the best energy usage.
Gas powered pole saws are favorites among professional landscapers and gung-ho homeowners. Most experts agree that the most efficient gas-powered models will operate in the range of 32 to 34ccs. In this range, the pole saw will provide sufficient power to cut through sizable branches quickly without being wasteful.
It is also important to remember that not all pole saws are created equally, even when they are of the same type. Before buying a new pole saw, there are two things you should do. First and foremost, go online and look up consumer written reviews. Doing so is going to enable to see what types of experiences other users have had with a particular model. It’s always advisable to do your homework before making a buying decision.
Secondly, take a look at the type of warranty the manufacturer is offering on a particular model you’re interested in. As a general rule of thumb, how long and how comprehensive a warranty is serves as a sign of how confident the manufacturer is in the product they’ve produced.
How to Maintain Your Pole Saw
To maximize its lifespan and ensure that it remains in excellent working order, your pole saw requires a certain amount of maintenance. For most models, their owner’s manual will provide detailed maintenance schedules, but here are a few general guidelines you can follow as well.
Each time you use your pole saw, your first step should be to check all of the bolts, nuts, and screws to make sure they are tight. Next, you’ll need to examine the trigger lock and trigger to ensure that they are moving normally before switching it on. Finally, take a close look at the chain to determine if it is free of breakage and other types of damage.
After you’ve finished using your pole saw, you should use a damp rag to wipe it down and do a basic cleaning. Don’t forget to clean beneath the blade’s protective cover. Debris can often get trapped underneath there. It is also a good idea to periodically check all connections and cables. If your pole saw came with a protective storage bag, it should be stored in there.
Gas powered pole saws require a bit of additional maintenance. For example, their air filters need regular cleaning and occasional replacing. Before each use, the entire unit, including the engine, fuel lines, and tank, will need to be examined for any leaks. At least once a week, the starter cord, vibration damping elements, and spark plugs will need to be looked over to ensure that there is not damage or wear and tear. Should metal burrs begin to develop along the bar, a metal file should be used to file them off.
Between uses, your pole saw should always be stored in a well-ventilated, dry location. Expect the chain oil to leak a little while the pole saw is not in use, so be wise when choosing a storage location. You’ll want to ensure that the pole saw is not placed next to items you want to keep clean. Finally, store your pole saw in a secure location. To prevent unauthorized use or damage, consider locking it up.
Pole Saw Reviews
1) Remington RM1025SPS Ranger Chainsaw/Pole Saw Combo
- Because the pole is detachable, this model can serve as both a chainsaw and a pole saw.
- It has a powerful 8 amp electric motor.
- This pole saw can cut branches as high as 15 feet overhead.
- Oil has a tendency to leak from the reservoir when the pole saw is being stored.
- It is not self-oiling.
For people who like to multitask, having a two in one tool is a worthwhile feature. The Remington RM1025SPS Ranger is specifically designed for range, comfort, and practicality. When fully extended, it can reach up to 15 feet overhead, and it is capable of comfortably cutting branches with a diameter of 9 inches. Another handy feature is its anti-slide mechanism, which ensures that the pole remains rigid.
The powerful, 8 amp electric motor provides more than enough power, and the 10-inch bar and chain make quick work of most pruning jobs. Another highlight is the fact that it is eco-friendly since it consumes less than 1,000 watts of power. Some consumers have experienced oil leaks from the reservoir after the unit has been in storage for a while, but these users are in the minority.
2) BLACK+DECKER LPP120 20V Lithium Ion Pole Saw
- The 8-inch chain and cutting bar allow users to cut down branches with a diameter of 6 inches or less.
- The battery charger for the 20V lithium ion battery is Energy Star certified.
- Extensions allow a maximum overhead reach of 14 feet.
- For a small percentage of users, the chain repeatedly fell off of the blade.
Weighing in at a mere 6.3 pounds, the Black + Decker LPP120 Pole saw is compact, lightweight, and easy to maneuver. Designed to be easy to use, this model features automatic lubrication. A 10-foot extension pole enables users to have a maximum 14 foot overhead reach, and the pole saw is powered by 20-volt lithium ion battery. Because this model is cordless, it can be taken anywhere on your property. According to Black + Decker, up to 100 cuts of 2 inches of wood can be made per battery charge.
Maintenance for this particular model is quite simple. When not in use, the battery connection needs to be removed, and the battery placed on the charger. Because it is self-lubricating, all that is required from you is to ensure that the lubrication tank is kept full. What buyers particularly enjoyed about this model was the fact that it is accompanied by a two-year warranty from the manufacturer. A few reviewers had issues with the chain repeatedly slipping off of the blade, but this occurred in less than 3% of reviewers (at the time of this writing).
3) Greenworks 20672 G-MAX 40V 8-Inch Cordless Pole Saw
- A simple to adjust chain tensioning system makes tightening the saw’s chain a quick process.
- This model is self-oiling, and the oil tank is translucent, which provides a clear view of what the oil levels are.
- The Greenworks 20672 only weighs 8.4 pounds, so it is easy to maneuver.
- Even when fully extended, this model only has a max overhead reach of 8 feet, which is less than that of similar models.
- The design of the tooth spacing is too coarse, which causes the chain to loosen.
- High price tag.
The Greenworks 20672 G-Max has received mixed to positive reviews from buyers. Although it offers some features, the general consensus is that the same features are available on other models – for less money.
The 20672 is powered by a 40 volt, lithium ion battery. It takes roughly an hour for the battery to charge itself, and according to the manufacturer, a single charge will provide you with up to 50 cuts of wood. By itself, the unit only weighs 8.4 pounds; however, when you add the extension pole and the battery, the total weight rises to 12.75 lbs. All in all, it is still lightweight and maneuverable. When the pole saw is fully extended, it has a maximum overhead reach of 8 feet.
With a bar chain length of 8 inches, this model is capable of cutting branches that are up to 6 inches in diameter. It is self-oiling, a feature that buyers appreciated, and because the oil tank is translucent, it is easy to know when you need to add more oil to the reservoir. Another highlight of the Greenworks 20672 is the fact that it is accompanied by a 4-year manufacturer’s warranty, which guards against defects in the workmanship and materials.
4) OREGON CORDLESS 40 Volt MAX PS250-A6 Pole Saw Kit
- The patented Instant Start system provides freedom from cords, mixing gas and oil, emissions, pull cords, and warmups.
- This model is self-oiling and comes with ready to use oil in the box.
- The MAX Ps250-A6 has a tool free extension that is made from fiberglass and provides a max overhead reach of 14 to 15 feet.
- The price tag is expensive.
- A handful of buyers have experienced issues with defective batteries.
On a national scale, Oregon Cordless is still relatively unknown; however, the quality and power behind their tools are quickly developing a cult following. Smart design and engineering are at the heart of this model’s design. The mid-mount motor offers exceptional balance and a reduced elevated weight. The 8-inch bar and removal hook, both of which are made from cast aluminum, provide improved cutting ability and an improved line of sight for cutting. The ergonomic design of this pole saw ensures that it is quiet, well-balanced, and lightweight.
The Oregon Cordless MAX PS250-A6 is powered by a 40 Volt MAX lithium ion battery. On a single charge, it can provide for up to 500 cuts of branches that are 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Premium cell technology ensures that the battery will not suddenly die.
The Oregon Cordless does have a high initial price tag, and if you choose to purchase additional batteries, the price can quickly climb; however, most reviewers agree that it is well-worth the cost. A very small percentage of buyers have experienced issues with defective batteries, but these have been covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
5) WORX WG309 Electric Pole Saw
- The 8-foot extension pole does not require tools to extend.
- The ergonomic design reduces the amount of strain placed on the shoulders and back while using.
- The chain oil reservoir is exceptionally tight and well-designed to prevent leaking.
- With the extender pole added, this pole saw’s total weight tops 15 pounds – making it one of the heaviest pole saws on the market.
- The chain routinely becomes loose and falls off.
Multifunctional and unique, the WORX WG309 Electric Pole Saw offers a patented, auto-tensioning system, which is designed to maximize the lifespan of the bar and chain. Its powerful motor boasts 8 amps and consistent performance. The automatic chain lubrication has an oil level indicator that tells you when it is time to add more oil to the reservoir, and the oil tank has a max capacity of 4 oz. This model is purposefully designed to be low-maintenance.
This pole saw has a 10-foot extension pole that does not require tools to install and eliminates the need to use a ladder while trimming trees. The extension rod does increase the unit’s overall weight, and a small number or reviewers have found that the added weight makes it difficult to maneuver. On the plus side, the rotatable working handle makes pruning easier than ever before.
As a quick search will show you, there are hundreds of different models of pole saws to choose from. It is important to do your research before buying one. At the same time, just imagine being able to trim the tallest trees in your yard with ease and without the use of a ladder.
Regardless of what your budget might be, it won’t be difficult to find exactly what you are looking for.