What is a Pole Saw

Simply, a pole saw is a saw on the end of a pole. Either powered or not for Tree trimming. 

If powered it will probably take the form of a small powered saw (chainsaw) on a pole. Power source can be Gas (Petrol) engine, battery or mains electric. A non-powered pole saw has a pruning saw attached to the end of a pole, thus being a manual action pole saw.

Some confusion is created by a few manufacturers, Stihl being one, referring to pole saws as pole pruners. In the main, pole pruners are considered to be ‘loppers’ at the end of a pole.

Honestly, it’s not as daft as it sounds.

Some time back and probably first contrived by an individual, I mean some bright spark, that was trying to prune branches higher than head height realised – Attach a small saw on the end of a pole and I do not need to keep running up and down a ladder to reach – A strong case for necessity (the necessity in this case, less hard work) being the mother of invention. And whilst this notion of a chain saw on the end of a pole may seem odd at first, it has proven to be a very handy addition to the professional landscaper or home gardener tool box.

So, what’s a pole saw for?

Tree Trimming – The pruning of trees and large shrubs.  A Pole Saw will give you the reach to remove those branches that would normally require you to use a step ladder, in fact a pole saw not only helps do away with the continual up and downing but can also be used very effectively to reach across an object, like a hedge for instance. It’s all much less effort with a pole saw, especially a powered pole saw. So, if your garden or your work area has any trees in it, the pole saw will most certainly help you out. No more continually repositioning your ladder, the job will become far easier.

Spoilt for pole saw choice.

When it comes to choosing your powered pole saw the first question to ask yourself is – Which kind of powered pole saw will best meet my requirements. Price and size will probably be top of the list along with power type. Just like hand saws, pole saws are available in very many different designs and types, saw blade length, pole length, power type and power size. The length of the bar (the steel plate the chain spins around) is a rough guide to the size of branches it can cut. Some pole saw machines can be used for sawing at ground level. The chainsaw can simply be detached from the pole.

What are your pole saw requirements?

Small spindly twigs and general light pruning, although above head height could probably be done with a simple non powered pole saw or pole pruners (loppers at the end of a pole) and would not require a powered pole saw. If your area is fairly large and does have some largish trees then a suitably powered pole saw will most likely be required – Petrol (Gas) powered or electric. 

Choosing your Pole Saw

Your powered pole saw considerations.

  • The power source will determine whether or not there is enough power to cut through your tree branches.
  • The cutting blade will need to be of sufficient length.
  • What length is the pole? Watch out for this:- Some manufacturers are giving a pole reach length and normally include an average person height. The pole can actually be a fair bit shorter than the given reach length.
  • Weight is another important consideration. Most electric powered pole saws are under 10/12 pounds (approx 5 kilos) and often very much lighter than the petrol/gas models. Don’t forget – They can over extended periods of use prove very tiring to work with.
  • Another consideration, petrol powered machines often require more maintenance.
  • Some models come with detachable heads, meaning, you can use the cutting saw free of the pole in a traditional chainsaw manner.

Pole Reach

The poles come in various lengths and can be made from fibreglass or steel. Sometimes a single length but also available extending (adjustable, telescopic) The length of the pole is important to you. The longer the pole can sometimes make usage more cumbersome and will equate to a higher price. There is no point in having a pole length of 15″ if the tallest branch you will be cutting does not exceed 10″. Having an extending pole not only makes storage and transporting easier it can also be a blessing when working on trees of varying heights, you are able to extend when working on higher branches. Don’t forget, some manufacturers will state pole reach and not pole length. This leads to confusion and can be misleading as the pole reach can include the users height. 

Bar Length

Bar length is measured mostly in inches (sometimes centimetres) and refers to the length of the bar. 8″ being the more regular size but other sizes are available 6″ – 10″ – 12″ The longer bars enables larger (thicker) branches to be cut. Always choose a bar length that is greater than the thickest branches to be cut. The longer the bar length means the greater the power needed to drive the chain, the cordless versions having the shorter bars. The Gas (petrol) versions being most powerful normally have the longer bars. 

Battery Cordless Pole Saw

Battery cordless pole saws are great for the smaller gardens with few trees with large branches that need pruning. Considered the least powerful of all pole saws. You will not have the inconvenience of running power cables around the garden or work space or making sure you always have gas available. They run on rechargeable batteries and are the least noisy. A single charge should last for about an hour of cutting. They normally have a shorter cutting bar length, around 8″ max. The batteries are either Ni-Cad or Lithium-Ion, the latter offers better performance, have a longer life and more importantly the performance will not degrade as the battery discharges with use. Battery technology is changing and improving all the time and you should look out for any new developments in this area. Other than the requisite chain sharpening there is little maintenance needed with battery powered pole saws. Fully portable. Shorter bar lengths – 6″ 8″ are best.

Electric Corded Pole Saw 

Electric corded pole saws are considered easy to use because all you need to do is plug them in and away you go, you can start trimming your trees. Portable with limitation (cable length). More powerful than the cordless version with cutting blades going up to about 10″. Also as with its cordless cousin the required maintenance is minimal. Electric corded pole saws are generally lighter than the cordless versions as there is no battery. Common sense will tell you that usage would be restricted in wet weather. Bar length no greater than 10″ is best.

Gas (Petrol) Pole Saw

Gas petrol powered pole saws are more powerful than either of the electric versions. With this increased power comes many advantages, increased cutting bar length and better cutting capabilities all round. Noisier but not necessarily heavier than the electric types they are considered a better option especially if you have larger areas to maintain with more trees. They are often built to a higher specification and this means they will probably last longer. Fully portable. Typically preferred by the professionals. Bar length any size up to 12″.

Manual Action Pole Saw

As the name suggests a simple long reach manual saw. Easy to use. Very light weight. Cutting blades can be much longer than the powered versions. No maintenance needed except for a little cleaning and re sharpening. Can cut fairly large branches. Fully portable. Probably a better choice for the home gardener. A great alternative if you don’t mind a little more work. Don’t forget, if you are reaching across something, in order to cut you will be moving your arms backwards and forwards…a lot.
For an extensive Pole Saw selection

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