Just about everyone who has worked with tree trimming or wood cutting knows that carrying a chainsaw up a ladder is hazardous business. A pole saw offers a safer solution – one that does not involve falling from a height while holding a running saw. With that said, there are many types of pole saw, and a pole saw is still a chain saw – it just happens to be on the end of a pole.
Tree trimming is one of the more difficult and hazardous parts of managing your lawn and landscaping plan. If you look closely at this illustration, you can see that this professional is wearing a hard hat, and he is using a safety line. Professional tree services also often make use of a bucket truck to access those hard-to-reach areas that need trimmed.
There is a wide range of products available on the market today, and below I have reviewed 5 of the very best options.
**Below, you will find more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon.
But what about those low-hanging limbs that keep catching your hair when you mow? Or that branch that broke in the last storm, and is just too high up to reach with just a chainsaw? Most home safety manuals simply do not recommend standing on a ladder with a chainsaw. Ladders can be unstable, and a regular chainsaw is a hazardous thing to have in your hand if you fall.
This is where a pole saw would be handy. No climbing with a running chainsaw, or trying to start one while standing on an unstable surface. While there are ways to use a ladder in tree trimming, it is generally not recommended.
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Factors to Consider When Purchasing a New Pole Saw
Using a Pole Saw to Cut Limbs
While using a pole saw to cut limbs is usually safer than hauling a chainsaw up a ladder or climbing the tree to reach a problem branch, there are still some safety concepts that you will want to keep in mind.
Use safety Gear
Wear a hard hat and eye protection — that can either be built-in eye protection that is part of the helmet or a separate set of safety goggles. Chain saws make a lot of sawdust – which can be very painful if you get it in your eyes. Wear work gloves that fit your hands. Work gloves can protect against splinters and blisters, but if they are loose and floppy they can present a safety hazard. Heavy boots are a good plan on any work site, but especially if you are working with saws or other power equipment.
Check your Saw
Before starting up your saw to make any cut, check the chain to make sure that it moves easily. Look at the oil for the bar and chain – letting that get low can cause damage to your saw.
Find a stable place to put your feet before you turn on the saw, and stand in a place that allows you to be out from under the limb. Get the chain running before you put it against the limb, then lower it down onto the place where you want to make the cut. (There are exceptions to this method, but let’s just stick to basics for now.) As the saw begins to bite into the limb, it will work its way downward. Be prepared for the weight from the saw as it finishes the cut – it will drop down a little bit.
Clean your Saw
After use, clean the saw as directed in your manufacturer’s directions and put it away in a place where it will not be subject to moisture and where it will be safe from pets and children. Grime and moisture can be two causes for your saw not lasting beyond one season.
Always remember that a pole saw, while safer than standing on a ladder with a chainsaw, is still a chainsaw on a pole. As with all power tools that are used for cutting or drilling, a pole saw needs to be treated with respect. Cutting tree limbs, which can be heavy, creates an added element requiring care during use.
With that said, a pole saw that is properly used can reduce what might have been days of labor to just a few hours.
Product Reviews – The Best Pole Saw
The Remington Maverick gas pole saw resembles a weed-eater – except that it has a chain saw blade on the business end of the pole. The other end – the one that the user will hold – has a 2-cycle gas motor, a sturdy handle and an adjuster for lengthening and shortening the pole. It is constructed much like a weed eater in this regard.
Placing the motor at the handle end of the saw puts main part of the weight of the machine near the user’s hands so that he or she isn’t trying to support a chainsaw on a stick which would be unwieldy and difficult.
The pole extends to seven feet for reaching limbs that are overhead, without use of a ladder. It can also reach into brushy areas to easily cut the base of tangled or thorny bush. Attachments are available to turn this machine into a hedge trimmer, an edger, a blower, and more.
If you are looking for a tool that is versatile, this just might be the one. Since it is gas powered, there are no batteries or electrical cord to manage. It has an automatic oiler so the chain is always well oiled.
- Gas powered means no trailing electrical cord or battery to recharge
- Automatic oiler
- Varity of attachments available
- Seven-foot pole obviates the need for a ladder in most cases
- Competitively priced
- Light weight for easy handling
- Does not come with a strap
- Need wrench and hex to change or manipulate chain
- Some units leak oil
- Not built for heavy use
The Remington electric chain saw/pole saw combo really is a chainsaw on a pole – an electric chainsaw, that is. Although it is relatively light, compared to a gas chainsaw, this means that you will have most of the weight of the machine at the end of the pole.
The Remington electric is reputed to have a light kickback, and to be easy to start and to use. However, it is a good idea to keep in mind that you will have a bit of weight to hold up in the air. The chainsaw part weighs about nine pounds.
Some users report that it needs some adjustment upon unpacking out of the box. The box, by the way, contains the pole, the saw and an instruction manual. Be sure to read the manual – it contains some vital information, such as to use motor oil, as chain and bar oil will be too thick. It is said to also recommend refilling the oiler after each major cut when working with large branches.
This item is a corded electric machine, so management of the cord will be essential. The saw, as one might expect from the name, does detach and can be used on the ground as a lightweight chainsaw.
- No smelly gasoline to mix
- Easy electric start
- Dual use, can be pole saw or small chain saw
- Uses ordinary motor oil – no special oil purchase needed
- Needs to be oiled and adjusted before use
- Needs to be oiled frequently
- A lot of weight on the end of a pole
- Less durable than some bigger saws
The Greenworks corded pole saw won’t be a lot of help in the woodlot, but it might be just what you need for that tree in the back yard. Although you will have a trailing cord, you won’t have to heft a gas-powered motor while directing a saw blade on the end of a pole.
It is set up for easy tension adjustment on the chain. With the electric motor, getting it started is a breeze. The automatic oiler makes sure the bar and chain are receiving the oil needed for smooth operation. The aluminum shaft can be adjusted out to eight feet long to reach those tall limbs or hard-to-reach bits in the center of shrub.
- Eight-foot pole
- Easy-adjust chain
- Quiet compared to a 2-stroke engine
- Head assembly is heavy at full extension.
- Does not come with oil
- Small oil tank, that gets used quickly
The TrimmerPlus has an 8-inch bar and chain on a seven-foot pole – which makes quite a lot of “reach”. The pole comes in two sections, which makes it easy to adjust for cutting situations.
It has an auto oiler to keep the bar and chain in good operating order. It can be connected to various attachments, including those made for Remington, Craftsman and Troy-Bilt.
The TrimmerPlus connects to attachment capable String-trimmers. It does not come with its own motor.
- Can be added to existing equipment
- Interchangeable with several brands
- Accommodates attachments
- Auto oiler
- Cut limbs and trees up to 16” in diameter
- Works with split-boom trimmers
- Motor must be purchased separately
- Does not work with Weed Eater
- Some users had problems with gears breaking
- Body is a resin plastic
- Arrives with chain and oil poorly adjusted
The Black & Decker Lithium Ion pole saw combines the ease of use of an electric saw with the convenience of being able to walk away from a power source. It uses a 20-volt MAX lithium ion battery, which are rated to last longer than NiCads.
The unit, when purchased new, comes with the saw, one battery, the battery charger, a blade guard, an oil bottle, a wrench and operating instructions. Shipping weight is 10.4 pounds for the whole unit – battery included.
With that said, it is still a chainsaw. It needs oil, the chain can come loose, and it needs to be treated with the same respect you would give any chainsaw.
Reports say that there can be some problems with adjusting the chain. The oil bottle that is included doesn’t work very well – a syringe works better.
However, with all of that said, it is regarded as a machine that can be used by a petite person.
- Lightweight, easy to use
- Electric, easy to start
- Battery operated – no trailing cords
- Rated for 100 cuts on 1” branches per charge
- 1 Battery and Charge included
- Not suggested for frequent/heavy use
- Some chain adjustment problems
- Oil container not efficient
- Needs manual oiling between limbs/cuts
Choosing the Best Pole Saw for Trimming Trees and Cutting Undergrowth
My pick of these is the Black & Decker Lithium Ion pole saw – and not just because I like this brand, although that does come in there. The reported problems with the chain and with the oil are common to chainsaws. I like the electric saws because, as a petite woman, I have a hard time starting the gasoline models. Trailing an electric cord, however, is an invitation to getting the cord tangled up, unplugged or cutting through it at a crucial moment. Furthermore, even for a guy who is used to working with a chainsaw, a saw on the end of a pole can be unwieldy. It is less dangerous than using a chainsaw while standing on a ladder, but that is still a lot of cutting power on a pole.
But that doesn’t speak to the saw itself – other than being lightweight, which is certainly a consideration. The saw has a good reputation as being easy to use and maintain, and doing good work on basic home trimming.
My second pick would the Greenworks electric – for a lot of the same reasons. But it does have that trailing electrical pigtail that can get one in trouble. Batteries can add some weight, and they do run down – but a good solution is to start your job with one or two fully charged spares.