How To Use A Pole Saw

Do you have some trees and hedges on your property that you want to prune?

Considering using a pole saw? Before you do there are some risk factors you need to consider as well as learning the proper technique for using such a tool.

how to use a pole saw

In this guide, we look at the necessary cautions a person must be aware of before operating a pole saw, general instructions, and also offer our top tips to ensure you can use your pole saw effortlessly every time. 


Before you consider using a pole saw to prune wood that you cannot reach from the ground it is that you consider any possible safety risks.

When professional arborists are cutting trees and need to drop a large piece of wood they use a rope pulley system to enable a slow descent to the ground. 

When cutting branches with pruners or a pole saw you will not be able to do this and so the wood will drop to the ground uncontrolled which can be a safety risk.

Heavy or high falling wood can hurt or damage people and property and in some cases can even result in death. 

Other risks you should be aware of before using a pole saw are:

  • Pole saws, especially pole saws that can reach up to 8 feet, can be very tiresome to operate as they are very heavy. If you have a bad back you should avoid using this tool
  • You should never use a pole saw near power lines as it is easy to lose your grip and this could result in disaster. Never attempt to prune any branch that is near or has any part above a power line
  • Don’t attempt to cut branches overhead using unfamiliar techniques, take the time to learn proper techniques that can help to reduce the weight of a branch before making a final cut 
  • Pole saws are only suited for use when pruning branches that are a couple of inches thick. The thicker the wood or branch is, the more dangerous it can be and also the more laborious the cut will be

How To Use A Pole Saw 

This is our seven-step guide on how to effectively and safely use a pole saw. 

1. Clear Your Work Area

The first thing you will need to do is to clear a large space under the branch you are hoping to cut. Make sure there are no obstructions, people, or property under the branch or the surrounding space where it may fall.

Also, remove any possible trip hazards as you will need to move quickly should something go wrong. 

2. Plan Before You Prune 

Always plan before your prune. This will ensure that you know what and where you are cutting as well as prevent any possible mistakes. If you can, cuts should be made horizontally or almost horizontally to the branch.

3. Position The Pole Saw

Now that you know where you need to cut you will next position the pole saw in place. Use both your hands to hold the tool and place it in a vertical position and wait until you find a grip that enables you to control the saw’s weight.

Next, position the saw at the cutting spot and rest the weight of the saw on the branch. 

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4. Position Yourself 

Make sure you are standing in a place where you can hold the grip of the pole saw at chest level while standing to the side of the branch, not below it.

Your angle will always be at an angle when you are cutting. Adjust the pole if you cannot reach the cutting position and repeat steps 3 and 4.

5. Cut A Groove

The first strokes will be based around creating a groove. To do so the strokes will be slow and controlled and you should be cutting at a perpendicular angle to the branch.

The groove will act as a guide for your faster strokes later. If the saw slips, regain control and begin to attempt to create a groove again.

6. Finish The Cut

As soon as the pole saw is securely placed in the groove you can begin to increase the speed of your strokes. The pole saw cuts on the pull stroke which is helped by gravity. 

Always keep a close eye on the branch and be aware of when it is close to falling.

7. Clean Up

Like every great workman, you will need to clean up after you have finished your task. If you are cutting several branches you will repeat steps 1 to 7 for each branch.

Top Tips For Using A Pole Saw 

Below are our top tips for using a pole saw.

  • For most cuts, you should place the blade to start at the top side of a branch
  • If you are making a jump cut the blade will cut from under the branch, this is more laborious as you are working against gravity rather than using gravity to your advantage
  • If you are cutting vertical water sprouts from the ground we recommend using a different tool as they are virtually impossible to cut with a pole saw
  • Always consider whether a job is suitable for a pole saw and that it is safe for you to do rather than a professional
  • You will only ever need to do pruning that requires a ladder when you have a large tree on your property, in most other cases you will only ever be required to prune what you can reach from ground level

Read Now: Best Pole Saws Reviews

Final Thoughts

We hope that this piece has been helpful and that you now understand how to confidently handle a pole saw as well as being aware of possible dangers and safety risks that operating a pole saw can pose.

If you believe that a branch could be too thick or you doubt your abilities to prune a certain tree or bush then you should contact a professional arborist to complete the job to avoid any accidents that could have serious results. 

About the Author David Vieria

David has been a woodworker for most of his life — in his dad’s cabinet shop. After using the tools himself, he decided to share it his woodworking and power tools knowledge with DIYers. Read more about him

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