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There’s nothing more frustrating when pruning than being unable to reach overhead tree branches. Whether they’re ominously overhanging your home, casting shade over your yard, or just starting to look overgrown and unsightly, there are plenty of reasons why you might wish to remove high branches and shrubbery. But how do you reach them?
Before you get out the ladder and start wielding a chainsaw from dangerous heights or re-mortgage your home to pay for a landscape gardener, try using a pole saw. This handy tool consists of a manual or powered saw on the end of an extendable pole, which can increase your reach to up to 15 feet – with two feet still planted firmly on the ground. Read on for our list of the best pole saws on the market, and you’ll have those trees looking trim in no time.
The Best Pole Saw
Topping our list of the best pole saws is this 40V Cordless Pole Saw by Greenworks. This battery-powered pole saw comes with a 3-piece aluminum shaft that’s easy to assemble into a 9ft long tool. Depending on your height, this will allow you to prune tree limbs up to 15ft high, using the 8” bar and chain. There’s also an automatic oiler so the chain will remain lubricated without manual maintenance (you just need to top it up if it’s running low).
Made from high quality steel, this cordless pole saw is well balanced and easy to use. The handle is weighted to help with muscle fatigue, and the cushioned grip offers additional comfort – although the position of the safety catch might make your thumb sore over time. It can be purchased with or without a battery, and users report that the battery life is reasonable, with many saying they tired long before the power ran low (you’ll probably get just over an hour of continuous use). The ease of operation and the instant start/stop feature are also highly praised by reviewers.
40V cordless pole saw
8” bar and chain
3-piece aluminum shaft
9ft total length
- Weight11.15 pounds
Easy to assemble and use
Starts and stops instantly
Automatic oiler for continuous lubrication
Safety catch is uncomfortable to use long-term
Battery is difficult to remove
Coming in at a close second, this LPP120B 20V Lithium Ion Pole Pruning Saw by Black + Decker is another fantastic choice to tackle those hard-to-reach branches. Its cordless design is powered by the Max 20V lithium-ion battery system, which is compatible with a range of other Black + Decker tools. The pole extends to 6-½ or 10ft, offering a maximum reach of approx. 14ft, and the 8” bar and chain can easily cut through branches up to 6” in diameter.
One of the best features of this Black and Decker pole saw is the battery life. It has 5x the charge retention of NiCad batteries, and should give you plenty of time to prune those difficult overhead limbs (battery not included). Users praise the lightweight, easy to use and portable design. Criticisms include the lack of on-board oil reservoir, which means regular manual oiling is required, and the fact that the chain loosens with use. If you don’t mind a bit of maintenance though, the general consensus is this cordless pole saw is excellent value for money.
Cordless pole saw powered by the 20V MAX lithium-ion battery system
8” bar and chain
Useable length of 6-½ or 10ft
2-year limited warranty
- Weight8.85 pounds
Cut up to 100 1-½” pine branches per charge
Lightweight and easy to transport
5x better charge retention compared to NiCad batteries
14ft reach including user’s height
No in-built oiler, have to oil manually
Chain needs regular tightening
The first corded electric pole saw on the list is this Remington RM1025SPS Ranger 8-Amp 2-in-1 Pole Saw. Made from durable aluminum, this instant-start motor powers a 10” bar and chain which makes light work of overhanging branches. The pole saw has 2-in-1 functionality, with a ‘flip and lock’ clamp system which allows you to easily detach the pole and switch from pole saw to chainsaw.
The pole extends to 10ft, which provides considerable reach when combined with the user’s height – although some reviews comment that the pole cannot be disassembled once you’ve put it together, which may prove inconvenient for storage or transportation. The manufacturer also warns that some oil may leak from the bar and chain when not in use – but at least it does have an in-built oiling system.
8A electric pole saw
10” bar and chain
Extends to 10ft
Durable aluminum construction
2-in-1 functionality: pole saw and chainsaw
Quick and easy to adjust length
Anti-rotation pole and non-slip grip
On-board oil reservoir
Bar and chain oil may leak when not in use
Pole cannot be dismantled once assembled
This Sun Joe Pole Saw SWJ800E is another electric pole saw that will take the difficulty out of trimming your trees. The pole extends to 8.7ft, slightly shorter than the previous saws, but the 8” bar and chain can slice through branches of up to 7.5” in diameter. It’s lightweight, easy to use and fully adjustable, so you won’t have to struggle to get those hard-to-reach branches.
The pole saw features automatic oil lubrication, and easy chain tensioning – just turn the screw. It also comes with a built-in safety switch to prevent accidental starting (although at least one user mentions that this takes some getting used to) and there’s a 2-year full warranty from the manufacturer if anything goes wrong. People praise the sturdy construction, fast cutting speed and ease of operation.
6.4A electric pole saw
Pole extends to 8.7ft
Cut branches up to 7.5” in diameter
8” bar and chain
- BrandSun Joe
- Weight7 pounds
Automatic oil lubrication
Built-in safety switch
Lightweight and easy to use
Trigger lock can be difficult to use
The first gas powered pole saw on our list is this TPP720 model by TrimmerPlus. It’s compatible with a wide range of power units by major brands, including Remington, Troy-Bilt, Craftsman, Yardman, Greenworks and many more (check before purchasing to see whether it will work with your system). Providing you can power it, this gas pole saw is a solid choice. The 8-inch bar and chain will cut through logs of up to 4-inches in diameter, and the 7ft extension pole offers a useable length of approx. 11ft, depending on user height.
There’s also a built-in automatic oiler, so you don’t need to worry about manual maintenance – although, at least one user mentions that the included oil is too viscous, so you may need to replace it with another synthetic motor oil. Other reviews state that the pole saw was not set up correctly out of the box, and needed both the chain and the oiler adjusting. If you don’t mind making these recommended adjustments though, this gas pole saw has a lot of positives, with many users agreeing it’s lightweight, easy to operate and stands the test of time.
Gas powered pole saw compatible with a range of units by major brands
8” bar and chain
Cut logs of up to 4”
- BrandTrimmer Plus
- Weight7.1 pounds
Light and easy to use
Chain stays on track
Chain and oiler likely to need adjusting before use
This 179-39 Telescopic Landscaping Pole Saw by SILKY is a different type of pole saw to the previous models – it’s powered by hand, rather than electric or gas. It consists of a 1.5mm thick carbon steel blade at the end of an aluminum pole, which extends from 8ft to an impressive 21ft. This incredibly long reach makes it suitable for pruning tall trees such as palms, and felling high-up tree limbs that are threatening the upper stories of your home.
You can use this pole pruner to cut through branches of up to 7.7”. As its hand-powered, it will take a more effort to do this than other pole saws, but manual operation does have its advantages – it’s free to run, completely mobile, and it’ll last as long as you do! Many people praise the lightweight design, sharp blade, and how easy the tool is to maneuver, even when fully extended.
Manual telescopic pole saw
Extends from 8ft to 21ft
Made from aluminum with steel blade
Cut branches up to 7.7”
- Weight7.23 pounds
Impressive reach of 26ft
Can be used to trim tall trees
Light and strong
Requires more user effort to operate
Another fantastic pole saw from Greenworks is this 20192 8.5’ 6.5A Corded Pole Saw. This electric pole saw has a powerful motor and an 8” bar and chain which is said by one user to cut branches like ‘a hot knife through butter’. The aluminum pole extends to 8ft, and is easy to assemble and disassemble. It also comes with a carry bag, for storage and portability.
Other features of this pole chain saw include tool-free chain tensioning and an automatic oiler – although some reviewers have had issues with the saw using too much oil, or leaking when not in use. The 4-year warranty offers long-term peace of mind though if anything does go wrong.
Corded electric pole saw
8” bar and chain
Aluminum pole extends to 8ft
4-year limited warranty
- Weight10.47 pounds
Tool-less chain tensioning
Easy to assemble
Includes carry case
Uses a lot of oil
May leak oil
Users praise the power of this Maxtra Gas Extendable Pole Saw. Powered by a 2-stroke 42.7cc engine, the pole extends up to 11.4ft, and the chainsaw makes light work of tree branches up to 8” in diameter. It has a large fuel tank, meaning a long working time, and there’s no cord to trip over.
This type of pole saw tends to be heavier than electric models, but Maxtra have accounted for that with some additional features such as a non-slip hand bar and a shoulder strap, designed to reduce user fatigue. The only recurring complaint seems to be the instruction manual, which does not provide adequate assembly instructions, fuel information or a parts list.
Gas-powered pole saw
2-stroke 42.7cc engine
Trim branches up to 8”
- Brand Maxtra
- Weight27.5 pounds
Anti-slip hand bar
Shoulder strap to reduce fatigue
Includes carry bag
Excellent customer service
Poor manual and assembly instructions
The final entry on our list of the best pole saws is this 18V Cordless Electric Pole Saw by Ryobi One+. It’s a battery-powered model (battery and charger not included) and it’s compatible with all other tools and batteries in the Ryobi One+ collection. It features a chainsaw with an 8” bar and chain, and a 9.5ft extension pole, and the head is angled, which makes it easier to cut overhead branches.
It also has an automatic oiling system, although as with some of the other models on this list, reviews indicate that it burns a lot of oil, so keep an eye on this. Other than that, this cordless Ryobi pole saw is reported to be lightweight, well-balanced and an effective way to trim high-up limbs.
Cordless battery-powered pole saw
8” bar and chain
Battery and charger not included
- Weight7.4 pounds
Compatible with all Ryobi One+ tools
Uses a lot of oil
Best Pole Saw Buying Guide & FAQ
Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of pole saws on the market? Not sure which tree trimmer is right for you? Allow our buying guide and FAQs to help clear up that confusion.
Features to Look for in a Pole Saw
- Reach length
Make sure that your chosen pole saw is long enough to reach the branches you want to prune. Take into account your own height and reach, and the fact that you want to be able to reach comfortably, without over-stretching and losing your balance.
- Branch diameter
Each pole saw comes with a recommended maximum diameter of branch it can cut, depending on the size of the bar and chain. Again, make sure this aligns with the size of branches or logs you want to prune with it.
Consider how the pole saw is powered. If it’s by battery, how long does each recharge last? Will it be enough time for you to complete your task? If its electric, do you have a suitable power source? Will you be restricted by the cord? If it’s gas-powered, are you prepared for the tool to be heavier?
Check for features that make the pole saw easy to use. For example, does the pole saw have an on-board oil reservoir, or do you need to oil it manually? Does the chain have to be tightened regularly? Make sure you feel confident that you can perform the necessary adjustments/maintenance to keep your pole saw functioning properly.
Why You Should Use a Pole Pruner
- Easily trim high-up branches
A pole saw will take the stress and strain out of pruning - no more pulling muscles or getting scratched up by shrubbery whilst trying to reach overhead branches.
- Safer than using a ladder
Pole saws are a much safer alternative to using a ladder. Ladders can be dangerous if not used correctly, or positioned on uneven ground. If not completely stable, it’s easy to imagine how using a chain saw from the top of one could lead to injury.
- Cheaper than paying a contractor
A pole saw is an investment in yard maintenance, and can save you hundreds of dollars in paying a contractor to come out and do the job for you.
- Prepare for extreme weather
Freak weather events such as strong winds, storms and hurricanes can bring down trees and blow debris into your yard or onto your home. In these situations, a pole saw can be a handy tool to have, to help clear it.
Different Types of Pole Saws
A manual or hand-operated pole saw generally consists of a hacksaw-like blade at the end of a long pole. It is operated by the user making swift strokes to cut through a branch. Some manual pole pruners also feature a rope pulley system to control the blade.
A battery-powered pole saw is a cordless, chainsaw-like saw on the end of a pole, powered by a rechargeable battery pack. Battery life is limited, although you’ll usually get an hour of continuous use.
- Corded electric
An electric pole saw is very similar to a battery-powered pole saw, but it has a cord, which plugs directly into an electricity source. The cutting time is unlimited, although the cord means it is less mobile.
A gas pole saw also has a chainsaw end but this is powered by a gas engine (usually one that is compatible with other tools). They are highly mobile, have a long cutting time and generally provide the most power.
Best Pole Saw Buying FAQ:
Q: What is a pole saw and how does it work?
A: A pole saw is a saw attached to a pole, that is most commonly used to prune hard-to-reach shrubs or branches on trees. The saw is usually either a hacksaw-like blade which is hand-operated, allowing the user to manually saw through a higher branch, or a chainsaw-like blade that is powered by battery, electric or gas. This type of pole saw works like a normal chainsaw; the serrated edge is propelled around the bar on a chain, cutting through the branches in its way.
Q: How do I use a pole saw for tree pruning?
A: To use a pole saw for tree pruning, first clear the area below, and conduct your preliminary and jump cuts (see safety tips above). Then, lift your pole saw and position it on the top of the branch in the spot where you want to make your final cut. Stand to the side of the limb, so it will not fall on you. If using a hand-operated pole saw, start to saw perpendicular to the branch to create a groove. Once the groove is defined, you will be able to increase the speed of your strokes. If using a powered pole saw, you will not need the sawing motion – simply guide the chainsaw smoothly down through the limb. Make sure to stand clear of the branch as it falls.
Q: Can pole pruner blades be sharpened?
A: Yes, you can sharpen pole pruner blades by hand, using a metal file. First, disconnect the pole saw from the power source (if applicable) and clean the blades with a wire brush to remove debris. Then, secure the blades with a vice, to ensure they don’t move whilst you sharpen them. Place the file between each of the metal teeth (it should fit perfectly in the curve of the blade), and move it repeatedly in one direction until the blades are sharp. Use a file with a guide to make things easier, and make sure to sharpen both sides of the blades.
Q: What length do the pole saws extend to?
A: The exact length a pole saw extends to will depend on the make and model you purchase. As a general rule, most powered pole saws reach a length of between 6 to 10ft, giving you a total reach of 11 – 15ft, depending on your height and arm length. Manual pole saws can be much longer, reaching lengths of over 20ft.
Our Top Pick
We’ve included ten of the very best pole saws on this list, but our favorite has to be the Greenworks 40V Cordless Pole Saw. Being battery-operated means there’s no cord to get in the way of your trimming, and the 9ft long pole offers one of the longest reaches of a powered pole saw. The built-in automatic oiler makes it easy to maintain, and there are lots of reviews praising its ease of use and instant stop/start safety feature – and when you’re wielding a chainsaw from the end of a long pole, safety is of the utmost importance!