How to Use a Manual Pole Saw

How to Use a Manual Pole Saw?

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Part of maintaining a healthy garden and landscape means taking care of your trees. Healthy trees look attractive, add value to your home, and can even improve energy efficiency.  However, un-trimmed and unhealthy trees can be unsightly and potentially hazardous. Pole saws are an excellent way to extend your reach, so that you can trim and prune branches and twigs you couldn't normally access with conventional tools.

There are different kinds of manual pole saws with different features to help with different garden chores, and each has slightly different features, capabilities, and different ways they can be used.

kinds of manual pole saws

How to Use a Traditional Manual Pole Saw?

Also called a “pole pruner,” this kind of pole saw is simply a sharp saw blade at the end of a pole. These usually have curved blades, 12 to 16 inches long. In many models, the pole is telescoping, or can be extended with additional pieces. Here's how to use it:

  1. Place the curved edge of the blade on the top of the branch you want to trim. These blades cut as you pull them toward you, so it's an intuitive gesture.
  2. Working slowly and carefully, pull the blade toward you a few times to make a groove in the branch.
  3. Once you have a groove and the blade will not slip sideways, you can speed up and cut through the branch. Try to cut cleanly without splitting or tearing at the end, and make sure that the freed branch can fall safely.

When using a traditional manual pole saw, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The longer the pole is, the less control you will have over the cutting end. Ensure that you have stable footing and excellent visibility on the surface you will be cutting.
  • Because they are manually operated, it can be physically strenuous to cut through a large branch with this type of pole pruner. Work carefully and take breaks if needed.
  • Because these types of pole saws are designed to cut downward from the top of a branch, it is difficult or impossible to remove vertical growth, like water sprouts.
  • Remember to make jump cuts for larger branches by rotating the blade to beneath the branch and working from below to create a groove. This will prevent the bark from tearing and injuring the tree.
How to Use a Traditional Manual Pole Saw

How to Use a Pulley-System Manual Pole Saw?

These kinds of manual pole saws usually combine a set of pruning shears with a saw blade, so that you can clip off smaller twigs and branches and saw off larger ones. They use a pulley system so that you can operate the shears from several feet away, at the end of the pole.

These kinds of pole pruners often have different types of pulley systems, or even double pulley systems, to transmit more force from your hand to the shears and enable you to lop off even larger branches. Here is how to use one:

  1. For the sawblade portion of the tool, simply follow the directions above to saw off larger branches.
  2. To lop off smaller branches and twigs, place the “hook” portion of the tool over the branch at the precise place you intend to cut.
  3. Pull the rope smoothly and evenly, and the blade will lever closed and cut off the branch.
  4. Release the rope to open the tool and move on to another branch.

Here are some things to keep in mind when using a pulley-system pole pruner:

  • Pulling on the rope can easily tire your arms and damage the skin on your hands. It's best to wear thick garden gloves.
  • Do not attempt to lop larger branches than are recommended for your tool. When loppers are used on branches that are too large, they can mangle the bark without cutting cleanly, or even bind in the branch. Because these tools are on a pole, it's more difficult to control or extract a bound tool, so don't exceed the recommended branch diameter.


Manual pole saws can be a great way to manage routine tree trimming and maintenance safely and take care of the health of your trees. They can save money by making it easy to do garden tasks yourself, instead of calling a professional.

But remember to always work safely, by ensuring that you have safe and stable footing, making sure that fallen branches and debris can safely fall to the ground, wearing protective gear, and avoiding power lines.

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