Pole Saw Cutting Techniques

Pole Saw Cutting Techniques

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One of the things people love about pole saws is that they are as simple and intuitive to use as any other saw, except that they extend your reach into a tree canopy. However, there are some special techniques that people should use when trimming their own trees with a pole saw.

Here are some of the most important techniques to help you get the most out of your pole saw, ensuring efficiency and safety.

Identify the Branch Collar

The branch collar is the structural support formed by a tree to hold the weight of a lateral branch and is part of a tree's natural defense system. When pruning a tree, it is important to protect the branch collar; damaging this structure can expose the trunk of the tree to disease, decay, or harmful insects.

While it may seem attractive to prune branches until they are flush with the tree trunk, instead, you need to trim in a way that leaves the collar intact. Study your species of tree and identify where the branch collar is, so you know where to place your cuts.

Using a pole saw

Preliminary Cuts

Preliminary cuts are a series of progressive cuts you make in a large branch to make it smaller and easier to manage.

 If a branch is large and heavy, or positioned in a way that branches may pose a hazard when they fall, then trim the branch with a series of preliminary cuts so you can better control the job. These preliminary cuts can be made anywhere that safely lightens the load, clears visual debris and makes the final cut easier.

Consider Combining Tools

Not all homeowners have both manual and automatic pole saws, but it's a great option to consider if you have to do a lot of tree trimming. For large branches, using a manual pole saw gives you great precision and control over your jump cuts and the groove you will make to cut the tree at the collar.

A pole chain saw, however, whether it's gas or electric powered, has speed and power that make preliminary cuts fast and easy, and can fit into your more precise, manual grooves and make quick work of finishing the job.

Professional arborists often combine manual and gas-powered tools in order to use the right tool for the job, and it's a great technique for the homeowner who has a large area to cover and a lot of ongoing tree trimming to do.

automatic pole saw

Relax Between Strokes

Using a pole saw is a physically strenuous task. The weight of the saw is levered away from you, and you are applying physical pressure on the downward pull, and then lifting the tool again up and away from you.

Over time, this repetitive motion can be taxing, and becoming tired can lead to a loss of precision and control of the tool, which can lead to reduced safety. However, pole saws are designed with a hook at the end that keeps the saw blade from slipping out of the groove, and that feature can help you improve your ergonomics.

Even if you just remember to take a quick breath and unlock your muscles in between strokes, rather than staying in a single, locked body position while you work, you can prevent repetitive strain, fatigue, and possibly even injury.


A pole saw is an excellent tool, widely used by professional arborists, with great results. Using these techniques will help you make the most of your pole saw and use it without damaging your trees or yourself.

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