How to Use a Pole Saw: A Beginner’s Exhaustive Guide

Are you planning on cutting high tree branches or thick vines? If so, then a pole saw is the best choice for jobs relating to pruning, trimming and styling trees and limbs that are hard to reach from the ground.

Even though a pole saw is an excellent tool for versatile use, beginners may find it a little intimidating to use and control, but that’s not to mean it’s hard to master the operating principle of this tool.

In this guide, we’re going to learn how to use a pole saw safely and effectively for pruning trees that are as high as 14 feet from the floor. By the time you’re done reading this guide, you should be able to use your manual pole saw smoothly and without hitches.

Now, let’s cut to the chase, and dive right into the basics of how to use a pole chain saw (manual option).

The Basics of Using a Manual Pole Chain Saw: A Step-by-Step Guide

  • De-clutter the work area depending on tree size

Before you start using your pole saw, clear tree branches or limbs off your working surface to prevent trip hazards. Fallen branches or vines may appear to be harmless, but they can lead to fatal accidents if you ain’t careful.

Also, remove any property that could get damaged and cordon off your work area or rather keep people from coming near the area. To be able to work freely and conveniently, it’s best to rope off 50 feet radius around the work area to restrict others from getting too close, keeping any danger at bay.

  • Examine where you’ll make your cuts

You need to first think through the process before putting your pole saw to the wood. Take a step back, and examine where exactly the tree branches are positioned. Some branches may be situated in some fragile places where there’s a fence, hut, or power sources.

Consider all of the braches you need to cut off when planning how to execute the work. And as you ponder about how to carry out the job, get to know that removing a single branch may need lots of preliminary or jump cuts to minimize the weight before you make the final cut. If possible, try making cuts at horizontal surfaces of the vine or branch.

  • Remove the lower branches to create a passage for higher ones

It’d be best if you took a few moments and figure out how you’re gonna get access to the highest branches that you need to cut. More often than not, lower limbs must be get rid of first to let you reach the top branch or to create a passage for higher branches.  

By cutting off the lower limbs, you get a clear path that allows you to make a safe and smooth cut in the higher branches. So, cut the lower branches as you work your way up the top of the tee.

  • Take a safe and stable position

You need to position yourself correctly before using a pole saw to cut high branches or vines. To reduce your odds of injury in the event the wood falls off the tree, stand off to the side of the limb, angling yourself out of the path of any falling braches and debris.

Furthermore, ensure the pole chain saw is resting on the right spot, and its end is just at your chest level. Your pole saw needs to be at an angle as you make the cut, never directly up or down. If your pole saw is adjustable, adjust it to the correct length.

  • Extend the pole saw length

Once you’re in a safe position and your tool is in the correct spot, adjust your pole saw length if you can do so. This is a good practice to do before you start cutting.

Often, your tool’s owner’s manual provides an explanation on how you can adjust the length of the saw. Holding your saw at chest-height level, stretch out the pole so that the saw’s blade can access the lowest branch.

  • Move the pole saw blade to the branch to be cut

Hold the saw in a natural way using both hands, and then gently bring it to a vertical position against the branch you wish to cut. Pause there for a moment and check if you’ve got absolute control over the weight of the saw.

In the meantime, grab the trigger with your right hand, and support the saw’s body with your left hand. After positioning the saw to the cutting spot, ensure its weight is resting on the branch, except when making a jump cut. Set your saw correctly and get to feel comfortable and in control, never start cutting yet.

  • Start cutting by creating a groove in the branch

Now, it’s time to start cutting with a starting groove. You need to go slow and in control as you cut perpendicular to the limb. If you cut the branch at full speed right off the gate, your blade may slip sideways making it difficult to complete the cut.

It’s best to start by creating a groove in the wood to allow your first strokes to bite as much as possible. These early strokes will guide you later as you make faster strokes. To properly create the initial groove in the wood, you need to cut very slowly at first as you tap the throttle with your finger or press it in lightly.

In the event you’re cutting a sloped branch, you can expect your saw to slip to the side. If this happens, stop cutting and take a momentary rest. Then, reposition the saw’s blade before you proceed to cut.

  • Move forward and finish your cut

At this point, you’re expected to have created a groove and your saw is securely positioned in the groove. You can move forward and increase the speed of your stroke. Make sure to keep your eye on the branch as your cuts bite deeper.


The reason is that pole saws – just like regular pruning saws – cut on the pull stroke using the power of gravity. For this reason, you’ve got to watch out for the branch since it can fall in unpredictable ways causing an injury. Once the branch is on the brink of falling, get ready to retreat or move out of the way (if necessary) to avoid injuries.

  • Clear up your work area before beginning the next cut

After the limb has fallen to the ground, get ready to move it out of your work area to pave way for your next cut. If left unattended, fallen branches or limbs can trip you up as you position yourself to cut other branches and limbs.

So, if you’re going to make another cut, make sure to clear up your work area. As you prepare for the next cut, remember to begin by removing all of the lower branches before proceeding on to the ones that are higher up. Follow all the nine steps above to use a pole saw to cut other limbs and braches that are higher up.

Quick Pole Saw Safety Tips

The following guidelines will help you operate your pole saw in a safe and effective manner:

  • Visibility is important while operating this machine. Use it in daylight only.
  • Put on the right protective gear before operating a pole saw. These include snug-fitting clothes, boots, gloves, eye protection, a helmet or a hard hat.
  • Oil your pole chain saw correctly before use.
  • Avoid using a pole saw during rainy or wet conditions.
  • Cut one branch or limb at a time. Do not cut multiple branches in the same pass.
  • Clear up the work area before moving on to the next branch.
  • Take regular breaks after cutting sessions.

Closing Remarks

As you’ve learned from this guide, using a pole saw is not complicated if you’re already accustomed to the tricks of the trade. This step-by-step guide on how to use a pole chain saw gives you all the directions and tips to keep in mind when operating this tool.

To summarize everything: be sure to de-clutter your work area, stand in a comfortable position with your pole saw resting on the right spot, and always exercise caution. Those are the three most important things to remember when using a manual pole saw.

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