Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Pole Saw

My previous post generated a question concerning how I managed to remove the top limbs from a leaning tree that was obviously too high above the ground to be easily reached. In answer to that question, I’m introducing a valuable land management tool known as the pole saw. This is basically a pruning saw mounted to the end of a long pole. The top section with the saw mount is 6 feet long. Pole length can be increased through the addition of individual six-foot extensions. My first experience with this tool was in a pine plantation where this type saw was used to remove limbs from trees that were destined to become saw logs. 

The pole saw is an ideal tool for removing tree limbs that cannot otherwise be reached from the ground. A perfect example of its usefulness is in dealing with this dead tree top which has lodged itself in the fork of a live cedar and now poses a threat to people traveling the trail below.

If I was looking to be the star of an epic fail YouTube video, I would attempt to cut this tree by either standing on the very top of a folding ladder or by leaning my extension ladder against the horizontal trunk while I proceeded to cut my support out from under me. Since I hate to waste time by recovering from injuries, I try to perform tasks in as safe a manner as possible.

The pole saw allows me to stay securely on the ground while I safely work at dismantling the treetop. Even though the total length of my saw reach is 12 feet, the need to stand off to the side while operating the saw only allows me to effectively work an extra eight feet above my normal reach.

In most cases, it’s necessary to begin your cut on the upper side of a branch and work your way down. Cutting your way from one side of the branch to the other often causes the branch to twist and trap the saw blade in place, making you feel pretty stupid as you stand there wondering how you’re going to retrieve your saw.  You also don’t want the cut limb to come crashing down on you, so it’s not wise to be cutting with the saw held vertically above your head.

Not all cut pieces are obliging enough to fall in such a convenient position. I didn’t even have to bend over to shoulder this log for its trip to the brush pile.

In addition to the saw blade, the pole saw head has a hook that can be used to coax snagged branches out of the tree. The hook shape allows the tool to be used for both pushing and pulling. In tight situations or with densely tangled branches, the saw blade can be removed from the hook to eliminate the chances of the blade getting damaged or stuck.

I’ve had this tool for nearly 30 years and it is now on its second blade. It doesn’t get used often, but it’s awfully nice to have around when the pruning job calls for extra reach.


  1. I could just picture that epic fail video! I have one of those, quite handy. It's on the end of a long extendable painting pole, and also has a large cutting blade with a rope to pull it, for cutting smaller branches.

    1. Hi, Stew. The cutting blade is a valuable extra.