How To Use A Pole Saw (5 Step Guide)

Looking for a guide on how to use a pole saw?

Superb, you are in the right place

In this ToolGaloreHQ.com blog, we will show you:

  • Fundamental uses of pole saw
  • Safe usage of the tool
  • How to operate it like a pro
  • And So Much More!
How to use a pole saw
Before we carry and show you how to use a pole saw. Read the table below

What You Need To Know About How To Use A Pole Saw

We all know that cutting those hard to get to branches can often be a bit of a hassle. Fortunately there are tools such as the pole saw to help with pruning your trees.

By now, I am sure that you have had some level of contact with this tool. A pole saw is practically just a miniature chainsaw (generally about 8 or 10 inches in blade length) attached to the head of a pole.

How to use a pole saw

Now as with all power tools there are a couple of fundamental things you need to understand and know before we can fully delve into how to operate the tools effectively.

Fundamental Operation

This tool is exceptionally easy to use. Depending on whether it’s electric or gas powered – most pole saws have a trigger mechanism in the form of a safety lock. This practically helps the operator with controlling the torque of the machine in a safe and reliable manner.

If the machine is gas powered, at the base there is a fuel tank coupled with a choke. Upon first using the machine it is important to release the choke all the way down. This is coupled with a crank on the cord to get the pole saw going.

If the machine is electric powered, then the operation is a lot simpler and all you really need to do is focus on operating the trigger mechanism effectively.

Read More:>>> Who manufactures craftsman chainsaws?

What to Look Out For When Learning How To Use A Pole Saw

User Manual

Now this goes without saying, but there are many nuances that I will not cover in this blog. I will be primarily focused on the overall operation of the tool.

Be sure that whichever manufacturer you go with, that they have a good set of operation/user manuals to help with navigating their specific machine.

Safety is always #1

Safety when using this tool is extremely critical. I cannot stress this enough. Most accidents related to the usage of a power tool tend to occur when the operator does not take into account all the safety requirements.

For a pole saw one of the most common mistakes that I have observed is people pruning with the blade directly overhead. This is a complete no-no.

how to use a pole saw


The reason you shouldn’t do this is because in this position you have very little leverage on the tool. If natural forces such as the wind pick up then the blade could easily spin out of control, and worst case towards you or someone nearby. So always be careful.

This topic is so important I want us to dive a bit deeper into a couple of things you should avoid when learning how to use a pole saw.

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Things To Avoid When Learning How To Use A Pole Saw

Many people tend to forget that certain apparel is not suited for working with power tools, especially pole saws.

One of the most important things to do before even getting to learn how to use a pole saw is to ensure that your clothing is fit for purpose.

Clothes not suited for pole saw

Avoid wearing any heavy clothes. Cutting and operating a pole saw against gravity will wear down even the most skilled operators, let alone your occasional weekend warrior or DIYer. Having heavy clothing makes the task of pruning a lot more painful. So avoid clothing that adds unnecessary weight.

Be careful not to wear baggy jeans, loose shirts or dangling jewelry. These items can very easily get all tangled up within the pole chain saw or underbrush.

Also, one other thing is to avoid working at extreme temperatures. This is either very hot or very cold. Let me explain why…

Most often the pole saw will be used outside in full light of the elements. When the temperature is extremely hot and humid, as the operator you are exposed to heat exhaustion at best and in the worst case scenario a heat stroke.

To mitigate for this it’s important to always keep hydrated in hot and humid weathers.

The other extreme that is often not quite spoken about, is to avoid operating your pole saw in extremely cold conditions. The combination of cold weather and the effects of vibration could potentially lead to something called Raynaud’s Phenomenon.

This phenomenon occurs when there is a decreased blood flow to your fingers and one of the things that really exasperates this is operating in cold weather.

So to mitigate for this, always try and keep your hands warm by wearing power equipment work gloves.

Equipment You’ll Need To Effectively Learn How To Use A Pole Saw

There are a couple of things you will need to have or bring along with you as you are learning how to use a pole saw effectively. See below.

  • Fuel Supplies (if you are using a gasoline powered pole saw);
  • Have a First Aid Kit readily available;
  • Wear eye protection, ear muffs and workman gloves;
  • And of course – an actual pole saw.

5 Step Guide On How To Use A Pole Saw

Step 1 - Setup your work area

When it comes to using a pole saw, planning or having a general idea of how many branches you want to prune and how far they are from the ground is vital.

This is especially the case if it’s an electric machine that requires an extension cord. The distance to and from the various trees makes a huge difference. Also if there are many trees dispersed over a wider area – you may want to opt for a gas powered pole saw instead.

So as you can see knowing what you will be pruning (and were these branches will be) makes a massive difference.

Step 2 - Be prepared (Remember Safety is #1)

I have hammered on this point quite a bit already, but it never hurts to reiterate. ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS follow the safety precautions as per the user manual.

You cannot believe how many such injuries could have been avoided if the people just followed safety precautions as per the user manual. Don’t let this be you. Safety is always #1.

Step 3 - Activate your Pole Saw

Plug in the pole saw/run the motor. Follow this on by gripping the pole saw correctly and firmly in place. Be sure that you have it fully under control whilst the saw head is running before starting the next step which is cutting of the branch.

Many people often make the mistake of starting the pole saw on a branch. By all means avoid doing this as the forces that are at play can easily lead the operator (you) to lose control of the machine.

Step 4 - Start Cutting (Be aware of the infamous kickback)

Now that you have the pole saw under control and the chainsaw is running it is time to get to the fun part – cutting and pruning of branches.

The key here is to let the chain do it’s thing, never move back and forth as with a manual chainsaw. This damages the pole saws chain.

Make sure as well that you are holding the tool firmly as you will be subject to a couple of powerful forces. These include pull, push, rotational and linear kickback.

Also once you have become quite comfortable cutting using a up-to-down movement, you can try cutting larger branches in a two step process:

  • Cutting from up to down half way through;
  • Followed by a down to up cut to finish off the branch.

This last tip above is often used once a person is really comfortable with handling the tool.

Step 5 - Clear area

Lastly clearing the work area, placing the scabbard back onto the chainsaw head and disengaging the choke are all measures of safe operation. Make sure you remove the pole saw completely from the work area when you are clearing debris, to avoid any accidental triggering.

Read More:>>> Learn the art of cutting rocks with a tile saw

Final Thoughts On How To Use A Pole Saw

Fantastic, I hope this guide has shown you that using a pole saw is really not that difficult. Once you can spend time understanding and reading the user manual – then the actual operation becomes quite straight forward. One last tip – always be aware of any animals or humans within the same vicinity as you work. Kickback is a real thing. Happy pruning.


Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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