How to Use a Pole Saw or Pole Pruner + Essential Safety Tips

If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

Share It

Is there a limb or branch you want to cut that is too high for you to reach? If you find them annoying, impeding the tree’s growth, or just visually unappealing, then you need a pole pruner.

To begin, you need to know how to use a pole saw or pruner, and this is what we will teach you.

Using a Pole Saw in 10 Steps

Step #1: Prepare and Clear the Space

Make sure there are no people or valuable property in the area where you will be standing to cut down tree limbs. Also, check for potential trip hazards, like exposed roots, to ensure safe and easy movement across the workspace.

Roping off the area will prevent passers-by from being too near to your job in a public area.

Step #2: Determine the Parts You’ll Cut

Remember that making several smaller jump cuts is uncommon before making the final cut on a single huge branch.

cutting with pole saw

If you can choose where to make your cuts on the twig or vine, do it on horizontal or nearly horizontal surfaces.

Step #3: Start Cutting the Lower Branches

Consider how you will get to the topmost limb or twig that needs to be cut down. In most cases, this entails amputating the lower extremities first.

If you want to safely and easily cut branches from higher up in the tree, you’ll need to start clearing the way by removing the ones on the lower part.

To begin, devise a strategy for removing the tree’s lower limbs. Get started with the lower planks of wood and work your way up.

Step #4: Position Yourself

When cutting with a pole saw, it’s best to stand to the side rather than directly under it. If you use the correct position, you’ll be less likely to be hurt when the trunk finally gives way.

trimming an old tree with a Stihl Pole Saw

Make sure the pole saw’s end is at chest height. Get a good grip on the pole saw at an angle to get the best results from your cuts. 

Step #5: Set the Pole Saw’s Length

Once you get into a proper position, set the height of your pole saw before you begin cutting.

How you do this will vary with each saw, therefore, it’s best to check the handbook.

The next step is to hold the pole saw at chest level and extend it so the blade can reach the lowest branch.

Step #6: Adjust its Blade

You’ll need both hands to get a heavy-duty pole saw to where you’ll be cutting. Put the saw down for a second and ensure you can handle it.

Sun Joe SWJ803E 10 Inch 8.0 Amp Electric Multi-Angle Pole Chain Saw

Once you’ve gained confidence in your ability to maintain balance, you can shift the saw’s blade to support the branch’s weight. But do not begin cutting yet.

Step #7: Cut Away

First, cut perpendicularly to make your first strokes sink in as much as possible, even though the rest of the cut will need to go in a different direction. Making a groove can help direct your subsequent, faster strokes.

If the branch is slanted, your saw may try to slip sideways during these preliminary strokes. If the saw slips, pause what you’re doing, rebalance your position, and then try again.

Step #8: Finish the Cut

Hand pruners make their cuts with the gravity of the pull stroke. Watch the branch closely, especially as it gets closer to the point of dropping, and be prepared to leave if necessary.

Step #9: Clear the Space Again

As soon as the limb hits the ground, you should move it out of the way so you can continue cutting.

As you wander around to get different limbs, be careful not to trip.

Greenworks PRO 80V 10 Inch Brushless Cordless Polesaw

Step #10: Move on to the Next Section to Cut

After you’ve chopped off one branch, you can move to make subsequent cuts in a correct and safe position.

First, you should trim the lower limbs, then move on to the upper ones. Again, ensure you’re standing well away from the limb you’ll be cutting.

You should raise your pruner so the cutting edge is leveled with your chest and the branch is within reach.  

When the groove is finished, you can quickly raise your stroke speed to work off the rest of the wood. You’ll want to move the fallen branch out of the way after it lands.

Repeat this process until all of the unwanted twigs have been cut away.

cutting the next part

The saw blade must be held vertically against the branch to make a clean cut. Once your blade is in place, you may start cutting the groove.

Cautions to Know During Tree Cutting

Pruning branches from the ground is a hazardous task. A professional arborist will use a pulley system with ropes to gently lower a heavy log. With pole saws and pruners, you have to let the wood fall uncontrollably.

A large branch or tall piece of wood that falls can cause serious injury or even death. Therefore, avoid cutting down trees near or overhead power lines.

You should not use your pruning tools to fall overhead boughs until you have mastered the procedures of making preliminary and jump-cuts [1]. These techniques will reduce the tree’s weight before making the final cut.

Pole Saw Cutting Tips and Basics

pole saw

Safety Tips: What to Wear, Which Branches to Cut, and Where to Stand

cutting tree


We hope you have learned how to use a pole saw properly and safely using this guide. There’s no doubt that a pole saw is the best tool for tree-cutting jobs, but you should familiarize yourself with all the potential dangers involved. 

If you’re unsure where to start, don’t hesitate to consult with an expert if the job is something you can handle safely on your own.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
Related Articles
Get 3 Free Woodworking Plans

We’ll send you free plans and more cool stuff. No spam.

Get 3 woodworking plans for free

Instant Access. Free. Beginner-Friendly.