How to Use a Pole Saw (Step-By-Step Guide)

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If you are looking to clear up your yard this spring or fall and need to cut some branches or prune your tree then a pole saw can be an effective way of getting the job done. These special purpose saws allow you to cut difficult or hard to reach places, and can easily handle cutting smaller tree branches or some light pruning tasks.

With that being said, before getting started it is important that you know how to properly use a pole saw – especially if you will be cutting on a ladder or at any kind of height. To help we’ve outlined some simple instructions below that will have you cutting like a professional in no time. 

We’d also like to note that working at heights, especially with a saw, can be dangerous, if at any point you feel like the instructions are out of your scope it could be wise to call a professional arborist or tree service company to complete the job for you. Now let’s get started.

Instructions: 7 Steps to Use a Pole Saw

1. Clear your area

Before you begin making any kind of plans or cuts you will want to clear out the area beneath the tree to ensure the falling branches do not cause any damage and to ensure you have a safe field of operation when working. This shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes, just remove any debris that may block your way well cutting and take note of anything that could trip you. Then remove any objects you do not want damaged. Once this is done you should be good to move on to the next step.

2. Plan your cut

Now that your area is cleared you can move on to planning your cut. This part is relatively simple, you will want to review the branch and make any preliminary cuts to remove as much as possible before removing the final limb. As a good rule of thumb, don’t try to cut any branch that would be too heavy for you to carry with one hand, anything larger and you risk hurting yourself.

3. Position the branch and saw

With your branch prepped for cutting you will want to try and reduce any weight on it. This will allow you to get a cleaner cut and minimize the potential for the branch to snap mid cut, which could cause potential harm. If you took the last step seriously you shouldn’t have much work left, just ensure there is no unneeded pressure on the branch, and if necessary tie it back. This will give you the extra confidence you need to make a clean, controlled, cut.

4. Stand Back

With all the prep work out of the way it’s time to get yourself in a safe position, this is typically a few steps back from the branch you will be cutting and away from the tree but you will know best. The main point here is to ensure that you do not get hit by any branches when cutting. Once you are in a good area, hold the saw at about chest level with a good angle in the pole; If the pole is high you will not have enough control.

5. Notch the branch with a grove

Now, holding the tool, make a small cut in the top of the branch with the saw. This cut should form a small notch or groove in the wood which you will be able to use as a guideline, not only helping to prevent the saw from slipping but also giving you a cleaner cut. As a small tip, try to ensure the notch is as straight as possible, any angles can cause difficulty when going in for the final cut.

6. Complete the cut with the saw

With your guideline set all you need to continue to do is saw. Remember to keep a constant watch on the branch as you cut through it and a firm grip on the saw as you pull back and forth. Clean consistent pulls will help increase your odds of achieving a smooth cut and reduce your risk of injury

7. Clear debris

After you have made your cut you will want to remove any branches or twigs that may be scattered around your cutting area, once this is done you are ready for the next branch!

Cutting Technique

Jump cuts are a cutting technique that allow the branch or limb to spring away from the tree and person doing the cutting. They are typically employed by arborists when dealing with branches or tree limbs that require pruning but may be unsafe to cut directly. To learn more about them check out the video below

(Source: International Society of Arboriculture, 2008).

General Tips for Safe Pole Saw Use

If the instructions weren’t enough, we have also included some general tips below to help you operate your pole saw safely.

  • Do not try to cut branches larger than 6 inches, most pole saws on the market are not intended for anything larger. If you need to cut through anything larger consider purchasing a chainsaw.
  • Ensure your work area has been properly cleared of any debris and that there are no loose overhead branches or power lines in the area.
  • Try not to over extend the pole – the longer the pole, the less control you will have of the saw..
  • Make sure that your blade has been properly sharpened prior to use. A dull blade can cause the saw to stick in the wood or lose control.
  • Keep yourself on flat ground, one of the main reasons for a pole is so that you do not require a ladder or stool.


We hope this step-by-step guide helped you learn how to use your new tool, as always if you have any questions, make sure to drop a comment at the bottom of this article and a member of our team will do our best to get back to you.



Ryan is a writer for He's been a hobbyist and painter for a long time, and now enjoys teaching others. His content primarly focuses on reviews and guides for painters and construction professionals.

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