Chainsaw vs Pole Saw – Understanding Your Tool’s Purpose

With all the different types of chainsaws available out there, it can be difficult to differentiate between the various designations if you don’t know how they look and what they’re used for. A lot of inexperienced buyers have a difficulty understanding what a pole saw does.

In order to clarify things, this guide will take you through the steps required towards operating a pole saw, what makes it tick, and what separates it from other types.

What Is a Pole Saw?

Pole saw is also known as pruner chainsaw. Hence, it is actually a type of chainsaw. The name should be pretty much self-explanatory. Unlike traditional chainsaws, a pole saw has the chainsaw attached at the end of a pole. This helps you get sufficient height to prune tall bushes and trees.

The extended reach and unique design are pretty much the only things that set it apart from the traditional chainsaw design. Pole saw is also very specific in terms of applications. While a regular chainsaw can also be used to chop down branches, you won’t be able to use a pole saw to safely cut ‘2 x 4’s to size nor do household repair work.

Different Types of Pole Saws


Pole saws, like the standard chainsaws, are available in two basic types – electric and gas-powered. Each one has its own pros and cons so let me break them down for you. There are also manual pole saws but unless you’re a professional, you’ll probably have no use for one.

Electric Pole Saws

Electric pole saws can be corded or cordless. Corded pole saws tend to be a lot more powerful and a lot easier to maneuver. That’s because they don’t have a heavy battery on them. But, the length of the power cable can often get in the way.

Cordless pole saws are preferred for public grooming jobs. With the battery technology available today, most pole saws have sufficient autonomy for a couple hours of work.

Gas-Powered Pole Saws

If you’ve ever used a weed eater for controlling lawn weed then you might be familiar with how a gas-powered pole saw works. It may need priming, depending on some engine designs, and pulling the cord to start the engine. Most modern pole saws of this type also feature a variable action trigger that allows you to control the blade speed.

Manual Pole Saws


Manual pole saws are simplistic but efficient for a number of reasons. Without an engine or a battery, manual pole saws can have longer poles for an even greater reach. They’re also easier to maneuver, even though they do require considerable work to get the job done.

Despite the popularity of electric and gas-powered pole saws, most professional landscapers and arborists also have at least one manual saw on hand. They take skill to use, but they may be less damaging in certain pruning tasks.

Common Uses for Pole Saws

Arborists use pole saws to clear bushes and prune or trim trees. Pruning and trimming often get mixed up in meaning. Pruning is what you do every year. It’s a necessary grooming process for trees to enjoy healthy growth during the warmer months.

Trimming, although the most common application for pole saws, is something done only when required. Trimming involves cutting off unwanted branches. You do this one limb at a time. This isn’t usually necessary in order for trees to remain healthy.

However, trimming helps reduce the amount of shade or reduce the risk of dead branches breaking off and falling during storms.

Finally, owing to their design, pole saws are far less practical than their traditional counterparts for common wood cutting jobs.

Pole Saw Maintenance Requirements


If you plan on buying a pole saw, know that, similar to regular chainsaws, they’ll need maintenance from time to time. Even manual pole saws require some maintenance. You have to check the sharpness and straightness of the blade to avoid injuring yourself.

Electric and gas-powered pole saws are more difficult to maintain. You’ll have to constantly check how much battery you have left, check the oil, clean air and oil filters, check for fuel leaks, and so on.

This will differ from one type of pole saw to another and sometimes the particular maintenance tasks may also depend on the engine manufacturer. One more important thing to keep your eye on is the tension. This will determine how clean the cuts will be and the branch thickness you can cut through.

Do You Need a Pole Saw?

Are you an arborist? Do you plan on starting a landscaping business? Do you have lots of trees in your garden that need grooming? If so, a pole saw may be a good purchase for you. But, if you only want to groom one or two trees, any regular chainsaw will do the trick, as long as you follow the safety instructions to a tee.