Purchasing and Using a Pole Chainsaw Pruner

An extended pole chainsaw can come in handy for the occasional user. But not everyone needs to spend a lot of money on a professional model.

I just purchased a new gas-powered extended pole chainsaw for several jobs around the yard and in my small farm woodlot. I have long used gas operated chainsaws but have always been reluctant to reach high to cut or saw off of platforms that might become unstable.

Chainsaw safety is a major concern and using one overhead is never done without a pole extension and at a proper angle. Even with a pole saw, I try never to cut limbs over a maximum 60-degree angle with the ground although it is tempting to cut on tiptoes and straight up. Don't do it as limbs will wind up in your face along with a moving saw chain and blade

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Buying Your First Pole Chainsaw

Stihl HT 56 C Gas Powered Pole Saw. Steve Nix

I will never be a commercial power pole saw user. So I decided to purchase a "lighter" Stihl HT 56 C which is considered a preferred saw for a property owner who does not demand continual use. Don't let using even a small pole chainsaw fool you. Even the lightest saw can be a man-killer and many jobs can be hard on even a large-sized person in good health.

I bought this saw from a local Stihl chainsaw dealer fully assembled and serviced for immediate use. I also purchased an extended five-year warranty which does not include parts of the powerhead subject to ethanol damage. Always purchase and use gas without biofuels.

It is almost mandatory to buy from a dealer because of the warranty, service and the inevitable need for maintenance. The best saws are easily serviced at a dealer of that particular brand done with appropriate parts by a mechanic who understands the brand. Cheaper saws have to be assembled if purchased online or in big box stores. It is hard to get service for cheaper saws.

The online reviews of the HT 56 were good, so it finally won out as the pole pruner I purchased. The saw is well-built and has adequate extension for most of the high trimming and pruning I will need to do. This is not considered a pro model but will hold up for my yard use and light farm chores. It is also $200 less than Stihl's more expensive "commercial" versions.

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Understanding Your Pole Chainsaw


Engine Parts

The main operating unit of the pole pruner is called a powerhead. It looks and works very much like a regular power saw though somewhat smaller. You have a trigger and a trigger lock at your hands, the red choke is on the left and is necessary during cold starts (see image.)

The fuel pump bulb is on the rear near the pull cord. Every pruner brand is different so read your operation manual. The gas tank is also near the pump bulb and should be filled only with non-alcohol gas mixed with a high-quality 2-cycle oil at a ratio of 50:1 (2.6 ounces of oil per gallon of gas.)

Operating a Pole Pruner

Gas-operated pole pruners are primarily used to put high trimming jobs within reach, giving you the power and precision to trim branches down to size. These saws either have a disconnecting drive tube or "pole" or one that can extend from within the tube. I purchased the connecting tube and can work at a maximum height of about 15 feet.

The pruner when intact has a balanced weight just behind the saw's powerhead. Transport the saw in a horizontal position holding the saw at that balance point. A smooth cutting operation works off this point in combination with a shoulder strap. As you take down limbs, stand firmly on the ground and do not take off too much limb at one time.

Do not tackle a large limb (over 4 inches in diameter) without cutting it in several sections. Each section should start with a small undercut to prevent tearing bark and pinching. Follow that with a top crosscut to drop the section. When the limb has been felled, flush cut the remaining trunk snag to a point where some cambium can begin to grow over and reseal the wound. Painting is not necessary.

Prevent Saw Pinching

It is a given that you will pinch your saw blade, especially as you are getting used to the physics of limb cutting. Prepare for a pinch by adding a handheld pruner to your tool kit. Pinched saws hanging from tree branches make for a bad day and much aggravation, not to mention a broken chain, blade or pole.

Regular pinched chainsaws have an advantage of being either on or near the ground. In the worst situation, several wedges can be tapped into the cut to release the saw. Pole saws can hang in terrible positions with no way to relieve the pinch. So managing weight and careful placement of cuts is important:

  • Size up the limb's weight and length and cut in manageable sections.
  • Use a small undercut at the limb drop point and finish off the section with a top cross-cut.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
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Chain Cutting Attachment

Pole pruning saw blade. Steve Nix

All you have attached to the end of a gas pole pruner is a small chain and bar. It is made of the same parts and attachments as a regular chainsaw but powered by the drive tube with a splined shaft. This drive tube must be properly attached (see manual) on detachable models but is not a problem on extending tubes. The detachable poles simply slide and snap and are easy to manage.

Mounting and tensioning the bar and chain follow the same rules as regular power saws. A sprocket cover needs to be removed and the tensioner adjusted to where the chainsaw pulls slightly off the blade track groove. Sharpening also should be done in the same way as a regular saw.

The chain oil container is mounted on this chain cutting attachment. The tank is easily located and the filler cap is completely visible and easily removed for filling. The storage capacity of the automatically applied chain oil typically lasts about half a tankful of fuel.

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Your Citation
Nix, Steve. "Purchasing and Using a Pole Chainsaw Pruner." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/purchasing-and-using-pole-chainsaw-pruner-1342691. Nix, Steve. (2023, April 5). Purchasing and Using a Pole Chainsaw Pruner. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/purchasing-and-using-pole-chainsaw-pruner-1342691 Nix, Steve. "Purchasing and Using a Pole Chainsaw Pruner." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/purchasing-and-using-pole-chainsaw-pruner-1342691 (accessed June 6, 2023).