Fiskars Chain Drive Extendable Pole Saw & Pruner: Review
If you have tall trees, get it. It’s well-made, easy to use, and will give your yard a manicured appearance without a landscaper budget.
Available on Amazon
When I was much younger, I would do things the hard way as if to tempt the safety gods. That means I’d stand on top of a rickety ladder—or even climb into a tree—with a chainsaw with one hand—in order to reach a branch that needed to be cut. Once I even used a drywall saw because I was too lazy to look for the right tool.
Today, I’m older and wiser, meaning I’m not strong or stupid enough to attempt such feats of insanity. That’s what excited me most about testing the new Fiskars Chain Drive Extendable Pole Saw & Pruner: it seemed like the right tool for the job—the job of cutting and pruning branches safely from the ground.
- Product weight: 5.95 lbs.
- Dimensions: 2.2″ x 7.8” x 82″ (fully collapsed) or 192″ (fully extended)
- Materials: Lightweight, strong fiberglass/ aluminum; precision-ground steel pruner and 15″ WoodZigTM saw blade
- Pruner max cutting capacity: 1 ¼”
- Saw max cutting capacity: 8″
- Locking system: Double-locking system combining flip lock and internal spring button lock
- Pruner gears: Chain-drive and pulley system
- Replaceable parts: Both the saw and pruner blades are replaceable
- Warranty: Full lifetime warranty
- Other features: Oval-shaped pole for natural fit in your hand; hooked end of saw blade to keep the blade in the cutting groove; bright orange color for easy finding in the middle of serious pruning/cutting
Going into this test, my previous experiences with a combination pole saw/pruner were not great. Several years before, I purchased a pole saw/pruner for a specific project on my property. Back in the day, I spent a lot of time in the gym. Which is good, because the tool weighed a ton. After a relatively short amount of time using that tool, I found myself too tired to even try to get out of the way of falling branches. When I moved to North Carolina, I borrowed and immediately broke my neighbors’ pole saw. I bought him a new one and decided to just let the trees win.
Could the Fiskars Pole Saw/Pruner help me reclaim my land and keep me from getting smacked in the face by low-hanging branches when I mow the lawn or walk around my yard? Let’s find out…
IS THIS BOX EMPTY?
When I first lifted the box off the front porch, I wondered if I were on Candid Camera where someone sent me an empty box and now filmed my reaction. Seriously, I’ve handled empty cardboard boxes that weighed more than this tool.
The Fiskars pole saw/pruner came with minimal packing, instructions, or assemble required, all which suit me fine.
That’s it. You’re ready to go to work!
The pruner is sharp enough to cleanly cut a 1 ¼” branch and the blade can saw through an 8″ limb. Imagine what this could do to one of your fingers or your leg should you walk into it while it’s on the ground. I recommend wearing leather gloves, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, enclosed shoes, and safety glasses like these. Even if you are careful enough to avoid contact with the cutting surfaces, you need to shield your eyes from falling sawdust and protect your arms and legs from falling branches. Case in point, I have fresh bruises from walking into branches that were on the ground. Those bruises would be scrapes and cuts were I wearing shorts.
EXTENDING AND LOCKING THE POLE
At its most compact length, the tool comes in a couple of inches short of 8 feet; fully extended, it reaches 16 feet. Once I got the hang of extending and locking the pole at the right length, I loved the ease and security of the locking mechanism.
The pole has two extenders and locks to give you a wide range of lengths to choose from. To unlock the pole, unhinge the flip lock and depress the internal spring button lock (top button) on the section you wish to extend. The pole has multiple holes visible once you slide out the pole from its compact form. Find the hole that best fits the reach you need. Release the upper button until you hear the pole click into place. Then re-secure the flip lock to the locked position. You’re ready to roll.
Initially, I didn’t lock the pole into a hole. On the first attempted use of the saw, I learned my mistake when the pole slid in an out with my attempts to cut. I guess I should have read those minimal instructions.
PRUNING AND CUTTING: HOW’D IT DO?
The first thing I noticed while carrying the tool to the first place I planned to use it was how the pole fit in my hand. The shaft felt like it had been made for me. I could grab it securely with ease, making me feel confident that this tool would not get away from me. Even dripping with sweat, the pole stayed tight in my hand.
I tested both the pruner and saw to get a feel for how it worked. Additionally, I used the tool at its shortest length, fully extended, and all lengths in between.
At first, I attempted a few practice cuts in the woods. In no time, I figured out the optimal length to extend the pole to match the height of the branch. It’s not smashing atoms, but you want to make sure that you’re far enough away from the branch you’re cutting that it doesn’t fall on your head.
The chain-drive/pulley system worked smoothly without any creeping or snagging. I liked the plastic pull at the bottom of the rope. It fit well in my hand. Unlike other extendable pruning tools I’ve used, the chain-drive/pulley system never became twisted around itself or branches.
When using the pole in its most compact form, you’re going to have a lot of extra rope in your hands or on the ground. The best solution for me was to either wrap the excess rope around the plastic pull or to wrap the rope around my gloved hand a few times and pull the rope. Notice I said gloved hand. The tension on the rope would do a number on bare flesh.
Fiskars suggests that the pruner works well for branches up to 1 ¼ inches. But come on: who can tell how big around a branch is when it’s 16 feet above your head? Apparently, either I am very good at estimating 1 ¼ inches or the tool is able to cut a bit more than what’s listed on their specifications.
I found the easiest way to use the pruner involved “stabbing” the saw above the branch I wished to cut and then hooking the pruning end over the branch near the limb or trunk. You have to make sure that the chain-drive/pulley system has enough room above to close the pruner mechanism. A few times I didn’t leave enough room or got too close to the trunk, and I had to reposition the pruner.
The pruner cuts very well. With only a couple of exceptions, the blades cleanly cut the branch with one, clean pull. I would describe 90% of the cuts as nearly surgical. It sheared clean through the branch with no bits of bark anchoring it to the tree. The couple of times it didn’t cut smoothly, I’m going to admit to user error. After making the cut, I noticed that I was cutting closer to a 600; angle instead of a 900 angle to the branch, making the branch thickness exceed the 1 ¼” maximum. Once I fixed my angle, the branches dropped cleanly.
After using the pruner for about 45 minutes, I examined it closely. Everything seemed in order except for the part of the metal frame that the blade cut against; pieces had been sheared away.
I checked to make sure that all nuts and bolts were securely fastened. I wiggled the pruning blade which proved that it had not gotten loose. The knick on the metal frame in no way compromised the cutting action, but I couldn’t figure out why it happened, and I wondered if the cut would become a deep gouge over time. Happily, it did not.
I used the pruner for another 4 hours. The cut mark on the frame did not get worse, and the unit performed as well as it had at the very beginning of my work.
The next day I took some time to go to the chiropractor. Don’t get old. Even with its light weight, keeping my arms overhead for such long periods of time used muscles I haven’t felt in decades.
Comfortable, Rigid & Lightweight Pole
Again, the oval shape of the pole makes it easy to hold and maneuver between branches. This might not be a big deal if you have one or two trees to prune. But if you’re going to use this tool for a couple of hours at a time, you will appreciate how the pole balances comfortably in your hands.
The lightweight fiberglass and aluminum pole on the Fiskars extendable pole saw/pruner proved more rigid than flexible, a trait even more important when using the saw (more on this in a bit). The Fiskars pruner worked equally well whether the pole was in its most compact form or extended all the way out. The light weight made the blade deflect on smaller branches but also made it easier to place it where I wanted it to be.
Saw Cutting Performance
Attaching the saw blade to the blade housing is simple. Insert the back of the blade into the round hole attached to the blade housing, and then slip the oblong hole in the blade into the protruding hard plastic part of the blade housing. Then tighten the included wing nut. You’re done!
I tested the 15″ WoodZigTM saw blade against an assortment of branches ranging from 8 to 16 feet overhead. To give you an idea of what I was asking the saw to cut, I used the Fiskars on oak, maple, cedar, Eastern redbud, sweet gum, and fruit trees. The largest branch I attempted to cut had a diameter of just over 6 inches, and that was a pin oak, a tree as sinewy as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s biceps.
The short of it is that I loved the saw function! Remember I mentioned that the pole seemed more rigid than flexible? That really helped when using the saw in the fully extended position. Instead of the blade bouncing around because of a jerking pole, the blade made a quick cut in the branch and stayed in its groove. Instead of losing energy with the pole bending, the energy transferred directly to the cutting surface.
The hook on the end of the blade allowed me to use the full length of the blade and reduced the number of strokes required to cut the branch through.
With bigger branches, don’t expect a clean cut. What I mean by that is that by the time you cut through 2/3rds of a branch, gravity kicks in and the branch starts to drop. With a chainsaw, you can give the saw enough power to cut completely through before the branch starts to hang. Or if you’re cutting a huge branch, you can back-cut it to keep the saw from pinching and allow the branch to fall free. But when using a pole saw, expect that bigger branches are going to drop and hang before you can complete most cuts. Once it drops and hangs, I found it easier to remove the saw from the groove and undercut the remaining strands of wood that keep the branch airborne from another angle.
The only wood that gave me a challenge were soft, stringy woods like cedar and pine. Stringy, elastic woods tend to bounce under the saw instead of getting a solid purchase. One solution I found was to bring the saw closer to the trunk of the tree where it was less apt to spring up and down under the saw.
I’m not sure what the WoodZigTM saw blade is meant to do, but I noticed that once I made the first cut in a branch, the saw stayed in the groove, saving time and frustration.
After using the saw function over the course of several days, I noticed that the blade seemed loose. The wingnut was still secure. However, I noticed that the hard plastic inset securing the blade to the housing started to stretch.
While this stretching caused only a minor amount of play in the blade, it makes me wonder if the problem will become more severe over time. The saw blade still functioned well, though, and I still had no problem cutting through a variety of branches.
The Fiskars Extendable Pole Saw & Pruner comes with a full lifetime warranty. I don’t ever remember reviewing an item that offered such a comprehensive product warranty.
Here’s what I loved about the Fiskars Extendable Pole Saw & Pruner:
- Quality – With few exceptions, I have found Fiskars products to be extremely well made. And this certainly was no exception. It’s made for serious work, and the quality means you won’t be replacing this tool every other season. From the locking mechanism to the chain drive/pulley cutting system to the sharp, strong cutting surfaces, this is a quality tool.
- Ergonomics – The pole fits nicely in your hand. Since the pole is more oval than round, it feels meatier, making it easy to maneuver when you’re working overhead where visibility can be limited.
- Lightweight – Even though the tool is light, its rigid design allows you to keep the pruner and blade where you want it without bouncing in and out of the sweet spot you’re trying to cut.
- Length – With its ability to extend to 16′, I could cut everything I hoped to cut without a ladder or without putting myself dangerously directly underneath the branch I was cutting. Many other extendable units lose their effectiveness the longer you extend the pole.
- Chain drive – Other extendable pruners I’ve used tend to get twisted around the pull mechanism, meaning I’d spend equal time getting the rope and pulley untangled from branches. That wasn’t the case with the Fiskars. The chain drive/pulley system had a small enough footprint on the tool that it didn’t get caught or twisted in branches.
Here is the one thing I would like to see improved:
- Lose the hard plastic – I’m not a fan of plastic parts coming into contact with metal parts. Metal will always win against plastic when force or friction is applied. I’d like to see the saw blade housing replaced with something more durable to prevent stretching over time.
BOTTOM LINE – If you have trees, get it. It’s well-made, easy to use, and will give your yard a manicured appearance without a landscaper budget.
WHERE TO BUY
You can purchase the Fiskars Chain Drive Extendable Pole Saw & Pruner on Amazon. In my opinion, it’s worth every penny.
Last update on 2019-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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