WOLF-Garten® Interlocken® Pole Pruning System: Product Review
German engineering at its best. Consider buying the WOLF Garten ®Interlocken® system if you want more room, less clutter, and top-quality tools.
Available on Amazon
The WOLF-Garten® Interlocken® pruning pole system is a combination of parts, including a telescoping pole, pruning saw, and bypass lopper head.
The concept behind the Interlocken® system is to offer a variety of “handles” (poles – either fixed or telescoping) in differing lengths with a series of attachments that “allows for more than 1,000 combinations (of tools to handles), while saving space by creating a system that limits the amount of poles you have to store.” I like to call it a “plug-n-play” system, where multiple tools work with a single handle.
WOLF-Garten® makes Interlocken® tools for cultivating, weeding, raking, home care, window care, tree care, winter clean-up, and more. The company also manufactures individual tools, like bypass and anvil pruners and loppers, and hedge shears, among others. You can find our review of the WOLF-Garten® Telescoping Loppers here.
Aluminum is an excellent conductor of electricity, so never use this pole pruner (or any other tool with an aluminum shaft) around power lines.
- Handle (Pole): Telescoping from 87 – 157 inches
- Handle Material – Outside Tube: plastic coated aluminum
- Handle Material – Inside Tube: aluminum
- Handle Diameter (outside tube): 1-1/8 inches
- Handle Locking Mechanism: Spring-loaded pin drops into pre-drilled holes every 14 inches
- Saw Length w/ handle: 24 inches
- Saw Blade Length: 16 inches
- Saw Blade Material: Double-hardened Swedish steel (meaning “Impulse” hardened)
- Saw Teeth Geometry: Double grind geometry
- Bypass Lopper Head Material: High carbon steel
- Bypass Lopper Head Coating: PTFE (similar to Teflon®)
- Bypass Lopper Head Practical Cutting Diameter: 1 inch
WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE INTERLOCKEN® DESIGN?
How many tools have you owned with a dedicated handle for each implement? Hoes, rakes, cultivators, shovels, brooms, weeders, dethatchers…pretty soon, your garden shed or garage looks like a broomstick factory. Wood, fiberglass, aluminum, and steel handles make it hard to find the tool you need because it’s buried under a pile of other tools.
Wouldn’t it be nice to own just one or two handles and a lot of plug-and-play tools that snap into the end of these poles (or “handles,” as WOLF-Garten® calls them)? This is the fundamental concept of the Interlocken® system. WOLF-Garten® eliminates excess handles and concentrates instead on developing implements that plug into the end of a handle and snap in place with a pin to hold the tool firmly in position. Fewer handles, more options. Less frustration, more flexibility. One or two handles, plus a box or two of plug-in tools, and your garage can now be clutter-free!
DOES THE INTERLOCKEN® SYSTEM REALLY WORK?
My experience with the tree gear (telescoping handle, saw head, and bypass lopper head) was mind-blowing. I was impressed with how securely the tools snapped into place. There was virtually no wiggling around of the tool heads (also known as “play”). I felt like I was driving a precision German sports car when using the tree gear. Even when I used the pole saw head, I expected some play in the system when I pulled hard on the handle to lop off branches. Instead, it stayed secure.
Another well-considered feature of the Interlocken® tree pruning system is what I like to call the “button guard.” WOLF-Garten® realized that implements thrust into brushy tree canopies might get hung up on branches, depressing the locking button and causing the tool head to get stuck in the tree, while the handle remained in your hands. The button guard is molded into the pruning saw head and added to the bypass lopper head (held in place with a short piece of rope). I poked around some pretty thick tree canopies, and I never experienced either the saw or the bypass lopper heads detaching from the handle.
I reviewed the ZMV4 handle, a telescoping handle that extends from 87 inches (7.25 feet) to 157 inches (13.08 feet). The handle is basically a two-piece aluminum pole:
- The outer pole includes a plastic cover and cap at the end of the handle.
- The inner handle is an aluminum pole with six equally-spaced holes.
At the front end of the handle, you’ll find a red-colored plastic thumb lever, mounted in a yellow housing. The red lever activates a spring-loaded pin that fits precisely (and with no play) into one of six holes.
A “V” notch molded into the spring/pin activation system aligns with a small hole. This hole acts as a guide to properly position the larger, round hole under the spring- activated pin. Since both handles are round, the inner handle spins freely around in a circle when not locked in place. The small alignment hole ensures the correct position for the spring-loaded pin to drop into the inner handle hole.
At the front of the inner tube (inside the handle), you’ll find a red button. When you depress the button, the handle accepts Interlocken® tools. The button is spring-loaded and snaps back into place when the tool is fully inserted into the end of the handle – holding the tool in place.
Of all the pole saw/lopper head handles I’ve reviewed to date, the WOLF-Garten® telescoping handle provides the stiffest, most rigid handle. There was virtually no flex, even when extended to its max length of just over 13 feet. The stiffness made it very easy to control the saw head and avoid bouncing when positioning it for the initial saw pruning cut. The handle also provided an extremely stable platform to position the lopper head.
I liked its fixed pole position holes versus a fully-adjustable pole length mechanism. We’ve tested other telescoping poles (handles) that give infinite length flexibility, but often they loosened up and slid back and forth when using the saw head. With locking holes placed every 14 inches, I felt the handle gave me enough length flexibility to tackle anything from 7 feet to just over 13 feet.
ONE HANDLE, TWO TOOLS – Tree Saw
I used the professional grade tree saw first. Its high-carbon, double-hardened Swedish steel blade is impulse hardened. (“Impulse hardened” is a metallurgy term for a blade manufactured to be three times harder than conventional high carbon steel.) The blades last three times longer, but because of the manufacturing process, it makes the teeth so hard that they cannot be sharpened.
The saw also includes a hook at the end of the blade to pull cut, stuck branches out of the canopy of a tree.
Additionally, a metal hook where the blade attaches to the handle allows the saw to hang in the tree when not in use. Please note: many pole saws offer this feature, but you should be exceedingly careful about its use. Accidents can happen if the wind picks up and the saw falls off a wind-blown branch. Also, if you’re not paying attention, you may back into the hanging saw and dislodge it, causing the saw to fall and potentially cut you. The hook is a nice feature, but treat it with great respect. Safety first. Enough said.
While the saw attaches to the telescoping handle, its design allows it to be used also on its own as a hand saw. Molded into the handle is a hand grip with a notch for the index finger and a hook at the back of the saw, making sure my hand wouldn’t slip off when operating the saw in the pull stroke. (The saw cuts on the pull stroke).
Video of the Wolf-Garten Interlocken Pole Saw
Watch the video review of the Wolf-Garten Interlocken pole saw below to learn about various features of the pole saw, how to adjust the length, and see it in action as we tested it out on some mesquite wood in Tucson, Arizona.
ONE HANDLE, TWO TOOLS – Bypass Lopper
Like the saw, the bypass lopper fit like a glove at the end of the Interlocken® telescoping handle. I liked several features:
- The pulley system gave it tremendous cutting power. The cutting head operated with 4 pulleys, which gave it a 4:1 power ratio.
- The adjustable pull handle is designed like a jam cleat. I didn’t have to wrap the pull rope around my arm or tie a knot in the rope below the handle when I needed to “choke up” on the rope. Instead, the pull handle was placed on the rope at the proper position and then forced into one side or other of the hollow handle’s tapered slot. Fantastic! Who wants to fight extra rope? Not me.
- Additionally, the bypass lopper head came with a rope-tending device. Essentially, it is a plastic sleeve and metal coil that slips over the handle (pole) and acts as a rope guide, neatly managing the rope that comes directly off the cutting head pulley system.
- The pivoting cutting head swings about 300 when you pull up on two levers and let them drop back into slots machined into the mechanism. This gives the cutting head the ability to adjust to meet the branch at the optimal cutting angle so that a proper pruning cut can be achieved1.
- The 300 adjustment increments swing through an 1800 arc. I found it practical to use the head from 00 (the head is parallel to the handle) through 900 (the head is perpendicular to the handle). Between rotating the handle and adjusting the head to the proper angle, I made proper pruning cuts.
1 The cutting blade should be resting against the branch that is not going to be removed, and the counter blade (the non-cutting blade) should be on the outside of the cutting blade. This is the only way to achieve a proper pruning cut where a “stub” is not left behind (where insects and diseases can infect the tree). See the video below for more information.
Video of the Wolf-Garten Interlocken Pole Pruner
Below you’ll find a video review of the Wolf-Garten Interlocken Pole Pruner. See how the pole pruner works, its rotating capabilities, the proper way to make a pruning cut, some initial thoughts on its performance, and examples of it cutting through some mesquite tree branches.
Cutting Performance – Saw
The saw made nice, clean cuts whether I used it at the end of the handle or as a stand-alone hand saw. The double-ground, double-hardened Swedish steel cut through branches without a hitch.
The double-ground teeth configuration on this saw is different than the more commonly found triple-ground tooth geometry and makes deeper striations on the branch when making a pruning cut. However, it still makes a perfectly acceptable clean, fast cut.
Cutting Performance – Bypass Lopper
The bypass lopper head with its 4:1 power ratio made quick work of one-inch diameter mesquite wood (which is very hard stuff).
Practically speaking, the lopper will only cut material in the one-inch range, even though the blades can open as wide as 1-½ inches. When the blades were fully opened (i.e., beyond 1 inch), I found that branches slid off the counter blade when the cutting blade closed.
As far as the cuts were concerned, they were nice and clean. The blades are coated with PTFE (similar to Teflon®) to prevent sap and resins from building up on them.
WOLF Garten® also added another cool feature to the lopper head – the ability to lock the blades closed for safe transport. By molding a tapered hook into one of the mechanical levers, the rope could be jammed into this area, keeping the pruning blades closed.
For the saw blade, WOLF Garten® provided a protective plastic guard that integrated perfectly with the sharp saw teeth.
When using either the saw or lopper heads, I recommend using safety glasses to protect your eyes from falling sawdust and/or branches. Additionally, saw blades can break if bent at extreme angles, and metal fragments could hit you in the eye(s). I recommend these safety glasses from Wiley-X .
Also, use a good pair of gloves. They not only keep your hands safe from the sharp edges of the cutting blades but also help prevent scratches and cuts to your hands while dragging brush or inserting the pole handle into thick, brushy environments.
Finally, when cutting branches directly over your head, I recommend wearing a hard hat. You’ll find many hard hats available from big box stores or online. Make sure to purchase one that is ANSI (American National Standards Institute) approved.
WOLF-Garten® offers one of the longest warranties (that I’ve seen) in the industry: 35 years against defects in material and workmanship. Please be aware that this warranty only applies to those products purchases directly from WOLF Garten® or from Blue Stone Garden at BlueStoneGarden.com. If products are available on Amazon, make sure that they are sold by BlueStone and fulfilled by Amazon.
I liked the WOLF-Garten® Interlocken® system very much. It cut down on the number of handles typically dedicated to each gardening/landscaping tool. It also gave me the flexibility to store implements in a much more organized and confined space, giving me more room in my garden shed. The tools fit the handle perfectly, and I experienced virtually no play between the tool and the handle – German engineering at its best.
The tools were sharp and made clean cuts. The telescoping handle was uber-stiff and provided a secure platform so there was no flexing of the shafts. The rigid handle was a real benefit when starting the saw and lopper cuts. The tools stayed in place, and I didn’t need to use a lot of extra body strength to position them, which can be tiring with a wobbly handle.
I liked the safety features of the locking lopper head and the saw teeth guard. And speaking of guards, I appreciated the engineering of the button guard used to protect the button that attached the cutting tools to the end of the handle.
Would I recommend this system? You bet.
WHERE TO BUY
WOLF-Garten® tools aren’t typically found in big box stores, although some of their tools can be purchased in independent garden centers. Generally, your best option is to buy them online.
The Interlocken system is sold as either a set or as separate parts so you can purchase only the tools you need. Look for sets on www.wolfgarten.us. If you’d rather buy the parts individually, you can find them on Amazon.
Start with the 3943704/smv4 96-1/2-inch by 157-inch Vario Handle and add on whichever components you need. The pruning saw and lopper I reviewed are shown separately below.
Last update on 2020-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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