Trees and shrubs can boost curb appeal—but not if they’re overgrown or blocking windows. Keeping a landscape tidy requires more than one tool, but among the best for trimming small branches and shrubs is the trusty pruning saw.
Pruning saws are well suited for cutting branches that are too thick to cut with pruning shears or loppers, and they’re the tool of choice for cutting overhead because they require just one hand to operate. The best pruning saw will vary by user because trimming needs also vary. Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for a pruning saw, and find out why the following models are well suited to a variety of trimming tasks.
- BEST OVERALL: Fiskars 15 Inch Pruning Saw with Handle
- RUNNER-UP: TABOR TOOLS Pruning Saw with Sheath 10 Inch
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: REXBETI Folding Saw, Compact Design 8 Inch Blade
- BEST SAW GRIP: Corona RS 7510D RazorTOOTH Heavy Duty Pruning Curved
- BEST POLE MOUNT: DocaPole “GoSaw” Combination Extension Pole-Mounted
- BEST FOLDING: Corona RS16150 RazorTOOTH Folding Pruning Saw
- BEST WITH SCABBARD: Samurai Ichiban 13″ Curved Pruning Saw with Scabbard
- BEST ON-THE-GO: FLORA GUARD Folding Hand Saw, Camping/Pruning Saw
- BEST EXTENSION: HOSKO 10FT Pole Saw for Tree Trimming, Long Extension
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pruning Saw
Trimming trees and shrubs does more than just make them look their best—it’s essential to remove dead or diseased branches to keep them healthy. In addition, some shrubs and trees have such a dense growth pattern that removing some branches will allow greater air circulation for better growth. Pruning saws come in a handful of types. Some are designed to trim thick branches, while others are more suitable for narrower stems. A few factors are worth considering when choosing one to keep your greenery looking its best.
While pruning saws all have the same purpose—to allow the user to quickly and efficiently sever a branch—differences in design make some types better than others for specific trimming chores.
- Hand saws: Also called “non-folding saws,” these saws are what most envision when thinking of a pruning saw. A hand pruning saw features a non-folding blade that can be straight or slightly curved and comes in various lengths.
- Folding: Handy for keeping in a tool box or tool pouch without worrying about grabbing a sharp blade, folding pruning saws lock into a straight position for work and then fold for storage.
- Pole: For reaching upper limbs, a pole pruning saw is just the ticket. It allows the user to extend the blade either by expanding a telescoping pole or by attaching an independent utility pole to the saw.
- Powered: A few pruning saws are powered by rechargeable batteries, or they’re corded electric models. With a powered version, the only physical labor required is to position the saw and gather up the fallen branches.
When it comes to pruning saws, the saw blade is the star of the show. Specific materials and blade configurations will determine the quality and best usage.
- Length: The average blade length on a pruning saw is between 3 inches and 15 inches, with 6 inches and 9 inches being the most common.
- Curved or straight: A pruning saw with a straight blade is well suited for making cuts in the vicinity of the user’s torso or waist because that’s where the user is able to generate the most power. Curved blades are better suited to making overhead or low cuts because the curved blade helps hold the saw in place.
- Material: Most pruning saw blades are made from steel and high-carbon steel. In general, the more carbon in the steel, the harder the blade will be. High-carbon steel is prone to rusting over time, however, so the blade should be coated or plated to protect it. Impulse-hardened steel is among the most robust processes for making saw blades, and it results in saw teeth that remain sharper, longer.
The tooth configuration on a pruning saw blade will determine whether it cuts with a pulling action or with a pushing action—or both. If the teeth slope forward, the blade cuts on the pull stroke; if they slope backward, it cuts on the push stroke. If the teeth extend straight out, the blade will cut on either the push or pull stroke.
The number of teeth will also make a difference. Some pruning saws (not all) are labeled by the number of teeth per inch (TPI), and most pruning saws have been 3 and 24 TPI. The lower the TPI, the quicker and more aggressive the blade will cut, but it can leave rough ends on the branch. The higher the TPI, the longer it takes to cut, but the smoother the cut branch will be.
How long the user can prune branches without suffering from hand fatigue depends significantly on the saw’s handle. A high-quality grip designed to fit the shape of the hand (ergonomic) reduces fatigue and soreness in the hand and wrist. A nonslip grip is also desirable.
Pruning saw handles often feature pistol grips, whereby the user’s hand wraps over the handle with the fingers beneath. This is suitable for most pruning tasks, but a traditional saw grip allows the user to use push or pull force for bigger cutting tasks.
The best weight for a pruning saw will depend on the user. Saw weight varies from a few ounces up to about 3 pounds or more. The heavier a saw is, the more stable it will be, but the more quickly it will lead to hand and arm fatigue, especially if used overhead. Lightweight pruning saws are easier to maneuver, but the user may need to exert more downward pressure when sawing to cut through a branch.
All saw blades are sharp and present a risk of injury, especially powered models. Non-powered pruning saws are safer, but grabbing a sharp blade when digging for a tool in a tool box can still be a painful experience. For that reason, some pruning saw manufacturers include a locking mechanism on folding saws to keep the blade safely tucked away until it’s ready to use. Other pruning saws may come with a scabbard or a sheath that allows the user to store the pruning saw safely in its case—often on a belt loop—for quick retrieval.
Tips for Using a Pruning Saw
A good-quality pruning saw will help make clean cuts for shaping trees and shrubs, but a few tips can make the project quicker, safer, and simpler. Before getting started, be sure to have the correct gear—work gloves, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and protective eyewear.
- Put gravity to work for you and cut from the top of a branch downward.
- To keep a heavy branch from experiencing a jagged tear at the bottom when completing the cut, saw a notch on the bottom of the branch with the pruning saw. Then, when the pruning saw nears the notch, the branch will break away in the notch rather than pulling and tearing off a ragged section of bark.
- Cut with quick, brisk strokes to keep the blade from becoming lodged in the cut.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, a pruning saw needs to be durable, well made, and come with a sharp, high-quality blade. While the best pruning saw for your needs will ultimately depend on the type of pruning to be done, all of the following models excel at making cuts.
With its 15-inch curved blade made from precision-ground steel, the Fiskars Pruning Saw offers plenty of durability and strength. The gently curved blade makes it well suited to trimming away branches both overhead and in low areas. Its straight teeth can cut on either the push or pull stroke, and the trademarked Power Tooth blade is great for making sharp, clean cuts.
A nonslip ergonomic handle and light weight (less than 1 pound) reduce hand and arm fatigue, and a pistol grip allows for added control. With the attached handle, the entire saw is 21.62 inches long.
The razor-sharp teeth on the TABOR TOOLS Pruning Saw are designed to cut on the pull stroke, and the saw comes with a straight 10-inch blade, making it suitable for trimming branches anywhere from waist to shoulder height with ease. This sturdy yet lightweight saw (less than a pound) comes with a nonslip ergonomic grip, and its total length—from blade tip to handle tip—is 18.5 inches, making it suitable for carrying in most portable tool boxes.
The TABOR TOOLS pruning saw also comes with a protective scabbard that attaches to a belt for easy carrying and accessibility. This pruner can be used to cut branches up to 4 inches in diameter.
Weekend landscapers need not spend a fortune for a good-quality pruning saw to get unruly shrubs in shape. The REXBETI Pruning Saw comes with a straight 8-inch blade with wide-set 7-TPI teeth for making quick work of trimming away unwanted branches. The REXBETI saw blade is made from durable SK-5 steel for long-lasting sharpness and durability.
This pruning saw cuts on either a pull or a push stroke, and it features a nonslip, rubbery grip for comfort. When not in use, the saw blade folds away in the handle, making it easy to carry the saw in a backpack or tool belt, if desired. Best of all—it comes at an attractive price point.
Designed to cut more substantial branches—up to 10 inches in diameter—the Corona Curved Blade Pruning Saw is a powerful tool. The ergonomic grip is reminiscent of saws used to hand-cut lumber, and it puts the user’s wrist in a straight position while sawing, which maximizes the sawing motion. An ample 18-inch blade can handle heavy-duty jobs, and it’s made from SK-5, impulse-hardened steel to resist dulling. A chrome coating adds further rust resistance and performance.
From handle to blade tip, the saw measures a total of 23.25 inches, making this pruning saw well suited for the hobby orchardist or frequent tree trimmer.
Skip the wobbly ladder and reach higher when pruning branches with the DocaPole “GoSaw.” This handy saw can also be used as a hand saw for trimming branches at chest height. The GoSaw features an acme-threaded handle that accepts a retractable DocaPole (sold separately), but it also fits other acme-threaded poles, such as the ones used in push brooms and paint rollers.
The GoSaw comes with a super-sharp 13-inch precision-ground blade that cuts on both the pull and the push stroke. When no pole is attached, the GoSaw doubles as a hand saw with an ergonomic over-grip handle. This saw is designed for light pruning duty and will cut smoothly through small limbs and branches.
When folded into its protective sheath, the Corona Pruning Saw measures a mere 12 inches long, making it small enough to carry it in a backpack or tool belt. Unfolded, the 10-inch impulse-hardened steel blade on the saw features razor-sharp teeth that can cut through branches up to 6 inches in diameter, making it a valuable tool for gathering firewood when camping as well as for pruning trees and shrubs at home.
At 6 TPI, this folding pruning saw aggressively cuts through branches, although it may not leave the smoothest cut ends. The sheath does double duty as an ergonomic handle, and the slightly curved saw blade is designed to cut on the pull stroke.
Shoppers who opt for this chrome-plated, rust-resistant pruning saw from Samurai will also get a protective scabbard. In addition to offering a practical way to keep the blade in good shape and protect users from injuries, the scabbard also includes a belt loop so users can carry the saw with them and still keep their hands free for other tasks.
A curved, impulse-hardened steel blade makes overhead cutting easier, while a padded, nonslip ergonomic handle is designed to reduce hand fatigue.
This particular saw cuts on the pull stroke, and its precision cutting ability creates smooth end cuts that are desirable on living trees. From the tip of the blade to the end of the handle, the Samurai pruning saw measures 20.5 inches.
Although it’s just 7.7 inches long, the anti-rust, low-friction steel blade on this folding pruning saw is designed to cut through branches up to 4 inches in diameter. The FLORA GUARD cuts on both the push stroke and the pull stroke, making it well suited for quickly trimming away smaller branches.
A padded, nonslip ergonomic handle makes it easy to grasp the saw firmly, while a secure locking button keeps the blade from unfolding when stored. The button also serves to lock the blade at various angles for cutting in tight spots. The end of the handle comes with an eyelet that can be used with a clip to hold the saw on a belt loop.
Extend cutting reach without the need to climb on a ladder with the HOSKO 10-Foot Tree Trimming and Pruning Saw. This pruning saw can be used with or without the included telescoping pole, and it features a hardened steel blade that measures 12 inches long. A slight curve in the blade helps the user generate more power when cutting overhead, and a strategically placed hook at the tip of the blade helps pull loose branches out of trees.
The HOSKO saw cuts on both the push and the pull stroke and comes with an ergonomic handle to help reduce hand fatigue. The telescoping pole is adjustable, allowing the user to add or remove sections to reach the desired height.
FAQs About Pruning Saws
At some point, most trees and shrubs need a little pruning to keep them healthy and looking good. For those who may be familiar with pruning shears or loppers but are ready to move up to a more aggressive cutting tool, some questions about pruning saws are to be expected.
Q. What size pruning saw do I need?
As a general rule, choose a pruning saw with a blade that’s double the diameter of the branches you’ll be cutting. For example, choose a saw with at least a 10-inch blade to cut branches up to 5 inches in diameter.
Q. Why are some pruning saws curved?
The curved design makes it easier to saw through low branches as well as those that are overhead.
Q. How do I sharpen a pruning saw?
A lot of today’s pruning saws cannot be sharpened. This is because they’re made from carbon steel and plated to reduce rusting. Sharpening would remove the plating.
Q. How do I clean a pruning saw?
Wipe the blade down to remove any sap or residue after use and dry it. Optional: apply a thin layer of mineral oil to the saw blade to protect it before storing it over winter.
Trees and shrubs can boost curb appeal—but not if they’re overgrown or blocking windows. Keeping a landscape tidy requires more than one tool, but among the best for trimming small branches and shrubs is the trusty pruning saw. Pruning saws are well suited for cutting branches that are too thick to cut with pruning shears or loppers, and they’re the tool of choice for cutting overhead because they require just one hand to operate.