Pruning is something a lot of us neglect. Every summer, especially if you’re in a tropical or subtropical climate, there’s an explosion of plant growth that seems to come out of nowhere. One minute you’re admiring your small decorative olive tree, the next minute it’s a great behemoth towering over your house.
There are many ways to prune and shape trees. The easiest is to stop them from getting to the stage that they’re unmanageable by regularly trimming fresh growth with a pair of pruning shears. But once the twigs turn into branches, and your shears aren’t up for the job, you’re going to need something a little tougher.
You could use a nata axe. They are fantastic for pruning. Their unique design is perfect for taking branches right off the trunk – you can even chop down small trees with them. But not everyone is comfortable swinging around a very sharp blade in the garden.
If you want something perhaps a little safer, less physically demanding, and easier to maneuver in areas without swinging room, then a pruning saw is your best option.
How To Choose A Pruning Saw
Blade Length: Pruning saw blades tend to fall somewhere between 180mm and 270mm. The blade you need depends a lot on what you intend to cut. As a general rule of thumb, the cutting capacity of a saw is around half of its blade’s length. So a 180mm (~7”) pruning saw can comfortably cut branches up to about 90mm (~3.5”), and a 270mm (~10”) saw can cut branches up to about 135mm (~5”).
Blade Shape: Whether you choose a curved blade saw or a straight blade saw is important, but it’s very easy to decide which one you need. Do you want your cuts to end up clean and neat? Will you rarely cut above your head or below your waist? Get a straight blade saw. Do you want to cut through a lot of thick branches quickly? Do you want to cut branches from all angles? Get a curved blade saw.
Manufacturer: There are plenty of great pruning saw manufacturers, and plenty of not-so-great ones. As a general rule, when it comes to hand tools, you’re going to want to go with something Japanese, Finnish, Swiss, German, or American. There are a few brands that really stand out in the pruning saw world that you know you can trust. They are: Silky, ARS, Fiskar's, and Corona.
- Body Type: What’s more important to you, stability and durability, or comfort and convenience? A fixed blade saw will typically last a long time, and it will take a lot to break the blade. A curved blade saw folds up to an easy-to-carry and easy-to-store compact size, with its sharp teeth safely tucked away.
The 5 Best Pruning Saws of 2023
Best Folding Pruning Saw
- Sturdy Rubber-Clad Steel Handle
- Chrome-Plated, Impulse-Hardened Teeth
- Two-Position Lockable Blade
- Non-Set Teeth For Smooth Cutting
The Silky Gomboy is Silky’s flagship pruning saw, and one of the most popular pruning saws across the world since its release in 1985. It’s hard to beat in terms of quality, durability, versatility and ease-of-use, and even harder to beat in terms of price – it’s one of the most affordable pruning saws on the market.
The Gomboy has gone through a few changes since its release nearly four decades ago, but it’s essentially the same tool it was when it was released – a powerful, high-quality folding pruning saw with a rubber handle. Even after all this time, it’s still on 2023’s top five pruning saws list.
Silky’s non-set teeth mean that while the teeth do alternate in jutting out left and right, they don’t jut out further than the width of the blade. This makes the cut, and the finish at the end, exceptionally smooth. The non-set teeth, combined with its straight-blade design, results in a very clean cut, and make the Silky Gomboy the best folding pruning saw for decorative trees.
It’s also a versatile saw. Not only can the blade be locked at two different positions for variable cutting, it can also be used on all types of timber. Whereas most pruning saws are only recommended to be used on live, green branches, Silky says their Gomboy is capable of cutting dry lumber too. So you can use it not only as a pruning saw but also as a folding hand saw for woodworking.
Best Fixed Blade Pruning Saw
- Curved Blade For Versatility
- Comes With Lockable Scabbard
- Minimal Force Required To Cut
- Aggressive Tooth Profile For Speed
The Silky Zubat is one of Silky’s professional pruning saws. They created it to be an extremely versatile saw that can cut through a large volume of branches at all angles with speed and efficiency.
The special curve of the Silky Zubat was designed to cut with minimal effort. If you have unstable footing, a bad angle, or you’re cutting above your shoulders and can’t put your full weight into every stroke, the Zubat still has exceptional cutting power.
The Silky Zubat has an aggressive tooth profile compared to other Silky Saws, and this version has the large-tooth configuration, which makes it even more aggressive than the typical Silky Zubat. This saw is one of the fastest pruning saws on the market, and can cut through even thick branches with ease and efficiency.
Adding to the efficiency, its lockable scabbard can be unlocked with a single hand. If you’re up a tree with only one hand to spare, or you want to unsheath your saw and get to cutting as fast as possible, the one-touch scabbard is a great help.
Best Straight Blade Pruning Saw
- Fluorine-Coated Blade For Rust-Resistance
- Two-Position Lockable Blade
- Non-Slip Elastomer Grip
Tajima makes a lot of products, and they make them well. They’re the only brand on our list that doesn’t specialize only in gardening tools. They make tape measures, spirit levels, safety glasses, flashlights, knives, wire strippers, tool belts, drill bits, sockets, saw blades, wood files, and more. They’ve been making an enormous range of tools since 1909, so they’ve become one of the most trusted brands in construction and DIY in Japan.
Even though they don’t specialize in gardening tools, that doesn’t mean their gardening tools aren’t of high quality. Every tool Tajima makes is made well, and the G-Saw 210 is no exception. This is a strong and versatile saw made from high-quality materials, and made to last. Its non-slip elastomer grip ensures safe handling, and its fluorine-coated steel blade cuts through thick branches fast.
This is the only fluorine-coated saw on the list, and that gives it a big performance boost. The special coating ensures that tree sap won’t clog the saw’s teeth, and that the blade can slide smoothly through the material you’re cutting without getting stuck.
Best Curved Blade Pruning Saw
- Curved Blade For Versatile Cutting
- Durable Hard Plastic Case
- Impulse Hardened Blade
- Mirai-Me Teeth For Extremely Smooth Cut
The Silky Gomboy Curve is, you guessed it, a curved blade version of the classic Silky Gomboy. The Gomboy Curve has all the great features of the standard Gomboy. It's high-quality and very durable. It's a powerful folding pruning saw, with a rubber-clad steel handle. It has the same tough, impulse-hardened and non-set teeth. The only functional difference is the curved blade.
Many people prefer a curved blade pruning saw as they’re thought to cut much faster with much less effort than straight bladed saws. At hardware and garden shops around the world, curved blade Gomboy saws are typically sold much more frequently than the classic version. However, just because curved pruning saws are more popular, that doesn’t mean they’re the best option for you.
If you’re going to be pruning trees above your head, or below your waist, then the Gomboy Curve is the perfect saw for you. It’ll cut them faster and more efficiently, with much less effort, than any straight blade pruning saw. However, most of your typical home garden pruning is going to be around chest level. If the majority of your pruning falls somewhere between your eyes and your waist, a curved blade pruning saw is going to be uncomfortable and inefficient, and the Gomboy classic is a better option.
Best Heavy Duty Pruning Saw
- Chrome-Plated High Carbon Steel
- Thickened Spine For Blade Durability
- Japanese Pull Saw For Heavy-Duty Cutting
- Narrow-Set Teeth For Powerful “Grinding” Cut
The ARS Curve Pruning Saw GR-17 was designed for professional use. It uses ARS' Turbocut tooth pitch and set technology to ensure a very sharp cut with less effort required than traditional pruning saw blades. The blade is made of a special high-carbon stainless steel that has been chrome-plated and hardened, making sure that it's super strong, and resists wear and corrosion well.
It cuts on the pull stroke, like Japanese wood saws, making it less likely to break, and requiring less physical effort on each stroke. Its narrow-set teeth “grind” the wood, which gets you through to the other side of the branch in no time, and leaves it looking clean and smooth.
ARS emphasizes safety, and that’s why this pruning saw not only locks when opened but also when folded, ensuring the blade won’t accidentally come out. Its non-slip, high-visibility elastomer grip means you’ll avoid accidents when working.
This is our recommended pruning saw for heavy-duty cutting work, as its durable handle and stronger-than-normal blade makes it last longer, and cut faster than typical pruning saws.