Our Famous Yearly Pruning Saw Review


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Holiday cheer at Widsnow.com includes saw testing.

Holiday cheer at Widsnow.com includes saw testing. Ace model in use, Fiskars on snow to left.

It’s not the Ultimate Ski Quiver — just a handful of saws. Nonetheless it is surprising how many backcountry skiers use pruning saws for various purposes. Most sled skiers I know carry one to remove smaller downed trees that block winter trails, and yearly Christmas tree and wreath gathering requires tooling. (Check local rules and regulations and if necessary acquire firewood, Christmas tree or “defensible space clearing” permits before unfolding your saw on public land.)

We’ve got a few saws kicking around here. Did some recent Christmas tree cutting, thought a review would be fun.

We tested three retractable-folding pruning saws.

We tested three retractable-folding pruning saws. From left to right: 'GardenPlus' from Lowe's, Fiskars from a hardware store, and a big folder from Ace that has a curved blade and knuckle protector.

The saw from Lowe’s is too flimsy and the teeth are too small. It’s heavy as well at 8.6 ounces even though it has the shortest blade of our testers.

The long bladed offering from Ace looks good when you’re shopping, but disappoints. We saw no real reason for the knuckle protection and resulting bulk when folded. More importantly, it cut less effectively than we expected. Adding insult, 10 ounces is too much mass for a saw with just a 10 inch blade.

Fiskars can be set to shortened blade length as shown here, or full 10 inches.

Fiskars can be set to shortened blade length as shown here, or full 10 inches.

Clear winner is the Fiskars. The 10 inch blade quickly slides in and out of the handle (no fumbling with folding) and locks securely with a threaded knob. More importantly, it cut better than the other two saws and is the lightest of the bunch at 6.9 ounces. Three thumbs up.

If you’re looking for Christmas gifts, this could be a nice one for the backcountry guy or girl. (New version as shown in Amazon link has a “carabiner” type hang clip which is actually pretty nice and adds little to no weight.)

Fiskars retracts to a nice form factor for packing.

Fiskars retracts to a nice form factor for packing.

Comments

24 Responses to “Our Famous Yearly Pruning Saw Review”

  1. Jody December 12th, 2012 10:47 am

    Thank you for the idea, I know what I’m getting my woodsman for Xmas. Cheers!

  2. JR December 12th, 2012 10:59 am

    I have had one of these folding saws from SOG for a few years and love it!

    http://sogknives.com/store/F10.html

  3. Halsted December 12th, 2012 11:08 am

    I have used the G3 Bonesaw a lot for utting helicopter LZ’s and doing snowpit work. It is a great saw. It cuts quickly, smoothly, is long, has a good sheath cover and is light. I like it a lot better the my older SOS folding saw, that looks like the ACE saw in your photos.

  4. Clyde December 12th, 2012 1:08 pm

    When it comes to pruning saws, there’s Silky and then there’s all the rest. I like the red Pocektboy for portability. Lots of length and tooth size options, great designs, superb quality.
    http://www.silkysaws.com/Silky_Saws/Folding-Straight_2

  5. Andy December 12th, 2012 2:29 pm

    I prefer the classic sven saw. It takes a minute to put together, but cuts well.

    http://www.svensaw.com/

  6. Jody December 12th, 2012 2:43 pm

    Hey now you’re making it confusing. :) But good to hear the feedback in case I can’t find a particular one.

  7. Dillon December 12th, 2012 2:51 pm

    Clydes right. Silky is the best by a wide margin. That said, Fiskars are great as well. Off topic, but if you heat with wood and don’t own a Fiskars x27 splitting axe, I pity you. They’re awesome.

  8. Bruno December 12th, 2012 3:10 pm

    Stay away from the ACE model. I’ve broken a couple. They have a life-time guarantee, but they are also very under-designed. A small piece of plastic that acts as a stop when the blade is open fails. Of course I’ve used mine to cut 18″ diameter dead lodge pole (repeatedly) – but still.

    I prefer Fiskars 18″ fixed blade. About 27oz. The blade could be shaper, but it can get after real trees.

  9. Rob S December 12th, 2012 3:16 pm

    This is what I love about WildSnow…..Lou could post a review of convenience store coffee, and it would still generate spirited debate!

  10. Kevin December 12th, 2012 3:30 pm

    Another vote for Silky – pay attention to teeth-per-inch number though, higher numbers are great for shaping exotic landscaping, lowest number better for BC hacking. That said, the “Gerber Exchange a blade – folding saw” is what’s normally in my pack. It’s packaged with two blades one coarse & one fine.

    I also have this in the car/canoe camp bin as it easily handles bigger material but still folds to a surprisingly small size – it’s harder to find though. http://www.knifecenter.com/item/GB000232/Gerber-Double-Joint-Folding-Gator-Saw-13-inch-Blade-Fold-In-Handle

  11. Pietro December 12th, 2012 4:13 pm

    The best one i’ve used for many years is the STHILL pruning saw (foldable). Around 30$, it is deadly sharp. You can cut trough a 6″ tree in a couple of minute. Pine trees are cut in a few seconds. The only negative point is that it canot be sharpen.

  12. XXX_er December 12th, 2012 5:04 pm

    we used 3 of those 6 ” Fiskar saws on 1133 trees in the ” juveniles in the understory” research project, each tree was done twice for the D10 sample and the saws are bomber enough that we can still use them in comparison to a folding saw I bought last year which failed at the joint …the weak link IME

    I like the 6″ saw for my hill saw because it fits in a coat pocket so if I am lapping an area and see a branch in the wrong place it is more likely be corrected if I have the saw handy

  13. aaron trowbridge December 12th, 2012 5:26 pm

    Hmm, I think I know who XXX_er is based on that comment ;). I like longer fixed blades that double as snow pit saw, Silkly is my current, although I use the fiskar too in the summer when I don’t need snow pit length.

  14. Peter R December 12th, 2012 6:26 pm

    There are saws and then there are saws. Lou’s selection of pruning saws all appeared to be the Japaneese style, which cuts on the pull stroke. Avoid the North American/ European style saws that cut on the push stroke, as they bind more often.

  15. George December 12th, 2012 7:22 pm

    Fiskar or similar light saws double as elk pelvis bone splitters.

  16. John Gloor December 12th, 2012 8:21 pm

    This is the saw you want if you know you will be cutting real trees. Two guys alternating can get through a 12″ tree in a few minutes.http://www.silkysaws.com/Silky_Saws/Folding-Curved_2/Bigboy-2000-XL-Teeth
    It is more of a sled/moto tool though

  17. Nick December 13th, 2012 8:09 am

    Seconded on the Silky Bigboy John mentions above. Did some trail clearing work this summer with a friend. He had the big boy, I brought a fiskars. After a few minutes, I put mine away and just helped clear after his cuts. No point in using the dinky little saw. A longer saw cuts so much faster and easier, not to mention it can take on larger diameters.

    If you really want to get stuff cleared:
    http://www.silkysaws.com/Silky_Saws/Wood-Working-Saws/KATANABOY-with-500-extra-large-teeth

    Of course, if you’re just pruning, I guess the fiskars will work.

  18. John J December 13th, 2012 8:42 am

    I got one from Stanley that uses sawzall blades. I like that because it allows you to choose the type of blade you want to use, and replacement blades are easy to get. It folds and has storage in the handle for blades up to 6″ long (and that is the longest blade that will fold into the handle). It weighs under half a pound on my cheap scale.

    This saw is on the lighter duty end of the scale, but has held up to light use by me for several years. As XXX’er pointed out, it is great to carry in your pocket for unplanned pruning.

  19. Lou Dawson December 13th, 2012 8:57 am

    John, I’ve got one of those sawzall blade saws as well. The problem with them is you’re using a blade designed for lots of power, but trying to do it with arm muscle. They work, but the saws designed for hand cutting work much better. Just an FYI. For moderate cutting of smaller stuff, anything works.

  20. John J December 13th, 2012 9:00 am

    “moderate cutting of smaller stuff” Yup, that’s what I do with it. I can see that that’s not what most people here are talking about.

  21. jamie t December 13th, 2012 11:06 am

    Lou, I have Coghlan’s sierra saw it’s a dandy, light, durable, very sharp, secure blade lock and not very expensive, can be had around these parts (PNW) for 12 or 15 dollars. Handles all manner of sawing job, from wood to bone.

  22. Dave December 13th, 2012 4:41 pm

    I’ve been using a Tashiro Zeta Folding Pocket Saw for my backcountry exploits (www.tashirohardware.com). The handle is interchangable with other high end Japanese rip, fine joint, timber, flush cut, hacksaw and a variety of other
    blades suitable for the Monday morning million dollar McMansion construction work scene. Only one broken blade and much abuse!

  23. Amy December 13th, 2012 9:40 pm

    Lou – are you wearing XTRA Tuffs? THE standard boot for all southeast Alaskans?

  24. JP December 15th, 2012 7:52 pm

    I have to add to Nick and John posts that the Silky Bigboy is one of the only folding saw that can double as a snowpit saw. Very recommended.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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