Your Guide to Better Pruning Tools
Pruning your bushes, trees and shrubs has never been easier, but sometimes it’s hard to see exactly how. Sure, all the pruning gear looks great on the shelves, but how will it perform when you get home? Steve Maxwell, casaGURU’s home improvement guru, cuts through the bushes and mediocre gardening tools.
Cutting off branches and limbs is important for optimizing trees and bushes, but it’s also where Canadian gardeners struggle the most. Wood is hard, and this can make pruning physically difficult unless you’re properly equipped.
Gardena StarCut 160 BL
There’s been more than the usual amount of innovation in the pruning tool scene lately, and one of the best examples doesn’t look like anything special. In fact, until I used it, the Gardena StarCut 160 BL seemed rather silly. Made mostly of plastic, it didn’t look as impressive as the all-metal professional pruners we’ve used for years.
The StarCut is rated to handle branches up to 1 1/2 inches thick, and I know from experience that it takes a lot of muscle to make a regular pair of scissor-style loppers chew through that much wood.
So how could pulling down on a plastic handle ever live up to this same challenge? They were and then more.
StarCuts has some great innovations that makes it less tiring to use, including:
- It’s a 62-inch-long straight staff with a set of swiveling pruner jaws at one end.
- There are no arms to work back and forth, just a small, plastic tee-handle.
- This handle is connected to the jaws by a woven cord, and this is where my doubts came from.
- With one cut the StarCut changed my mind. And it showed me something that I should have noticed before.
The Beauty of Leverage
But the real genius behind the StarCut is leverage. That’s what put a smile on my face the first time I used it. Among its highlights:
- It takes a 19-inch long pull on the handle to make the jaws move 1 1/2 inches to close and this is why the tool is so very easy to operate. Remarkably easy.
- Besides the fact that it let’s you reach and prune branches that are more than 10 feet high, the StarCut takes a very small amount of strength to use.
- On branches 3/4-inch in diameter or less, you hardly even know you’re cutting.
- The tool also has a secondary handle mounted in the middle of the tool for trimming shorter branches when you don’t need the full reach of the shaft.
Fiskars Power Gear
Instead of an ordinary pair of rigid handles, the Fiskars has a swiveling bottom handle. It rotates as it pivots while you close the tool with your hand, and this action offers two benefits:
- Rolling eliminates friction between your fingers and the handle surface. The handle rolls with your skin instead of sliding against it, reducing blisters.
- The end of the rolling handle engages with the body of the pruners via a rack-and-pinion gear assembly. This feature converts the rolling action of the handle into additional slicing force at the jaws.
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