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How to choose the right Secateurs / Hand Pruners

First off, it's wise to purchase the best quality Secateurs/Hand Pruners you can afford. Secondly, it's ideal to keep them as sharp as possible at all times – a light dressing with a small industrial flat file on the main cutting blade prior to use, and a light lubrication at the pivot bolt area is invaluable.

Which Secateurs or Hand Pruners are best for you?

Secateurs/Hand Pruners are the number one tool you will use in your garden. Pruning is always rather a tricky subject to get your head around when you’re a novice, but with a bit of time studying the plant you need pruning you’ll be amazed at your handy work. Like everything in and around the garden, it’s about using the right tool for the right job, and Secateurs are no exception. 

To help work out which way to prune you need to choose between the two main styles and cutting affects. Both types of Secateurs/Pruners are designed for easy pruning around the garden or for different types of professional use. The anvil and bypass cutting actions are completely different – and for good reason.

Anvil Blade Secateurs/Pruners

Anvil Blade Secateurs/Pruners have one sharpened top blade that cuts down on a flat soft metal block, they work like a chopping board. Anvil Blade Secateurs/Pruners allow for very precise cutting and are great for cutting away old wood stems. The flat soft metal block helps control the cut accurately through the wood, more-so than the bypass types. Although Anvil blades are excellent on dead wood, they are best used where the plant is still alive and an accurate clean cut is required. Anvil cutting cuts cleanly with no bark-tearing which can cause disease or rot to enter the plant wound, particularly when pruning new growth on delicate plants during the summer months. Anvil blades can be used successfully with all and every pruning action.

By-pass Blade Secateurs/Pruners


By-pass Blade Secateurs/Pruners have two sharpened blades. The top blade is thin and razor sharp. The bottom blade is curve shaped and has a high sharpened angle to create a guillotine effect as the blades by-pass each other. They work rather like a pair of scissors. By-pass Secateurs/Pruners are by far more familiar and more widely used. Their better tapered and pointed shape allows them to be used in close quarters as well as in awkward cutting places such as beside stay wires. This makes them extremely versatile compared to the Anvil blade types. By-pass Secateurs/Pruners are the preferred type for high speed professional pruning such as viticulture and Kiwifruit pruning. While it’s great to own both types, By-Pass Secateurs/Pruners would have to be the universal choice.  

The more ergonomic the design, the better. Place the Secateurs in your hands, the less you have to move your wrist forward and down the better. The Pruners are easiest to use when cutting directly forward and in front of you. The new styles have a pronounced ‘hump’ on the top handle. These types have been engineered with this ease-of-use in mind. The more expensive types have been engineered with a lower ‘Roll-Handle’. This makes for very easy use and far less strain on the operator’s hand (low RSI), particularly for professional use.

The range of Secateurs on the market can be mind-blowing. Wright's Outdoor Equipment Centre have chosen the best quality, value for money brands we can find.

The secret of great engineering is to get the pivot-angle correct for the purpose or main use of the Secateurs/Pruners.

Quality checklist before purchasing your Secateurs/Pruners :

 European, Japanese or Taiwanese brands generally make the best quality.

 Blade opening should be around 45-50mm.

 Handle opening should be around 155-160mm.

 Choose a version that fits your hand.

 Cutting capacity of around 20-22mm max.

 Drop-forged, heat-treated hardened and tempered high carbon steel blade(s).

 Certified International Hardness rating of between 51-53 on the recognized HRC scale.

 Hard chrome finish (some Teflon coatings have proved OK).

 Gum grooves to stop sticking.

 Super comfort grip with ergonomic hump top design.

 Designed for heavy-duty commercial use.

 Bolted, not riveted together for easy blade replacement.

 At least a two year or more Commercial Warranty.

 Can be easily dismantled for servicing and precision sharpening.

Try to avoid the following:

  Avoid nylon or plastic main bodies, unless designed for commercial use.

 Avoid cast alloy bodies with slotted-in blades, unless designed for commercial use.

 Avoid any Secateurs/Pruners that fail the rolled up paper test (see lightbulb tip below).

There are a huge range of Secateurs/Pruners that look great, but alas are only junk. Price will tend to dictate the quality end of the market. Once you’ve taken the plunge at the quality end, you’ll never complain about bad Secateurs/Pruners again.

 Dampen your hands and roll up a tissue tightly about the size of a fat cigarette. Use the point of the Secateurs/Pruners to cut the paper roll. If the blades do not spread apart, you can assume the quality is very good. If, however they do spread apart they will be at the low quality end of the market. No matter how nice they look, we believe buying this poor quality is a waste of your money. All Wright’s Secateurs/Pruners pass the rolled up paper test!

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