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|Various kinds of cutting pruning
tools are necessary for a would-be pruner. The simplest is a pruning
knife. It is still the best tool for cutting with the least amount
of injury to the plant. The one pictured is an old friend which I
acquired almost sixty years ago. Its defects are: it is a dangerous
tool in the hands of the unskilled or careless worker and it is slow.
pruning shears (secateurs) usually are fitted with a spring so that
they open automatically and with a safety catch to keep them closed
when not in use. The catch is often put at the end of the handles.
This is just the right place to give the operator a blood blister,
so I prefer shears with the catch near the pivot or cutting end.
Two types are commonly in use, one which cuts down on an "anvil"
made of comparatively soft metal or polyethylene, another in which
the cutting blade passes a heavy, curved hook.
Next in line are lopping shears. These
are two-handled with the handles 2 to 2 1/2 feet long. They can
cut soft green wood up to 1 inch in diameter. Lopping shears of
this kind are also available with a compound lever attachment which
greatly magnifies the power, so that they are capable of cutting
branches up to 1 1/2 or even 2 inches.
Lopping shears are useful especially
when cutting out old wood from spiny subjects, such as Rosa hugonis
and other rose species, and for pruning Blackberries, Raspberries,
and Gooseberries, because they enable the operator to outwit their
sometimes vicious thorns. They also are useful because the operator
is given an extra 2 feet or so, which is especially valuable when
cutting out overhanging tree branches.
Hedge shears are not pruning tools
per se. Ordinarily they are to be used only for cutting hedges.
Usually the over-all length of these shears is about 2 feet, but
it is possible to get them with longer handles so that the over-all
length is 38 inches. Anyone with 100 feet or more of hedge to be
clipped should look into the possibility of using electrically operated
shears. These can do the job in about one fourth the time required
for manually operated hedge shears.
- Shears with passing-type blade
with catch at the end of the handles.
- Shears with passing-type blade
with catch near the pivot.
- Anvil-type hand pruner with
catch near the pivot.
Then there is the pole pruner, which is
operated by a rope and pulley or by a metal rod. These usually are about
8 feet long with an extension pole of about 4 feet that can be added if
In the rope-and-pulley kinds the jaws are
opened by a coil spring which has to be powerful enough to do the job,
and when cutting a branch the operator has to pull against the spring
as well as overcome the resistance of the branch that is being cut off.
There is no spring in the case of those that are operated by a metal rod.
These demand a little more care on the part of the operator to avoid buckling
in case the blade gets jammed, which might happen if the tool is used
on extraordinarily tough wood.
The pole pruning saw is limited in use to
the cutting off of rigid branches; some branches are so wobbly that it
is impossible to keep the saw in the original cuts. It is a valuable tool
for removing water sprouts. The teeth are wide-set and usually are pointed
toward the operator. The blade is curved and can be attached to the pole
at various angles, or the saw may be removed from the pole and used as
ordinary carpenter's saw is not too good for cutting off living
limbs because the teeth become so gummed up with the soft moist
sawdust that they bind, whereas the pruning saws have "wide-set"
teeth which make the cut wider than the thickness of the blade and
so there is no danger of their becoming jammed.
Pruning saws vary in shape and size.
You probably will decide that you need at least two—one with
a narrow blade and one with a broad one. If you have a pole saw
of the socket type, it can be detached from the pole and serve as
a substitute for the saws which look like the small compass or keyhole
saws used by carpenters.
For cutting large limbs you can get
a saw with a blade 24 or 28 inches long or you may prefer the bracket-type
saw. This has the advantage of a detachable blade which can be removed
for sharpening and a spare one may be put in its place. The kind
illustrated can be set at any angle by loosening a thumbscrew. For
larger work the one shown, which has a 30-inch blade, and which
looks like a conventional carpenter's saw except for the teeth,
can be used.
The tree expert's saw has the teeth
pointing away from the operator. Many of the saws designed for pruning
living wood have the teeth pointing in the opposite direction, toward
the operator, so that they work on the downstroke. This is a big
advantage, especially in the pole saws, because there is one strike
against you—the pull of gravity, which is considerable—that
must be overcome.
- A good type of saw for cutting
- Bracket-tijpe saw
- Mattock. For chopping off suckers
It is a good plan to see and handle these
tools before making a purchase. It is essential, in the case of saws,
that the opening in the handle be large enough to fit your hand, especially
if you wear gloves when you are working.
Tools that are of occasional use include mattock, spade, and axe.