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Good Pruning Tools Make Job Easier

Posted Feb. 1, 2003

We are all looking forward to our new group of graduates and newlyweds, but sometimes they are difficult to buy for. We can be proud of them and show how much we think of them by purchasing gifts they can use and really appreciate. I have used a few quality hand tools for pruning and would like to share some of them with you at this time. Pruning is a chore with loppers that are not sharp or that don't cut properly a sharp blade makes pruning easier and less time consuming. If you have to cut the same site on the limb a second time, the loppers are not working properly. Be sure to purchase the by-pass type (scissor-type cutting action) loppers, for which you will pay in the range of $30 to $50 (see Photo 1). Generally these have a hooked blade, and they should be the type that can be tightened and sharpened. The handles should measure at least 26 inches.

For bigger limbs, a saw would be nice to have to finish the job that has been started. Here are a few examples of hand tools that have been great on residential grounds. One is a folding saw that has a cutting edge of 8 to 12 inches. Some of the newer blade designs have the teeth set inside instead of outside, resulting in less drag and friction. This small design is handy but should not be sold short of ability to get into tight spots and remove a limb. This makes an excellent fishing, camping and backpacking gift and is a must for most sportsmen (and sportswomen). The price ranges from $15 to $30. If the previous saw sounds too small, and you don't need the handy folding blade, step up to a 24-inch bow saw to do the work around the house. A rusty, dull blade makes this tool inoperative, so be sure to have spare blades for this tool to get the real precision cuts. This saw ranges from $20 to $35 with extra blades (see Photo 2).

For bigger limbs, an electric saw may fit the bill. The past ice and windstorms have made me a believer in this tool. I have had more than one experience pulling the starter rope on the two-cycle engine chainsaws. No more mixing gas and oil with an electric saw, and most of the electric saws are lighter and smaller, not to mention quieter. An oil reservoir for the chain bar will have to be filled occasionally. These range from $70 to $125.

As I have gotten older, I have acquired a fear of ladders, and I truly enjoy the gravitational pull as I stand on the ground. In the past years, I have used a pole pruner with an interchangeable lopper head. This can be used with one six-foot fiberglass section or all three sections. Either head works well from the ground level. The lopper head is activated by pulling a rope at ground level that is attached to a lever that closes the scissor-type action. Prices range from $70 to $180.

Remember to make those cuts close to the main limb such that a stub is not left after the pruning is completed. Studies have shown that pruning paint is not necessary if pruning is done correctly. The dormant season is the time of year to do the pruning of trees and most shrubbery. It is not too late, February is an excellent time to finish up that pruning job. So go ahead and purchase that tool you have been putting off, and buy an extra for that grad or newlywed. Give the enjoyment of a quality tool for use in the outdoors they will remember you every time they use the tool.