What are secateurs and how to use them safely

Published November 3, 2018

Secateurs, also known as pruning shears or hand prunes, are a type of scissors used on plants. They are strong enough to cut off hard branches from trees and shrubs. They at times prune branches with thicknesses of up to two centimeters.

Secateurs are commonly used in gardening, farming flower arranging, arboriculture, and nature conservation where there is a need for fine-scale habitat management. Read on to learn more about what are secateurs and how to use them safely.

Types of secateurs

There are two main types of blade. These include the Bypass (left) and the anvil (right) Secateurs. Bypass Secateurs have two blades and function like a pair of scissors as blades pass over each other to make a cut. These are suitable for cutting off delicate stems since the action is less likely to bruise the stem.

Anvil secateurs, on the other hand, have one blade that closes on to a flat surface. These are better for cutting off hard woody stems since the blade has minimal chances of sticking to the stem when cutting.

Other types of Secateurs you can choose from include:

Ratchet action Secateurs: these Secateurs have a ratchet mechanism that makes it possible for one to cut by squeezing and releasing handles a couple of times until the stem is pruned. Every time when one squeezes and releases the handle, the mechanism clicks and holds in place for gradual progress instead of cutting in a go. This requires less force and is only available with anvil blades.

  • Geared and power lever Secateurs: This model has a mechanical action that eases cutting through the stem. They are easy to use and are available both anvil and bypass blades.
  • Cut and hold Secateurs: These are Secateurs that hold on the stem being cut, such that it does not fall into the ground. While using this, you will not have to bend to pick up cuttings.

How to use secateurs safely

  • Choose the perfect cut location: To know the best cut location, line up the blade with your cutting site. For bypass pruners, the blade passes to the side of its thick base and the exact spot which the blade comes through shifts about 1/4″ once the tool is flipped. If you are cutting close to the main stem, you probably will feel the need to use the pruner upside down.
  • Choose the correct angle: In case the plant you are pruning is opposite-branching, you ought to directly cut across the stem, above the node. For alternate-branching, you can cut across, but it can even bear better results if you cut on an angle that slopes away from the node’s bud. This will drain rainwater from the bud, leaving none trapped on the stem or crotch.
  • Have wood deep into pruners: Open your pruners completely, getting the branches all the way in. while it could be tempting to snip-snip wood as if your pruners were scissors, avoid it as this is a weaker cutting method which could end up stressing your hands or dulling the blade tip.
  • Do a good cutting: Once the wood is properly positioned, close loppers through the branch in a single fluid motion.

Other safety measures to observe are:

  • Work comfortably to avoid fatigue, repetitive injuries, and soreness.
  • Use a belt holster on your pruners for easy access.
  • Avoid cutting wires with your Secateurs as this could end up thickening your blade.
  • For a long life, keep your blades sharp and clean.

Now you know how to effectively use Secateurs. The success in having your pruning accurate though lies on the blades you use. As you make your purchase, make sure you choose the best.

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