We have plenty of shrubs, plants and even trees on our property that need regular pruning. Without such maintenance, our place would look like a jungle in no time. So we have a rather impressive array of tools to keep our plants in check. One of these is a pair of Ace Hardware Bypass Pruners.
Bypass pruners are designed to cut fresh wood, branches that are still growing and green. These small, hand held pruners can handle branches up to 3/4" in diameter. They have curved shearing blades that sit next to each other, the way the blades of a pair of scissors do. Like most such tools, the bypass pruners are geared for right-handed users. Lefties just have to deal, I guess.
Being made of solid forged steel, they are heavy for their size, but not so heavy as to be onerous. They are spring loaded so that they open easily after each cut. The spring is strong enough to open the pruners nearly to their maximum extension, but not strong enough to provide much resistance when closing the pruners to cut. If the blades get gummed up by sap or pitch though, they will tend to stick to each other. So some simple maintenance is necessary. There's a metal latch to keep the pruners closed, up at the top of the handles, just under the pivot point of the shearing blades. It's a good place for this latch; it's unlikely to get caught on or hit anything and break.
The handles on the bypass pruners are not the pudgy, ergonomic style fatties that have come to dominate so many hand tools, whether in the kitchen or the garden. They do have a slightly rough red rubber coating on them that provides a little bit of cushion and plenty of grip. I was a little worried at first that this would bother my hands as I'm prone to tendinitis and problems with my wrists, and gardening work certainly can contribute to these complaints. But I found that the action of the pruners was exceptionally smooth and easy, and in most cases I don't need to squeeze the handles all that far in order to make my cut. The curved blades are delicate enough and sensitive enough so that I can sometimes use them to grab branches I want to prune and pull them towards myself so that I can cut off a longer length of the branch.
I've pruned forsythia and juniper bushes with these pruners, as well as the forsythia. The pruners worked well on small apple tree suckers, the forsythia bush, and other small tree branches. It can be used as a weeding tool when I don't quite keep on top of the bushier weeds that pop up every year. Overly enthusiastic volunteer maple and locust bean tree seedlings, as well as the forsythia, have also felt the discipline of this tool. It also comes in handy for my regular hand to hand combat with the forsythia bush.
I prefer using this small bypass pruner to the hedgetrimmer and also to the larger pruning shears. The hedgetrimmer is loud and doesn't leave the plant as healthy as a good pruning job with hand tools. It takes a little longer to do a good job with hand tools, but I enjoy outdoor work anyway, so the benefits outweigh the costs. The larger pruning shears, which imitate the function of a hedgetrimmer, bother my wrists with their additional weight and the more strenuous cutting motion. When I pair the Ace bypass pruners with the Ace anvil pruners, I can do about 95% of all the pruning that needs to be done around our home.
Altogether, these are very sturdy and no-nonsense hand held pruners. Under normal use conditions, there's really no part of this tool that could break. Though the coating on the handles might wear away, the pruner itself would still work just fine. The most likely damage is probably rust. But with minimal care (cleaning and occasionally oiling the blades) this tool has performed beautifully for me for about two years. I wouldn't be without these pruners, and their companion anvil pruners.
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