Pruning: In search of a clean cut

Discussion in 'Maples' started by paxi, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. paxi

    paxi Active Member

    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. Louis
    It sounds like it should be a lot easier than it is but I have actually had a pretty hard time just finding the right tool to cut small branches. The first time was clearly my fault - I just went out and bought the cheapest bonsai concave cutter I could find - clunky cuts and rusted up despite cleaning. The second time was a real disapointment. I spent more this time and love the look and feel of the clipper I got in return - labelled yoshiaki, imported from japan. Wonderful feel, much higher quality material and hand sharpened. The problem is that the two heads of the cutter just don't quite line up. They are probably just a 1/2 millimeter off, but that seems to be well enough turn the cut into a "jagged V" that seems very much to invite infection.

    So at this point I am open to suggestions; the more specific the better because I don't want to spent any more money on things that end up in the drawer of bad purchases I have to hide from my wife :) If a concave cutter is not the right tool for this, lemme know. While you are at it, I would love to here about any tool that you find indisensable for the care of JMs.
     
  2. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

    Messages:
    1,355
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Northamptonshire, England
    I recommend a good quality pair of bypass secateurs (pruning shears in USA?) and cut just outside the branch collar. A different principle to the concave pruners, in that you inevitably leave a slight stub, but the branch collar is intact and the tree can compartmentalise the cut more easily.

    I've used cheap brands of secateurs in the past but having tried products made by Bahco and Felco I would not consider using any brand other than these two. Two particular models I like are the Felco 8 and the Bahco Ergo range. Both brands also offer models for left hand use and for smaller hands etc.
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    10,555
    Likes Received:
    121
    Location:
    Britain zone 8/9
    Sounds like a faulty pair. If the manufacturers want to maintain their reputation for quality products, they'll be happy to replace them free of charge.
     
  4. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    For intense pruning of hardwoods I like the
    Felco 9 (I am left handed). For softwood
    and closer to the base cuts I like the Felco
    6. For Roses, Citrus and Maple pruning I
    feel I can get a closer snip with the Felco
    6 but if I am to cut brush all day such as
    Pine, Incense Cedar, Spruce and Fir, the
    Felco 9 is the best hand pruner for me.

    Jim
     
  5. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

    Messages:
    1,355
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Northamptonshire, England
    I like the idea of the Felco 6 for close work but don't think I could make it work with my large hands. That's what I like about the Bahco Ergo model I have, the cutting head is narrow and I can get in closer and tighter than the Felco 8, but it is still comfortable for me to hold.

    The most important consideration for anyone thinking of buying a decent set of pruners: try before you buy and get one that feels comfortable in your hand. Good secateurs are a pleasure to use.
     
  6. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Western Washington, USA
    I LOVE my Okatsune pruner (about them: http://www.allendalegp.co.nz/okatsune.html) (best online price I saw: http://www.amazon.com/AM-Leonard-Okatsune-Pruners/dp/B001FADRPO). I have mistreated it in ways I blush to remember. And it still works. Apparently that's because it's made from "Izumo Yasuki Steel", the same steel used to make Japanese swords.

    Since I routinely stick my pruners in the back pocket of my jeans, I really like the way the closure works on it. I can open or close the pruners with one hand by thwacking the latch on my thigh. And when I slip them into a pocket (again one handed) the friction doesn't unlock them.

    My one complaint is that my hands are small and I wish I'd gotten the 7" version instead of the 8" size. But you mentioned you have large hands. I can tell you that when I've had gentlemen helping plant the larger trees and they've used my pruners for a cut every person who has used them has remarked how nice they are. And since one gentleman I work with wears size 12 boots (I'm not sure how that came up in conversation), I would anticipate his hands are large, too.

    For small cuts I use a pair of Stihl pruners (http://www.stihlusa.com/handtools/PP30-STIHL-Hand-Pruner.html) and what I like about them is that they fit my small hands. Those are kept hidden and no one is allowed to use them other than me. But I feel I could maybe find something even better for truly fine cuts. Which is why I bought myself a pair of pruning scissors. But they feel weird in my small hands. So they're in the bin of things I hide from my husband. For really really tiny branches I've used some needle nosed Fiscars with good results.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2011
  7. sasquatch

    sasquatch Active Member

    Messages:
    214
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    PNW, USA
    I agree with Michael F. If you paid $50 for a concave cutter, it should be a quality made tool with precision edges.

    I invested in a high end Joshua Roth Master Series Concave Cutter a few years ago, and it still has perfect edges, and performs like the day I bought it. It is made of solid Stainless Steel, and has a special laminated carbon compound covering the blade for improved sharpness. I use it for most of the fine cuts on my maples, but use Felcos for anything thicker than a pencil.

    http://www.joshuaroth.com/5701/13001.html
     
  8. emery

    emery Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,942
    Likes Received:
    264
    Location:
    Normandie, France
    I just use the gardener's best all-rounder secateurs: Felco #2.

    -E
     
  9. paxi

    paxi Active Member

    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. Louis
    thanks for all the suggestions so far - this is exactly the info that i was looking for. I do think the cutters I bought were defective , but wanted some suggestions before (hopefully final!) round 3.
     
  10. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,346
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Metro Vancouver, BC, Canada.
    I prefer the Felco #6 myself, its a smaller blade and can get in to spots some of the larger pruners dont fit. With so many models from Felco its user preference, go to a store that has a selection and try them on before buying.
     
  11. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Western Washington, USA
  12. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

    Messages:
    1,355
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Northamptonshire, England
    The Okatsune and Tobiosho secteurs do look as if they would be excellent to use. I love Japanese tools and knives etc, the difference in the quality of the steel usually becomes apparent quickly. Hopefully I won't go anywhere they have them for sale any time soon because I really don't need another set of pruners.

    ---

    I wanted to mention the Bahco Ergo PG line also. They are pretty much the exact same design as the PX line but without the replaceable blades, so more aimed at the home user than the professional. The quality seems to be just as good though, and best of all they can be picked up for as little as $17 on Amazon rather than the $45-50 for the PX line or the Okatsune or the Felco alternatives. (In the UK £15 with a free sharpener.)

    This is a good review of the Bahco pruners: Hand Pruner Showdown: Felco VS Corona VS Bahco


    PS - added a link to this thread in the FAQ section.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2011
  13. kaydye

    kaydye Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    342
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Live in Mapleton, Illinois, zone 5
    I love tools. I have one of the concave bonsai pruners that I got at St. Louis Botanical Gardens years ago. So, I was wondering Paxi, if that was where you got yours? I really like mine and have had it for years. The only problem is that it is not stainless steel and I always worry I will leave it in the yard and it will be ruined. Thanks to all who sent the sites for the Japanese tools, I may have to invest in a good, stainless pair. The only thing is I kind of want to hold them/try them out in my hand before spending that much and I don't know if there will be a local dealer in the Midwest. I'm going to email Joshua Roth and see. As far as pruners, I have two Felco and I change the blades each year to be sure they are sharp, but my go to pruners are a little cheapie pair of Fiskars that I would love to have a couple of, but they don't seem to make that style anymore. The blades have never been sharpened and they are just as good as the day I got them. When I prune there is a satisfying 'snap' that lets me know I have a clean cut.
    Kay
     
  14. paxi

    paxi Active Member

    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. Louis
    Nope, truth be told (and kind of embarrassing) I don't remember where I got mine. I purchased them in the fall on the internet, so by the time I tried them out in spring it was hard to go and track down the original purchase. I am not sure what I was thinking. I like the feel of the concave cutter, but if I had to do over again would try to see a pair in person to make sure the blades exactly line up, as this tool does not seem to be very forgiving.
     
  15. paxi

    paxi Active Member

    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. Louis
    Just for a bit of follow up, I ended up getting a pair of the felco 8s and very pleased so far with the cuts. Thanks again for the suggestions.
     

Share This Page