Secateurs (aka pruners, pruning shears) are probably the tool which I use most frequently when out in the garden or up at the allotment. I'd previously not given much thought in choosing a pair and as a result, I've needed to buy a new one every couple of years. More recently I've resorted to the gear assisted type, such as those developed by Wilkinson Sword (now rebranded as Fiskars) as I've found my increased usage has led to a rather painful elbow at times.
However, earlier this year I decided that constantly replacing my secateurs was a waste and I should go for the kind where the parts can be replaced. Thus I decided to finally bite the bullet and buy me a pair of Felcos to celebrate my birthday [she really knows how to party eh? - Ed]. I even had a nice stash of garden gift vouchers, courtesy of Gardeners' World magazine, to cushion the expense: we're talking about the Rolls Royce version of garden tools after all.
So I wended my way down to the garden centre, where I was instantly stopped in my tracks. There was just too many of the darn things to choose from. Whilst I can appreciate the differences between anvil and bypass types, what hope do I have when faced by a plethora of numbered options, such as the Felco range sports? So I retired in all of a dither and got NAH to re-sharpen my secateurs, which then fell apart in September.
Imagine my whoops of delight when I won a pair of Felcos in Ryan's giveaway in October. Desired brand and all dithering thoughts were thoroughly dispelled. Have a go with a lovely pair of Number 8s (Classic, Ergonomic, High Performance, Bypass) and be done with it. They promptly arrived and I promised Ryan faithfully I'd review them. Thus I've been cutting my way through my autumn clearing for a while and now I'm ready to give my preliminary report.
First Impressions - on arrival
There really isn't quite anything like their shape is there? They're slightly more heavy than my last pair, but then those were mainly plastic whereas these are mostly aluminium. Number 8s are designed for larger hands, but that's fine: my hands are quite large and the curved handles fit comfortably. I like the red too - I'm less likely to lose them in my borders as I've had a habit of doing with other (mainly black) brands in the past.
Using them for the first time - just after they arrived
The safety catch's a little stiff and opens in the opposite direction to my previous pair, but I soon got used to that. Once opened they don't have a habit of unexpectedly shutting with the safety catch on like others I've had; definitely a plus point. I love the ready oiled cutting surfaces and the slick sound they make as I open and shut them. The positioning of the cutting 'head' is different to what I'm used to, so I had to really concentrate in getting the angle right for cutting. One immediate advantage: I can cut much thicker stems than usual, up to an inch in diameter without much extra effort (and pressure on my elbow) at all. This means I'm not having to get out my more unwieldy loppers so often, nor troll around with two lots of gardening tools :)
Continuing to use them - a few weeks later
I've now got used to the different angle of the cutting 'head' and I've found I can use them for long periods of time without my elbow hurting as much as it used to. The extra weight's not posing a problem either. I haven't used the wire cutting notch yet, nor do I really understand what the sap groove does. However, the first will be rectified come the spring when I need to put in some new wires for my apple tree cordons up at the allotment and I'm not that worried about the latter feature. Having such an expensive pair of secateurs means I'm taking better care of them than I used to: I'm also hoping Santa might bring me one of those nifty little holsters so I can attach them to my gardening trousers when I'm not using them.
One final observation: up until now I've only used anvil pruners and these are of the bypass type. I've had no problems in using my new secateurs for exactly the same jobs as I've carried out with my other ones in the past.
Therefore it's a major thumbs up from me so far. Of course the real crunch will come if I experience the most frequent criticism of using Felcos (apart from their cost): losing the spring, or a couple of years down the line at the point when I usually have to buy a new pair. It'll be interesting to see how I fare with the parts replacement/servicing aspects of what Felco have to offer.
Thanks to Ryan's glamorous assistant for pulling my name out of the hat and to Ryan for having the give away in the first place. You've really brightened up my autumn clearing :)
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