We’ve been busy testing wheelbarrow loads of garden secateurs and consider the Fiskars PowerGear X PX92 as the best quality garden secateurs on the market. This secateur is a good mid-range model with a rotating handle for extra power. Our best budget choice was the Gardena Classic 8754, which is a bypass secateur with angled and easy-to-use cutting blades. Swap your current pruning shears for these models to enjoy top gardening results!
We carried out the test ourselves and tested all the products as they were intended to be used as stated by their manufacturers. Our secateur tests were coordinated by an avid gardener. The secateurs were tested for an entire season and at least two examples of each model were used. Not all users are equally strong, and they have different ergonomic needs. So the secateurs have been tested by several different typical users, namely younger and older men and women. During our testing, we cut 10-25 mm branches of rose bushes, apple trees, lilacs and lime trees. The tools were also used in tough situations, and we even left them outdoors to see how they were affected by rain and dirt. We also spoke to professional gardeners about their experiences with different brands and talked to a metallurgist as part of our evaluation of their cutting blades.
In our assessment we focused on the following aspects:
Sharpness: How sharp are the pruning shears? How tidy is the cut surface? Can the secateurs cope with branches as thick as the manufacturer promises?
Ergonomics: How hard do you have to squeeze the pruners? How quickly does your hand get tired? What are the springs like? Do the secateurs lie comfortably in your hand? Is the grip sufficiently big? Can you adjust the grip settings? How much do the secateurs weigh? Do they work for both left and right-handed people?
Good quality: Have the garden secateurs developed any damage or faults over time? Do the blades stay sharp? How many parts of the secateurs can rust and how much maintenance is required? Are there spare parts included?
Safety and colour: Is the locking function straightforward? Can you easily unlock the pruners by mistake? Does the colour of the secateurs mean they easily go missing?
We have scored each pair of secateurs respective to their price tag; in other words how good they are in terms of value for money. We thus have higher expectations of an expensive product than a cheaper one, and vice versa.
Medium class model that's sharp and has rotating handles for extra force
Price class: Medium Blade design: Bypass Grip: Right & left Adjustable grip: No Max. branch thickness: 20 mm Weight: 192 g (measured) Length: 200 mm Handle width: 100 mm Colour: Black Cutting blade material: Hardened PTFE coated carbon steel (upper), stainless steel (lower) Handle material: Fibreglass-reinforced polypropylene with elastomer Other sizes: No Wirecutter: No Spare parts: No Warranty period: 25 years (applies to manufacturing faults)
The Fiskars PowerGear X PX92 is a bypass secateur with a rotating handle. The idea behind rotating handles is that you use the force from all of your fingers. By dividing the force over the entire hand, your hand doesn't get as tired as quickly, particularly when trimming thick branches. The PowerGear X PX92 is suitable for use in either hand, but with the lock situated on the left side it's easier for right-handed gardeners to use. The handle width of 10 mm makes it easy to use for most people. Fiskars call the upper blade TrueEdge, but in practice it's a special steel containing chromium, molybdenum and vanadium (CrMoV) which is much more exclusive and sharper than in the other Fiskars models. If you're careful with the blade, it can retain its sharpness for much longer than normal carbon steel. The lower cutting blade is made from stainless steel, which doesn't rust but is much softer and therefore gets blunter after being used over time. In addition, the PX92 stands out as it has an exceptionally long guarantee - a full 25 years. We also appreciated the sharpness, and the rotating handle makes it easier to cut thicker branches. Even though the grip on the upper handle could be more comfortable, it feels pleasant in the hand and cutting is easy. The PTFE coating means that the friction between the blades is barely noticeable.
The PX92 pruning shears also has a number of weaknesses. The rotating handle contributes to better ergonomics and strength, but it's also a hard surface that can produce blisters more quickly than other types of handles - if you're gardening without gloves. Fiskars is a quality brand, which means we have high expectations of the tool's durability. Here, the PX92, like several other Fiskars models, leaves something to be desired. Despite the fact that the PX92 cuts effectively, it's still a little cranky from time to time. When you rotate the dial to adjust the handle, the secateurs can easily get stuck. The housing of the lower handle did come loose on a PX92 that we've been using for several years. Despite its flaws, however, the Fiskars PowerGear X PX92 is an effective and sharp secateur, and one that requires little effort to use. Combined with its competitive price, this is a lot of secateur for the money, so we didn’t hesitate to name it as the winner of our best quality garden secateurs of 2020.
Impressive premium garden secateurs with rotating handles and incredibly sharp blades
Price class: Premium Blade design: Bypass Grip: Right & left Adjustable grip: No Max. branch thickness: 22 mm Weight: 266 g (measured) Length: 200 mm Handle width: 170 mm Colour: Red & black Cutting blade material: Hard-chromed steel Handle material: Aluminium & PVC plastic Other sizes: ARS VS-7R (smaller), ARS VS-9R (larger) Wirecutter: No Spare parts: Yes Warranty period: Lifetime (doesn't apply to wear, such as to cutting blades, during normal use)
The ARS VS-8R is a pair of bypass high quality secateurs with rotating handles from the Japanese premium brand, ARS Corporation. ARS is synonymous with top quality and has been manufacturing cutting tools for 150 years. The ARS VS-8R is suitable for medium-sized hands. As an alternative, there are both the smaller VS-7R and the larger VS-8R. Again, the idea behind the rotating handles is to spread the load on the hand by using force from all of the user’s fingers. The model works for both left and right-handed people. The cutting blades are of the highest quality and are forged of premium steel and hard chrome. Chrome plating is expensive, but simultaneously gives obvious benefits such as reduced friction, excellent wear resistance and lifetime rustproofing. If you're used to rotating handles, the VS-8R secateurs provide you with significant force, and together with the razor-sharp blades, they have an almost frightening cutting ability. You really don't want to get your fingers caught between these blades!
The handles are made of fully cast aluminium and the grips are made in soft red PVC plastic. The secateurs are ergonomically designed and lie naturally in the hand. The fact that they're red is practical as it makes the secateurs easy to find if you place them in longer grass. ARS provides a lifetime guarantee for design and manufacturing faults. A range of spare parts also means that you really can use these high quality secateurs for an entire lifetime. One disadvantage with the VS-8R is its relatively greater weight - despite it not being particularly big. The length is perfectly sufficient, but there are several longer alternatives. For several users in our test group, the rotating handles are also a little bit fiddly. The locking mechanism could function more straightforward; the secateurs open with a light flick on the handle, but it's a little bit more difficult to lock them and requires some force. This is an area for improvement on a pair of secateurs with generally few weaknesses. Anyone with an ARS VS-8R in their garden shed will appreciate the higher quality and the extra force that the rotating handles provide.
Intelligent anvil secateurs that suit most gardeners
Price class: Medium Blade design: Anvil Grip: Right & left Adjustable grip: No Max. branch thickness: 25 mm Weight: 212 g (measured) Length: 200 mm Handle width: 115 mm Colour: Red, black & yellow Cutting blade material: Hardened steel with non-stick coating Handle material: Plastic Other sizes: RS 2500 (smaller) Wirecutter: No Spare parts: Yes Warranty period: 10 years (not wear parts)
The RS 4000 is an anvil secateur from the German company Wolf Garten, which in its home country is a well-known brand of gardening tools. And it's quite a common brand in well-stocked garden centres in the UK too. The advantage that's usually emphasised with anvil secateurs is that they are most suitable for dead branches and slightly thinner ones. But the RS 4000 model can perhaps best be described as a reliable diesel car. It's not the most attractive or the smoothest thing around, but it's incredibly effective in many different situations. We also gave these secateurs a high score when cutting fresh branches of up to 20-25 mm thick. The Wolf Garten RS 4000 is suitable for both left and right-handed users. The lock is on the top of the tool and is easy to use. With an average length, weight and handle width, this tool is suitable for the majority of gardeners. As an alternative, you could buy the smaller RS 2500, which is almost identical but for lacking a rubber coating on the lower handle.
The RS 4000 is red, black and yellow, which makes it easy to spot at a distance. The 10-year guarantee doesn't include wear parts, which makes us wonder what is actually included. However, you can buy spare parts for it. The RS 4000 cuts nicely and means you can remove large numbers of branches swiftly. The cutting blades are made from hardened steel which is tougher than stainless steel but more brittle. The springs are fairly hard and your hand can become a little numb after you've been cutting for a while. The grip is thick, but the rubber clad handles enable it to still feel comfortable. The handle is slightly arched towards the front, which means that the thumb rests nicely on the side of the secateurs as you work. The RS 4000 is not meant to have any components that are likely to rust, but if the non-stick coating on the upper cutting blade is damaged, they may develop rust. Overall, the RS 4000 is a versatile and powerful anvil secateur which is suitable for most gardening situations.
Light pruners that are easy to use by pensioners with a slightly weaker grip
Price class: Medium Blade design: Anvil Grip: Right & left Adjustable grip: No Max. branch thickness: 24 mm Weight: 145 g (measured) Length: 190 mm Handle width: 110 mm Colour: Black Cutting blade material: PTFE coated carbon steel (upper), nylon coated carbon steel (lower) Handle material: Fibreglass-reinforced polypropylene with elastomer Other sizes: No Wirecutter: No Spare parts: No Warranty period: 2 years
With the P83 PowerStep, Fiskars have developed secateurs that are customised for people who don't have much grip strength. The secateurs carry out cuts in one, two or three stages depending on the thickness of the branch. This means you can easily cut a branch of 2 cm, even if you don't normally have the necessary strength. No other secateurs cut thick branches with such reduced effort, even if you do have to do it in several stages. It's also clear that Fiskars have thought carefully about the design of the P83. With a stated weight of 140 g, this is one of the lightest secateurs in our test - even though we actually measured the weight at 145 g. The secateurs have a neat and tidy grip with "Soft Grip" coating on the upper handle. The locking device is positioned on the top, which is preferable as it then suits both right and left-handed users. In our test group, this secateur was most appreciated by pensioners. The weight, the design and the multi-stage cutting make it an excellent choice for the older gardening enthusiast.
The P83 is slightly shorter than average and also has a blunt nose. This combination makes it a little more difficult to get in among bushes. It can be difficult to get a proper grip of thicker branches. In addition, the springs periodically get stuck and you have to give them a hand to get the secateurs to open completely. Unfortunately, this is quite a common shortcoming with Fiskars' secateurs. The multistage technique has some advantages, but if you're going to cut lots of larger branches, it becomes tiresome. Viewed as a whole, with the P83 PowerStep, Fiskars have designed a pair of secateurs that are excellent for older people and make it possible for people with a weaker grip to enjoy working in the garden seamlessly. We therefore name them as the best senior citizen option, or for arthritic hands and for disable gardeners.
Impact-resistant all-round secateurs with few weak points
Price class: Medium/Premium Type: Bypass Grip: Right, left Adjustable grip: No Max. branch thickness: 24 mm Weight (measured): 239 g Length: 220 mm Handle width: 150 mm Colour: Black, silver Handle material: Aluminium/elastomer/plastic Other sizes: No Wire cutter: Yes Spare parts: Yes, blade and spring Warranty period: 25 years
The basic construction of Gardena’s BP50 premium secateurs is very like that of their other secateur models, with blades are made from stainless steel. The locking device is conveniently located on the top of the secateurs, which is useful because you can lock and unlock them with one hand.
What above all distinguishes them from the cheaper models is the sturdy aluminium handles. The entire construction also feels much larger in your hand. The lower handle has a plastic cover, while the upper one is made from softer elastomer. Together with the damping pads, the ergonomics work very well when you're pruning your rose bushes.
The damping is robust and means you avoid unpleasant vibrations in your hand when you use the secateurs. Another advantage is that the opening of the blades is large, making it easier to hold onto a branch when you're cutting it.
The handle width of 22 cm is primarily suitable for those with larger hands. The sturdy aluminium construction makes these secateurs less fragile without them being too heavy. And as always on Gardena’s tools, the locking device is simple.
In our tests, these Gardena secateurs perform on a level with the best other medium class models, but don’t achieve the performance of the premium ones. And it isn’t surprising that the cuts aren’t as easy or clean as the most expensive models, because the blades are made from stainless steel, while brands such as ARS use blades of forged steel, which is significantly harder. One well thought-out detail is that the BP 50 secateurs have a small opening on one handle through which you can attach a strap so you can suspend the secateurs from your wrist.
A disadvantage with the Gardena Premium BP 50 is the size. Both the limited length and handle width mean that these are primarily suitable for users with larger hands. Our older testers and those with smaller hands felt the BP 50 secateurs were one size too big. Another thing to be conscious of is that the spring is prone to rust – so it’s important to make sure the secateurs are dry after use. Overall, the Gardena Premium BP 50 secateurs are ideal for anyone with large hands who’s prepared to spend a bit more on high-quality all-round secateurs and who’ll make sure they’re put away carefully when not in use.
Ergonomic secateurs that last well, for small branches
Price class: Premium Type: Bypass secateurs Grip: Right-handed. Available for left-handed users as PXR-M2-L Adjustable grip: No Maximum branch thickness: 20 mm Weight (measured): 289 g Length: 200 mm Handle width: 150 mm Colour: Black Blade material: Alloyed special steel Material handle: Fibreglass reinforced polyamide, lower: core in forged steel Other sizes: Yes, also available in small and large Wire cutter: No Spare parts: Yes Warranty period: Unlimited for defects in materials and workmanship
The Bahco PXR-M2 is a pair of secateurs from the Bahco Professional range. From a price point of view, it aspires to be in the higher segment, and it’s clear that ergonomics have been the focus of the design process. The secateurs have soft elastomer handles with a roller function that means it’s convenient and less effort to use them. They also have generous absorbent pads.
The Bahco PXR-M2 is a pair of secateurs from the Bahco Professional range. From a price point of view, it aspires to be in the higher segment, and it’s clear that ergonomics have been the focus of the design process. The secateurs have soft elastomer handles with a roller function that means it’s convenient and less effort to use them. They also have generous absorbent pads.
The roller handles and substantial pads are useful if you have to do a lot of pruning. They work frictionlessly and without any problems for our test users. The soft handles mean you can use them for a long time without straining your hand. But one disadvantage of the robust construction is the weight of the secateurs. We measure them as a full 289 g. This makes them the heaviest of all the secateurs in our test, and the PXR-M2 does indeed feel a little clumsy in the hand. So if you're looking for a slightly slimmer model, this isn’t the right pair of secateurs for you.
Another minus point is that the Bahco PXR-M2 can only cope with cutting through branches up to 20 mm in diameter. That’s far too thin for secateurs in this price range.
The cuts on the branches are clean. The PXR-M2 comes just behind the secateurs with the very best cutting effect. Cutting effect refers to the overall experience of how easy it is to cut a branch (how much force it takes) and how clean the cut is. The locking device is a bit fiddly. Although it is possible, it’s quite difficult to lock and release one handed. And we think secateurs in this price class should be better than this.
One advantage is that Bahco has a full range of spare parts for all components. This is rare and is a clear plus for both the brand and this particular model. So correctly cared for, the Bahco PXR-M2 will give you a helping hand in the garden for many years to come. Even though there’s room for improvement, this is a high quality pair of secateurs for the serious gardening enthusiast with strong hands.
Premium secateurs with very sharp cutting blades for users with larger hands
Price class: Premium Blade design: Bypass Grip: Right & left Adjustable grip: Yes Max. branch thickness: 25 mm Weight: 252 g (measured) Length: 210 mm Handle width: 170 mm Colour: Red Cutting blade material: Hardened steel Handle material: Forged aluminium with grips in PVC plastic Other sizes: Felco 6 (smaller) Wirecutter: Yes Spare parts: Yes Warranty period: Lifetime (aluminium handle, only applies to design and manufacturing faults)
Felco is a Swiss company that started to manufacture tools in 1945. With its slogan "Swiss Precision. Made to Last", Felco aims to represent the good quality we typically associate with Switzerland. Many professional gardeners use Felco tools, and the company wants to target the most demanding customers. The Felco 8 is intended for people with quite large hands, but if you want a smaller model you can try out the very similar Felco 6. The Felco 8 is suitable for use in either hand, but with the lock on the left side it's easier for right-handed people to “get to grips with” if you can excuse the pun. If you're left-handed, you'll be better off with the Felco 9, which has the lock on the right instead. The grip is made from comfortable PVC plastic and is ergonomically designed. The secateurs are red, which makes them easier to find on a lawn, which becomes more useful than you first expect. But of course, Felco tools are primarily popular for their cutting abilities. This is a substantial pair of secateurs with good leverage that makes it easier to cut branches. Both the 21 cm length and the cutting head's pointed design makes it easier to reach branches further back in bushes or higher up in trees. If this isn’t enough you may need to look at extension pruning and cutting solutions. The lock is easy to use too. It's useful that the Felco 8 has a wirecutter which makes it easy to cut finer steel wire.
However, the Felco 8 is a large and heavy secateur so it's not suitable for everyone. For some of our testers, it was just too cumbersome. Another disadvantage is that the cutting blades aren't rustproofed. The spring rusted significantly on one of the pairs of Felco secateurs that we had been using for a longer period. Even though Felco has a wide range of spare parts and all components can be replaced, we think you should be able to expect better rustproofing from a secateur in this price category. Overall, the Felco 8 is a substantial and effective secateur. Even if the lifetime guarantee only applies to the aluminium handle, your Felco secateurs will help you in the garden or allotment for a long time, provided you take good care of them.
Elegant, sharp and a neat tool for rose bushes
Price class: Medium Blade design: Bypass Grip: Right & left Adjustable grip: No Max. branch thickness: 10 mm Weight: 142 g (measured) Length: 160 mm Handle width: 130 mm Colour: Brownish red Cutting blade material: Drop forged carbon steel Handle material: Drop forged carbon steel with PVC plastic grip Other sizes: Traditional Bypass 8" (larger) Wirecutter: Yes Spare parts: No Warranty period: 5 years
Traditional Bypass 6.5" is a neat and compact pair of bypass secateurs with a classic appearance from British manufacturer Kent & Stowe, who have supplied garden tools since the 1800s. They have an elegant design that you can really picture being used for rose pruning around a classic English manor house. Both the spring and lock are simplistic and visible. The lock works well despite its simple design. The secateurs are fully cast, from handle to cutting blades. The cutting blades are manufactured from forged steel, which makes them extremely sharp. This can be confirmed by at least one of our testers, who mistook their own finger for a branch in a moment of distraction.
Traditional Bypass 6.5" is a short and light pair of secateurs. The weight is stated at only 150 g, and we weighed it to be lighter still at 142 g. The light weight combined with a neat handle means that the secateurs sit nicely in smaller hands. For larger hands, however, these are far too small. But there's also the larger Traditional Bypass 8" model. The length is shorter than average, so it's not ideal if you're working further into bushes or thickets. The maximum branch dimension is stated as 10 mm. This is correct, as Traditional Bypass 6.5" is too small to deal with thicker pieces. However, their biggest weakness is that these secateurs lack proper rustproofing. So, if you're not careful they'll get rusty quite quickly. Traditional Bypass 6.5" is most suitable for smaller hands while rose pruning and maintaining other flowers. For example, they’re perfect for a florist arranging flowers indoors.
Budget secateurs from classic brand Fiskars
Price class: Budget Blade design: Bypass Grip: Right, left Adjustable grip: No Max. branch thickness: 22 mm Weight (measured): 194 g Length: 210 mm Handle width: 120 mm Colour: Black Blade material: Hardened PTFE coated carbon steel (upper), galvanised carbon steel Handle material: Fibreglass-reinforced polypropylene with elastomer Other sizes: No Wire cutter: No Spare parts: No Warranty period: 2 years
The Fiskars P26 is a slightly cheaper all-round model, which is very similar to its more expensive siblings. And just like the more expensive models, these secateurs have the same basic design, with hardened carbon steel in the upper blade, stainless steel in the lower blade and plastic handles with a soft elastomer coating.
These P26 secateurs have relatively small handles, so they’re best suited for smaller hands. Unfortunately, the handles are quite straight and this impairs the ergonomics. They aren’t really designed for a comfortable grip but given the price it’s not terrible either. The model suits both right and left-handed users and the locking device is easily accessible between the handles.
The manufacturer states that the Fiskars P26 can handle branches up to 22 mm in diameter, which is what you’d expect from a normal pair of secateurs. It’s also the maximum size of branch we feel this model can manage. The cut doesn’t turn out as clean as with the top secateurs in the budget category. The finish on the secateurs isn’t the best either – the friction between the blades is quite obvious and makes cutting difficult.
Another disadvantage is that the Fiskars P26 lacks good damping. This is likely to lead to your hand getting tired quickly if you use the secateurs for a long time.
The advantage of these secateurs is that they're simple and will work for most people. They also get a plus point for the locking device, which makes it easy to open and lock the secateurs. This is important for safety as you can injure yourself on open secateurs if you aren’t careful, or if you're unlucky.
Given the price level – which is only about £20 more than shop own brands – you get a lot of secateur for your money. The overall verdict is that the Fiskars P26 are a significantly better choice than the shops’ own brands, if you’re looking for cheap secateurs. But at the same time you have to count on a couple of minor disadvantages because after all they are a budget tool. Overall they do a good job as a pair of all-round secateurs.
Budget secateurs with wirecutter and downward angled cutting blades that are easy to use
Price class: Budget Blade design: Bypass Grip: Right & left Adjustable grip: No Max. branch thickness: 18 mm Weight: 131 g (measured) Length: 190 mm Handle width: 130 mm Colour: Light blue Cutting blade material: Non-stick coated stainless steel (upper), stainless steel (lower) Handle material: Fibreglass-reinforced plastic Other sizes: No Wirecutter: Yes Spare parts: No Warranty period: 25 years (doesn't apply to wear, such as to cutting blades, during normal use)
The Gardena Classic 8754 is a bypass secateur from German manufacturer Gardena. Since 1961, Gardena has manufactured garden equipment and it's a well-known brand in the majority of garden centres. They're probably most associated with various watering systems and other combination solutions for the garden. The Classic 8754 is normally a few pounds more expensive than your local gardening centres' own brands. It's very light, but at the same time an average length, which means you can get to most places effortlessly. Unlike the majority of other secateurs, the cutting blades are angled slightly downwards. Whether or not this is helpful is largely a matter of taste. Gardena state clearly that the Classic 8754 is intended for branches with a maximum thickness of 18 mm. This is not as impressive as the majority of their competitors, but also refreshingly honest as most secateurs require quite a lot of force to cut branches thicker than 20 mm. Another advantage is the small wirecutter at the back of the cutting blades, used for cutting thinner wire. The lock is easy to work and is suitable for both right and left-handed users.
The upper blade is made with non-stick stainless steel and the lower one in plain stainless steel. The non-stick coating is similar to a simple Teflon coating and reduces the friction between the blades. Stainless steel secateurs are practical for anyone who's a little less careful with their secateurs. At the same time, stainless steel is relatively soft, which has a negative effect on the sharpness. Unfortunately, the 8754 didn’t perform particularly well in our cutting tests. One disadvantage with the Gardena Classic 8754 is the springs, which are quite hard. This is particularly noticeable if you're cutting large numbers of branches. Gardena's marketing department is clearly fond of the blue-green Gardena colour, which matches the rest of their range. But it's not exactly practical as it makes it hard to find the secateurs if you leave them among bushes or long grass. Even though it doesn't perform perfectly, the Gardena Classic 8754 is still an excellent alternative to garden centre chains' own cheaper brands - and is why we've selected it as our best budget choice for 2020 and beyond.
Standard secateurs that can be adapted to different hand sizes
Price class: Medium Blade design: Bypass Grip: Right & left Adjustable grip: Yes Max. branch thickness: 12-24 mm Weight: 192 g (measured) Length: 210 mm Handle width: 105-130 mm Colour: Black Cutting blade material: PTFE coated carbon steel (upper), galvanised carbon steel (lower) Handle material: Fibreglass-reinforced polypropylene with elastomer Other sizes: No Wirecutter: No Spare parts: No Warranty period: 2 years
The well-known Finnish company Fiskars has roots going back all the way to the 1600s. Fiskars has a large range of garden tools, and their secateurs are available in the majority of garden centres. Fiskars P68 is one of their standard models and is suitable for both right and left-handed gardening enthusiasts. One advantage of the P68 is that you can easily adjust the grip to different hand sizes. The grip is comfortable and has good ergonomics, and thanks to what Fiskars call Soft Grip, it's pleasant to hold. The locking function is also easy to use. The secateurs have a long handle, which means that you can more easily get in among branches, for example when you're pruning rose bushes.
But our testers didn't feel that the cutting blades were sharp enough at times. Despite the fact that the upper blade has a PTFE coating which is intended to make the cutting blades slip over each other smoothly, the secateurs remain rather stiff when cutting. You feel a clear friction between the blades and over a longer session this may lead to tired hands. The explanation for the poor sharpness is probably the fact that the P68 is manufactured from simpler carbon steel. According to Fiskars, the P68 is galvanised to make it rustproof. Galvanising means treating with zinc, which is a cheap form of rustproofing. When the thin zinc layer is gradually worn away, the P68 begins to rust when exposed to moisture over a longer period.
Overall, the Fiskars P68 is an easy-to-use pair of secateurs that easily adapt to your family members' different hand sizes. Now there is no excuse for your sulking teenager not to help with the gardening!
Mid-range secateur with lighter weight an no unnecessary details
Price class: Medium Blade design: Anvil Grip: Right & left Adjustable grip: No Max. branch thickness: 20 mm Weight: 127 g (measured) Length: 170 mm Handle width: 95 mm Colour: Black Cutting blade material: Carbon steel with PTFE coating (upper) Fibreglass-reinforced nylon (lower) Handle material: Fibreglass-reinforced nylon Other sizes: Medium, Large Wirecutter: Yes Spare parts: No Warranty period: 5 years
PowerLever P53 is an anvil secateur from the reputable Fiskars brand. The idea with PowerLever is that the garden secateurs open themselves and the handles give an extra lever effect. According to Fiskars, this means you can cut thicker branches despite the fact that the P53 is a smaller pair than standard. At 128 g, this really is an incredibly light model; it's really clear that Fiskars have aimed to trim any excess weight from the P53. The handle is made from fibreglass-reinforced nylon without a separate grip. The spring is a simpler model and the metal components are small and few. Despite the small size, the secateurs lie naturally even in slightly larger hands.
One advantage with the PowerLever is that it's available in three different sizes. We tested the smallest model, which has two larger siblings for larger hands. The P53 has a handle width of only 95 mm, which makes it easy to use for small hands, even for children and young people under supervision. The upper cutting blade is of standard carbon steel with a PTFE coating - more familiar as Teflon. This reduces the friction and the risk of the cutting blade getting stuck in a branch. Another advantage with the PTFE coating is that it provides rustproofing. At the same time, the PTFE coating is sensitive to scratches and if it gets damaged the blades risk rusting if exposed to moisture. It's also obvious that the steel is of the simpler type and you have to put in more effort when cutting. The extra lever in the handle doesn't compensate for the lower-quality steel. Given Fiskars' reputation for good quality, we expected better. Fiskars PowerLever P53 is primarily a straightforward pair of secateurs for the user who prefers a really light secateur from a well-known manufacturer.
A robust tool for reaching right into bushes
Price class: Medium Blade design: Bypass Grip: Right & left Adjustable grip: No Max. branch thickness: 24 mm Weight: 214 g (measured) Length: 220 mm Handle width: 135 mm Colour: Grey Handle material: Non-stick coated stainless steel (upper), stainless steel (lower) H Other sizes: 8905 (adjustable size from S-XL) Wirecutter: No Spare parts: No Warranty period: 25 years (doesn't apply to wear, such as to cutting blades, during normal use)
German company Gardena's model 8904 is a solid and large pair of bypass secateurs. You can buy Gardena tools in most garden centres and it's a familiar choice for many keen gardeners. These secateurs are long and make it easy to work among thorny rosebushes and higher up on trees. The Gardena 8904 can reach where many others can't and feels as if it's been designed for slightly tougher conditions. Despite their size, the handle isn't too big for anyone with average-sized hands. If you want to vary the grip, however, you can try the sister model - the Gardena 8905 - which can be adjusted from S to XL. The lock on the 8904 secateurs is straightforward and clear, and the model is suitable for both left and right-handed users. The blades have a distinct upwards angle, and this means that you can get at fiddly small branches easily.
Gardena state that it's possible to cut branches up to 24 mm thick, and this is true providing you've got a fair amount of brute strength in your hands. Otherwise you're likely to fail. One of the reasons is that both blades are made of stainless steel. Of course, this provides protection against rust, but at the same time, it's a soft type of steel that's not particularly suitable for the best secateurs. Another disadvantage is that the spring is made from hard plastic. This makes it far too rigid, and you feel it every time you make a cut. Nor are the handles particularly comfortable, and the grip ergonomics are poor. We aren’t convinced by the colour of the 8904 either; the secateurs are grey, blue and black. This is pretty much perfect camouflage if you leave them in the undergrowth. The Gardena 8904 performs best if you have good grip strength and need stainless steel secateurs that reach a little bit further into bushes.
For some people, working in the garden is a hobby that they associate with relaxation. For others it's just something that has to be done. Regardless of your interest level, the right tools make it easier, and the work becomes both more enjoyable and quicker. Not to forget that the results are also better. Secateurs are among the basic gardening tools. You need them in any garden to trim trees and bushes, remove dead stems and prune large flowering plants – ideal for roses. Secateurs are suitable for cutting branches up to a diameter between 20-25 mm, which is around the dimension of an adult's finger. Just try not to mistake your finger for these branches. For trees with thicker branches, you should use loppers to avoid damaging the secateurs and injuring your hand.
Choosing the right secateurs brings many advantages. Secateurs are subject to tough loads, moisture and dirt. So, you save money by buying better quality. It's also important to make clean cuts. When you cut a branch off a bush it makes somewhat of a wound on the bush. And in the same way that people need to keep a wound clean to avoid infections, a clean cut reduces the risk of damage to trees and bushes. The wound instead has the opportunity to heal properly.
Secateurs can be purchased in all garden centres and DIY shops such as Wyevale, Homebase, Wickes and B&Q. The price tag runs from about £20 to more than £70 for the most expensive models. The most common brands are Fiskars and Gardena, but if you're prepared to pay more, you might want to look at Felco or ARS models.
In our tests, we focused on ordinary manual secateurs. There are also battery-powered and electric secateurs, but these are quite expensive and aren't really relevant for most gardening hobbyists. The central aspect in the test was the sharpness of the cutting blades and the quality of both blades and other components. But there are also other aspects to take into account.
First, you have to decide what you're primarily going to use the secateurs for. There are two types of blade design in secateurs; bypass and anvil. Bypass secateurs are the most common. The cutting blades pass each other in the same way as a pair of scissors. This creates a clean cut. It's also possible to cut very close to the stem. Bypass secateurs are most suited for cutting fresh growth. On an anvil secateur, the lower blade is angled. This functions as a broad surface against which the upper cutting blade cuts.
Anvil secateurs are primarily used for cutting dry branches or very thin ones. You also need to consider your muscle strength and size. For example, pruning a fruit tree often involves several hundred cuts and you can quickly become fatigued in your hand or wrist. Here, secateurs that are easier to cut with may be best. If you're looking for secateurs that create a lower load on your hand you should look for models that have rotating handles or which spread the cutting of thicker branches over several cuts.
Another aspect to bear in mind is safety. A good pair of secateurs is a very sharp tool, and if the cutting blades are open they can cause serious injuries. The locking device should be straightforward and secure, particularly if you're going to be using the secateurs while climbing trees or up a ladder. To reach branches high up in trees you sometimes need secateurs with long or telescopic handles. If you need these, however, it's probably better to supplement a normal pair with a pair of telescopic loppers or one of the long universal handles on the market.
We tested several popular models from the best brands. Our evaluation includes both bypass secateurs and anvil secateurs. We divided the test candidates into three different price classes with a category winner in each price class as follows:
Budget: Less than £15
Suitable if you only cut the odd branch or are pruning roses a few times a year. Important aspects include a simple locking mechanism and basic rustproofing.
If you're out in the garden a few times a week during the growing season, you need a really sharp pair of secateurs with good rustproofing and minimal maintenance. It's also important that they're ergonomically designed so that you don't get tired hands and joints. Another advantage is if the secateurs can be adapted to different hand sizes.
Premium: More than £40
Suitable for the genuine gardening enthusiast who prunes their fruit trees every year. If you're pruning apple trees or larger rose bushes, that may mean cutting hundreds of branches. If so, it's important to own stellar secateurs with top-class ergonomics and sharp cutting blades that don't get blunt quickly. Minimal cleaning, little fuss and top results!
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