By Matt Gibson
Generally, the most popular models of hand pruners are of the bypass type, though there are a few exceptions. Bypass pruners function similar to the way scissors function, where the blades pass each other very closely, with the material that you need to cut positioned in between the blades. As long as the blades of your bypass pruners are nice and sharp, the branch that you cut with them should be sliced through cleanly and neatly. At least one of the blades of a bypass pruner needs to be very sharp, though usually both blades are sharpened. At least one of the blades of a bypass pruner should be curved. The two blades of any bypass pruner only need to be sharpened on a single side, but that side needs to be quite sharp in order for the pruners to cut branches effectively.
When looking for a high-quality pair of bypass shears, or secateurs, the best way to know if you are going to like the shears you are eyeing is if you go to a garden center and pick up a few pairs and get a feel for how they feel in your hands. Everyone’s hand size is different, some have large strong hands and others have smaller, weaker hands. Since every hand is unique, it is hard to tell whether certain pruners will work for others, even if they were perfect for you. So, if you really want to get a feel for which pruners were designed for your hand type, you really need to feel them in your hands to see just how comfortable they are for you.
If you are not able to get up to a garden center to try out a couple pruners in person, the next best way to pick a good pair is to look for the pruners made out of the highest quality materials. The most important things to look for in a good pair of pruners are blade quality, the center screw (the screw that holds the two blades together and determines how far apart from each other they sit), and the spring that holds the pruner blades apart from one another, which is responsible for forcing the blades back into an open position when you release your grip on the handles of the pruner, and the locking mechanism, which locks your shears when they are not in use. The best pruners have sharp, hard, high-quality steel blades, a well-tuned and easily adjustable center screw, a sturdy spring that stays in place, and a locking mechanism that is easy to open and close.
The best pruner blades are made of the highest quality steel. You want to get a pruner with blades that will stay sharp for extended periods. They should cut clean and straight, and continue to perform well even after a couple of uses. Signs of cheap pruner blades include blades that get dull after minimal usage and blades that rust or damage easily. Inspect newer pruners for signs of rust formation or for nicked or damaged edges. It is also important to look for blades that will be easy to sharpen once they begin to dull. No matter how good the pair of pruners you purchase are, they will eventually become dull. When this happens, you will appreciate having a pair that can be easily resharpened when needed.
The best pruners have hard strong blades that are made of high-quality steel. Look for high tempered steel, carbon steel, or, ideally, high tempered carbon steel. Some pruners boast having titanium or chrome plated blades. Though these fancy sounding metals can protect your blades from rusting, they are typically only a thin protective layer that is quickly removed when you first sharpen your pruners. After sharpening, the blades are subject to rusting, so there’s really not much value in this feature.
The center screw is one of the most important features of a pair of pruning shears. It is what the two blades pivot on, and it controls the distance between the blades. The center screw should be tight enough that it holds the blades together snugly, but not so tight that it keeps the pruners from closing correctly. If the screw is too loose, branches are likely to get stuck between the blades, and if the screw is too tight, the pruners will be hard to use and will cause muscle fatigue and hand cramping. The center screw should be well adjusted upon first purchasing the pruners, and should also be easy to adjust, so that you can get it back in the perfect place when you have to maintenance your pruners.
High-quality pruners will have a spring that is well positioned and does not slip out of place when in use. The spring needs to be strong and firm, but not so firm that it requires excessive muscle effort to fully close the blades. A good locking mechanism should never get in the way when using your pruners. It should be easy to open and close and should not be easily knocked closed accidentally. Your locking mechanism should also be positioned where it does not easily get twigs and branches caught in it during use.
Other factors to look for when purchasing pruners are ergonomic design, replaceable parts, and cleanability. Ideally, the pruners you choose will be comfortable in your hand and easy to use for extended periods without causing discomfort. The perfect pair of pruning shears should be easy to use with one hand. If you decide to invest in a top of the line pair of shears, you will want to pick one that has replaceable parts. Even the best models and brands of pruning shears will eventually wear down or break. Shears perform very hard work and will eventually need parts replaced, so if you are spending a fair amount of money on your shears, make sure that you are investing in a brand that has replacement parts available.
You also want to pick a pair of secateurs that are easy to clean. Some models need to be disassembled to be cleaned, while others can be cleaned while they are still in one piece. Sometimes the models that need disassembly are easier to clean well, as disassembly allows for each part to be cleaned from every angle. However, some pairs that do not require disassembly can be easily cleaned due to their design.
Now that you know what to look for in a pair of bypass pruning shears, here are a few of the top models that are available for purchase. Remember, every hand is unique, so just because a pair of pruners works like a charm for one person, doesn’t mean that they are well-suited for you. Also, don’t just go after the pruners with the highest price because they seem nicer than other brands. Sometimes a more moderately priced pair of pruning shears will fit your needs better than a high-end model. Pruning shears should be selected based on comfortability and functionality, not their retail value. Now, here are our top recommended pruners.
Felco F7 Ergonomic Hand Garden Bypass Pruners
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/35rNIIr
If you’re looking for the very best at any price, you can’t go wrong with the Felco F7 bypass pruner — their top of the line option. These Swiss made pruners are famous for their cutting ability, durability. You can also find replacement parts for Felco pruners, meaning that you can use them for years and years and always be able to repair them.
The revolving handle of the F7 pruner moves on its axis with you, distributing your efforts over all the muscles in your hand as you work. This reduces the cutting force you require to achieve those larger cuts by about 30 percent according to Felco, reducing hand fatigue. Rubber shock absorbers give you protection against wrist strain. A setting mechanism allows for the easy adjustment of the cutting head for a precision pruning cut.
If you want the very best bypass pruners made, these are the ones to go with.
Fiskars All-Steel Bypass Pruning Shears (91095935J)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2J2zHtr
The Fiskars All-Steel Bypass Pruning Shears are designed for stems and light branches up to ⅝ inches thick, and should not be used on large, thick branches that require loppers or more heavy duty pruners. However, for light pruning tasks, this incredibly affordable pair of pruning shears will do the job with ease. The blades are made of fully hardened, precision-ground steel, which they claim will remain sharp even through heavy usage. The blades are coated with a low-friction coating that helps the blade slide easily through branches and twigs and helps prevent sap buildup and rusting. These shears are also designed with a sap groove that helps keep the blade from sticking and gumming up. The handles are coated with non-slip grips that make the pruning shears easy to hold and manipulate. The all-steel design provides a durable tool that should last for years. If not, Fiskars also offers a full lifetime warranty.
Haus & Garten ClassicPRO Titanium Bypass Pruning Shears (HG-TB)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/31xHYvO
The Haus & Garten ClassicPRO bypass pruners are highly rated by reviewers and made with top of the line materials. This particular model uses Japanese grade stainless steel hardened blades with a protective titanium coating that protects against rust and lowers trimming friction. The ergonomically engineered anti-slip handles are equipped with shock absorbing pads for extra comfort during extended use. This model is designed to fit medium to large sized hands and will reduce wrist strain and discomfort due to repetitive motion. Sap grooves prevent sticking and keep blades clean between uses. These shears are also equipped with an adjustable system allows user to manually adjust the alignment of the blades for optimal precision and consistently clean cutting. As you would expect with top of the line pruning shears, Haus & Garten products are backed by a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee.
Garden Elite Razor Sharp Bypass Pruning Shears (B01J3RNE2G)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/35ojEh2
The attraction of these Garden Elite bypass pruning shears comes from the sharp blades, which are made of high carbon SK-5 steel. The manufacturer states that this is the hardest steel on the market for cutting tools, so these shears are designed to stand up to the toughest tasks. The blades are also coated with Teflon, a nonstick material, which keeps sticky sap and other plant debris from clogging or gumming up the blades. As a bonus, the nonstick coating also helps the blades to resist rust. The shears come along with an extra blade to replace the originals in case they become dull with lots of use. The aluminum handle is covered with nonslip rubber, so they’re comfortable to use and won’t slip even if your hands get sweaty as you work. Reviewers say that these shears hold their own when compared to more expensive options on the market. Garden Elite’s shears also come with a lifetime warranty and customer support, so you know that you’re protected in case the shears become damaged or have any type of problem.
Corona Rolling Handle Bypass Pruning Shears (BP 4840)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3mid7eG
Corona’s bypass pruning shears feature a handle that rolls as you cut through branches to make the pruning process easier and more comfortable. Its blades are made of high carbon steel that can be sharpened or replaced as needed. They come equipped with a volute spring, which is made to cut smoothly and resist the clogging that can be an issue with some pruning shears on the market. Reviewers say these shears are best with those who have medium or large hands and may not be the most comfortable option for people with small hands. Users found them both comfortable and effective for a variety of pruning tasks.
Fiskars Powergear2 UltraBlade Softgrip Pruning Shears (B00SJEUKHW)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3ogIhES
These pruning shears from Fiskars are suited for branches up to three quarters of an inch thick. The manufacturer says the Powergear design provides three times the power of standard pruning shears, making it easier to cut through the branches. The blade has a coating that keeps the blade sharp five times longer than uncoated steel. The handle is designed to be contoured to the hand, making these pruning shears more comfortable and easier to use. One of the best features of the Fiskars pruners is the full lifetime warranty to protect your investment. The bottom handle is made to rotate with your hand as you cut to help prevent blisters and make each cut more powerful. The extra force these pruners provide makes them a great option for gardeners who don’t have a very strong grip or who get tired easily when pruning.
Choosing the right pair of bypass pruners can make your work in the garden much easier, keep your plants well groomed, happy, and looking their best, and can reduce the chance of injury. The difference between a good pair of pruners and a bad pair of pruners is immense. You can get by with some low quality gardening tools without much notice, but you should never settle for low quality pruners. A good pair of pruning shears can save you lots of time and stress and can make a big difference on how much you enjoy your gardening time. The shears you choose will likely be in use for a long time, so take your time to pick out the right pair of pruning shears.
Our home and garden obsessed writers and editors choose every product we review. We may earn money if you buy from a link at no additional cost to you.