By Matt Gibson
Bypass pruners are typically used for making clean cuts to healthy branches and stems to promote healthy growth, but anvil pruners are often used for cutting dead wood or taking some length off of healthy branches before making the final cut with bypass pruners.
Bypass pruners have two blades that cross each other to make precise cuts, similar to the way scissors work, but whereas scissors are used for paper and other thin materials, bypass pruners are designed to make precise cuts through larger, thicker objects, such as living stems and branches up to one half inch in diameter.
Anvil pruners work like a knife cutting an object on a hard surface or plate, which is usually made of some kind of metal. An anvil pruner has one sharp blade that closes onto the anvil, or lower jaw of the pruner, cutting and simultaneously crushing the branch or stem. Bypass pruners can be compared to scissors, while anvil pruners can be compared to a knife and cutting board.
Bypass pruners make clean, straight cuts, while anvil pruners tend to crush and damage the stem while cutting it. For this reason, anvil pruners are generally used to cut dead branches or to take off the length of branch, and then bypass pruners are used to make the final cut. A bypass pruner is not well suited to cutting dead branches, and an anvil pruner is not well suited to cutting living plant material, unless you don’t mind damaging the living branches with the cutting.
What To Look For When Purchasing Anvil Pruners
Bypass pruners are far more popular than anvil pruners, but each have an important role in a garden toolkit. When searching for the right pair of anvil pruners, there are several important factors to consider. You want to select a pair of pruners that are comfortable and easy to use. Ideally, you will find a pair of secateurs that are durable and made out of high quality materials. The best pruners have blades that are made out of some kind of stainless steel. The best blade material for hand pruners is a high tempered carbon steel. This type of steel will retain a sharp edge longer even when used heavily. High tempered carbon steel is also easy to sharpen when your blade becomes dull.
If you are investing in a high end pair of garden pruners, you will want to find a pair that has replaceable parts, or one that is backed by a lifetime warranty, so that you can replace it, or replace certain parts, once they inevitably break, become damaged, or lose their edge.
Pruners perform a heavy-duty task, and they are built to take a beating, but even the highest-quality pruners on the market will eventually break down after years of use. If you bought a pair that offers replaceable parts, you can just purchase new blades, or new springs and replace the parts of the pruners that have deteriorated or become damaged or dull.
If you have a pair that is backed by a lifetime warranty, you can just take a few pictures of the damaged areas and report it to the brand’s customer service department to receive replacement parts, or, more commonly, a brand new pair of secateurs to replace your old worn out pair. This way, you can rest assured that you won’t have to continue to invest money in the same tool whenever it starts to decline.
Other important factors to consider when selecting the right pair of pruning shears. Ideally, you will find a pair that is easy to clean, easy to adjust, lightweight, and affordably priced. Good pruners can run anywhere between $20 and $100, but you should be able to find a very good quality pair between $30 and $60.
You can tell the difference between a cheap pair of pruners and a well made pair almost instantly by the way they feel and the ease of which they are used. You don’t have to buy the most expensive pair on the market to get a good pair of pruning shears, but you should generally avoid the lowest priced brands on the market, as most of them will fall apart within the first few seasons of usage. However, there are a few low-priced pruning shears that are well made and serviceable as well. Listed below, are the best available high end, mid-tier, and budget anvil hand pruners on the market this year.
The Best High End Anvil Pruners
Felco F-2 Classic Manual Anvil Blade Hand Pruner (068780)
Find it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3qNqu8S
Felco pruners are well known for their durability and toughness. The Felco F-2 Anvil Hand Pruner is made with high-quality hardened steel blades and ergonomically designed rotating handles made of forged aluminum with a rubber cushioned, shock-absorbing coating that is made to fit comfortably in small to medium sized hands, reduce pressure on wrists, and hold up for years of use trimming in light applications.
The sharp, hardened steel blade and the easily adjustable screw mounted anvil plate combine to make reliably precise, clean cuts and can easily slide into hard to reach areas to make the proper cuts to keep your plants growing healthily. All parts of the Felco F-2 Hand Pruners are replaceable and backed by a limited lifetime warranty. The anvil blade is equipped with a sap groove to keep your pruners from sticking and building up sap during use.
Felco F-31 High Performance Anvil Garden Pruners (B003BGGXSI)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3c64AJR
The Swiss-made Felco F-31 Anvil Hand Pruners are specifically designed for gardeners with large hands. Made with a sharp hardened steel blade, and a highly adjustable, screw mounted, narrow anvil blade that can fit into tight spaces and make clean, precise cuts. The handle is made out of forged aluminum and coated with a shock-absorbing rubber cushion that rotates to provide extra comfort and prevent muscle fatigue and wrist injury from repeated motion.
Like the F-2 Anvil Pruners above, all parts of the F-31 Felco Anvil Hand Pruners are replaceable and backed by a limited lifetime warranty. Felco has been making high-quality hand pruners for over 70 years, and are well known for making comfortable, ergonomically-minded, highly-durable products with interchangeable parts and dedicated precision. You can trust that you made a sound investment anytime you purchase a Felco product.
Loewe 1101 Anvil Pruner
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2M1rZkP
Loewe Hand Pruners are somewhat hard to find, but the German brand is known for making some of the most durable products on the market. At just over 10 ounces, these pruners are a bit heavier than most anvil pruners you will find, but will feel nice and sturdy in your hands. They are a bit bulky, so it can sometimes be hard to fit them into tight spaces, but they can cut through medium to small branches with ease and precision.
The Loewe 1101 Anvil Hand Pruners are the classic design that made the brand famous, and they are amazing. The sharp blades are made from high tempered high carbon steel with a high-gloss chrome corrosion proof coating that will help keep the blades sharp and prevent rust damage. Loewe pruners are made with comfortable handles that are easy to grip.
The Best Mid-Tier Anvil Pruners
Gonicc 8” SK-5 Professional Anvil Pruning Shears
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3pfkKnU
The blades of the Gonicc 8” Professional Anvil Pruning Shears are made with high carbon SK-5 steel, which is very strong, extra sharp, and known to maintain sharpness longer than other steel types. The blades are also coated with chromium plating which keeps the blades sharper for longer and provides excellent rust protection. The Gonicc Anvil Shears are designed with a spring-loaded pulley mechanism that makes cutting branches practically effortless. When you squeeze the handles of these pruning shears, the pulley scrolls and provides extra pressure that increases the longer you squeeze it, requiring less force than other anvil pruning shears on the market.
These shears can cut branches up to ¾ inch in diameter, which may vary depending on the plant or tree species. Non-slip ergonomic handles provide a sturdy grip and are strong, comfortable, and lightweight. The 1001 model is specifically designed for gardeners with small hands, specifically women. Replacement parts are available and the company does offer a limited warranty on all of their products.
Gardenite Power Drive Ratchet Anvil Hand Pruning Shears
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/39bstO6
Gardenite Power Drive Pruning Shears combine the anvil pruner design with a ratcheting mechanism that provides five times more power than your normal hand strength, making cutting through tough branches seem like cutting through a piece of paper. As you squeeze these pruners, the ratcheting mechanism latches so that you can squeeze and release again, cutting through branches in simple steps instead of all at once, which can be quite hard and can cause muscle fatigue that leads to hand and wrist pain. Instead of straining to cut through thick branches in one motion, the ratcheting anvil pruners move through settings, increasing pressure as you cut.
The blades of Gardenite’s Ratchet Anvil Hand Pruners are made with heat treated and hardened carbon steel that is coated with a sap-resistant, non-stick teflon coating that helps keep sticky substances off your blades and prevents rusting. If you use your pruners frequently, you will be amazed at how much these pruners can reduce wrist strain and hand fatigue. Gardenite also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee and promises to quickly replace any damaged products through their customer service department, which prides themselves on providing 5-star service.
Corona ComfortGEL Anvil Pruner
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/36aUt2x
The Corona ComfortGEL Anvil Pruners are made specifically to cut dead wood that is up to ¾ inches in diameter and should not be used on living branches or twigs. These pruners are made with ergonomically-shaped grips that are intended to increase comfort and control with soft but solid handles which use a shock-guard bumper system to prevent hand fatigue and wrist pain. The lightweight, easy to handle Corona ComfortGEL pruners are suited for both right and left-handed gardeners, but are especially suited to gardeners with small hands.
The vinyl-coated pistol-grip style handles provide extra comfort and support. The blades of the ComfortGEL Anvil Pruners are coated with a non-stick coating to give users the best possible cutting performance. It is easy to replace anvil and blade parts, which can cut branches up to ¾ of an inch in diameter. The blade is made from resharpenable high-carbon steel with a chrome plated finish. The blade is also specially coated with a non stick coating to increase cutting performance and precision and keep blades free from sap and rust. The handle of the ComfortGEL pruners rotates to reduce the occurrence of blistering and hand fatigue from prolonged pruning and repeated motions.
The Best Budget Anvil Printers
Fiskars Anvil Pruner
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3c4CD56
Fiskars offers high-quality products at incredibly affordable prices. Their anvil pruner features a precision-ground blade that cuts through branches easier than thicker blades and retains sharp edges for extended usage.
This anvil pruner is designed for pruning back dead growth and cutting back dead flowers. It can also be used to strip small logs or cut back branches that die back over the winter up to ⅝ inch in diameter. The lever mechanism increases leverage and makes cutting twice as easy as many traditional cutting tools. Not only does Fiskars offer nice tools for super cheap prices, they also back up their products with a full lifetime warranty.
Mockins Professional Heavy Duty Anvil Pruning Shears (B075QP86M8)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3qN2DWH
At a super low price, you can afford to replace the Mockins Heavy Duty Anvil Shears whenever they break or become dull, but you won’t have to reinvest, due to the company’s 100% satisfaction guaranteed lifetime warranty. The blades of these pruners are made out of stainless steel. The ergonomic handles are designed to create a pain free pruning experience, and are especially well-suited to those with smaller-sized hands.
These Heavy Duty Shears have an 8 mm diameter cutting capacity, and feature a safety lock that keeps your shears closed and safe when they are not in use. Don’t worry about replacement parts, with a full warranty included with purchase, ordering individual parts are not necessary, as you can just replace the entire pruner, blades, screws, springs, handles, and all.
If you pick one of the anvil pruners listed in this article, you will have a solid pair of anvil hand pruners that will last for years. You will be able to easily keep your shrubs, trees, bushes, and garden plants trimmed and happy without injuring your arms, hands, or wrists in the process.