Anvil versus Bypass.
A bypass blade works like a pair of scissors – the blades pass each other to do the cutting. Anvil cutting drives the blade against a hard “anvil” surface to pinch off the cutting.
Bypass shears are better.
They’re easier on the hands and stay sharper longer. Don’t even consider anvil types of shears unless you want to make your pruning efforts a pain in the hand.
The better garden tools allow you to buy replacement parts. This isn’t overly important until your blades go really dull and you can’t sharpen them or replace them. If the blade knicks, you have to replace it – or buy a new set of pruning shears.
Good pruning shears cut easily and quickly. High quality steel in the blades means they stay sharper – longer and a sharp blade is very much easier on your hands than a dull blade.
It is difficult to tell people the difference a good tool makes to the way you’ll feel after a half hour of garden cleanup. They have to experience the feel of a good tool and then they’ll never use a poor one again.
Frankly, cheap tools break. Good tools last.
My Felco pruning shears are now over 30 years old and still work quite nicely.
They’re not all that much more expensive now than they were back then.
In my opinion, when it comes to pruning shears, there are two choices for hand pruners.
Felco pruning shears.
These are the Rolls-Royce of pruning systems but when you compare the pricing, you’ll see that they’re more than worth a few extra dollars (they last 10 times as long and have replaceable parts)
Used by almost every nursery professional in the world, this cast aluminum hand pruner will last for generations. They are very easy on the hands and are totally replaceable. In 30 years of nursery worik, I’ve never had to fix mine other than replacing blades every now and then. This is a serious tool for any level of gardener.
If you’re going to buy this premium tool, let me suggest you also purchase the holster. The reason I haven’t lost my Felco’s is that they go into the holster when I’m finished with them and it is attached to my belt. Get it!
This is the best of the lower cost hand pruning shears and is easily obtained in local garden shops or big box stores (they sell everywhere unlike Felco).
Made of one of those jet-age plastics, these have stood up in my garden trials.
They are easy on the hands although I find them a bit small for my sized hands. I’ve pinched my fingers between the handles on occasion if my fingers revolve around the handle a bit too much. If you had slightly smaller hands, this wouldn’t be a problem.
The parts are easily replaced and this is a well-designed tool for the home gardener.
I haven’t worked with anything else I’d recommend.
If you need to know how to use pruning shears or want other reviews, check out my pruning tips main page.