The 8 Best Ratchet Loppers
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in June of 2016. When you are tidying up around the garden and don't need a heavy-duty machine, like a chainsaw, these ratchet loppers will be your best friend. Many of them have telescoping handles to let you reach high branches, and offer the advantage of leverage to let you slice through limbs up to a couple of inches thick. They come in bypass and anvil versions and are great for pruning bushes and trees. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 06, 2021:
For the most part, this list held up pretty well since we last visited it, but we did notice that the Corona RL 3560 weren’t available during this update, and so decided to remove them. We were disappointed to see the RL 3560 go, as they're one of the few bypass loppers in the ratcheting category, which made them stand out from the anvil-based majority.
Fortunately, we were able to replace them with the Steelhead Heavy-Duty, another bypass model from an alternate company. With a 1-3/4 inch cut capacity, they’re hardly the most powerful model we ranked (you’ll want to look to the EZ Kut G2, with their 3-1/2-inch capacity, for that), but they’re still a fairly capable option for users who are looking to make cleaner cuts.
We also incorporated the Better Garden Tools Compact to the bottom of our list, in the interest of users who find bigger models hard to handle, who just need a basic option to do some simple trimming, and added the Tabor Tools GG12A to the mix, as a solid all-around model that will be worth considering for many.
If you know for sure that you need something much longer than the Better Garden Tools Compact, then you might be better off browsing our list of telescoping loppers. And, for motorized maintenance on bushes with smaller branches, you might also be interested in our list of hedge trimmers.
March 27, 2020:
Ratchet loppers are specifically intended for people than aren't willing or able to use the traditional style. While they require a few more squeezes than standard bypass loppers, they offer considerably more mechanical advantage. One drawback of this is that if you're not careful, they can break a bit more easily than other types, but there are often replacement blades available for such an instance.
With that in mind, the Spear & Jackson 8290RS are built so that while you can, you shouldn't ever have to replace the blade. They're one of the best designed options around, and you can tell their quality partially from how durably constructed their jaws and anvil are, as well as how resilient their telescoping arms are. The EZ Kut G2 are every bit as well made, but they're considerably more expensive. The MLTools L8230 also extend to over 3 feet long, but they, on the other hand, are prone to bending if they're squeezed too hard.
As far as non-telescoping models go, the Fiskars Anvil are quite strong and reliable, which is something we've come to expect from the high-quality brand. The Corona RL 3560 are an interesting pair because, unlike almost all the rest, they're bypass rather than anvil loppers, so they're suitable for pruning live trees. And if you don't need to reach very far, the Barnel BR2700 are an excellent choice. In fact, for those with arthritis or other physical issues, these compact, 18-inch loppers can be a good two-handed alternative to traditional one-handed garden shears.
Florian Tools Maxi Lopper A particularly well-engineered ratchet loppers with an estimated 700% mechanical advantage is actually what helped push Florian Tools into the respectable position they're in today. One of the ways you can tell just how good the tool is, is the fact that it's hard to get your hands on one. But if you can, it's one of the best options out there. honeymanseed.com
STIHLusa.com This company has a strong reputation for making quality tools, and their loppers are no exception, made with lightweight, aircraft-grade aluminum and backed by a limited lifetime warranty. If you don't see anything that looks like it can live up to your needs, you can always check out their selection of chainsaws. stihlusa.com
Understanding The Two Types Of Ratchet Loppers
Before going out and buying the first pair of ratchet loppers you see though, you must understand the two different types and their pros and cons.
Sometimes referred to as branch cutters or tree trimmers, loppers are one of the most useful tools in a pruning arsenal. They are designed with long handles that provide the user with a far reach and a high degree of leverage, while requiring minimal force. They making cutting through thick and thin, hard-to-reach branches relatively easy. Taking it a step further, ratchet loppers require even less exertion than standard loppers. They feature a geared mechanism that clicks into place as you slowly squeeze the handles, allowing the user to make gradual progress through tough branches almost effortlessly.
Before going out and buying the first pair of ratchet loppers you see though, you must understand the two different types and their pros and cons. Similar to hand pruners, loppers are categorized by their head type, either anvil or bypass.
Anvil loppers have one sharpened blade and one dull, anvil-like surface. Depending on the shape of the blade, the anvil can be flat or curved. As the the user squeezes the handles of anvil loppers, the blade closes in on the flat surface crushing the branch between it and the anvil. Since there is just as much crushing as cutting happening between the jaws of anvil loppers, they can power through dense, dead wood where bypass loppers may struggle. They are also less likely to jam on fibrous material. On the flip side of this, they are not as useful on living vegetation, since they damage the soft plant material, leaving behind a wound that takes longer to heal.
Bypass loppers may either have two blades, or a blade and a dull jaw. When the user squeezes the handles of bypass loppers, the blades, or in some cases the blade and dull jaw, actually pass each other, creating a clean cut. This makes them ideal for cutting living vegetation where you want to cause the least amount of stress on the plant, such as removing dying or diseased material, shaping a plant, or taking live cuttings. They are also better when you need to make a very precise cut. The downside is that bypass loppers will struggle on thicker branches or jam on dead material.
When And How To Use Ratchet Loppers
Whether trimming trees and brush for ornamental purposes, pruning to promote better growth, or just clearing out dead wood from your yard, loppers can play an invaluable role. They are most often used to cut through branches that are too large or hard-to-reach for hand pruners, but not so big that they require a saw. Generally these branches will fall between half an inch and 2.5 inches in diameter, and they can be dead or living.
Do your best to stop the loppers from twisting in your grasp as you cut.
When using loppers, it is important to position yourself correctly for maximum leverage, comfort, and safety. Stand with your feet spread slightly to provide yourself with enough stability that you won't be off-balanced when you squeeze. Never cut branches directly overhead as they may fall on you, causing injury. When possible, you should also stand in a position that allows you to get the branch deep into the jaws of the loppers without fully extending your arms. Working with extended arms minimizes your leverage, making cutting branches more difficult and tiring you out faster.
When reaching for the branch, open the jaws of the ratchet loppers as wide as possible. This ensures that you get the plant matter as deeply into the blade as possible, giving you the most cutting force with least effort. Keep your wrists straight and slowly squeeze the handles together. As the jaws close, the geared mechanism will lock into place, allowing you to take a brake as needed without having to start the cut again. Do your best to stop the loppers from twisting in your grasp as you cut. When loppers twist, they will strain your wrists, as well as the joint holding the blades together, significantly shortening their lifespan. They also won't cut as effectively. If you find the loppers constantly want to twist as you try and cut a branch, this is a good indication that it is too thick or dense for them and you should consider switching to a pruning saw.
Caring For Your Ratchet Loppers
As long as you care for them correctly, ratchet loppers will last through years, if not decades of use. The key takeaway from that sentence is that they must be cared for correctly if you want them to last. Because of how effective loppers are, many homeowners tend to misuse them, or use them for applications that they aren't intended to perform. It may be tempting to to cut thick or overly dense branches better reserved for a pruning saw. Not only will this wear out your blades and all of the internal components of the loppers quickly, it will also make for some very messy cuts. On the flip side, when cutting small stems and branches, garden shears will be less tiresome. Only using your loppers for applications they are designed for helps to ensure they offer you the longest service life possible.
The key takeaway from that sentence is that they must be cared for correctly if you want them to last.
Even when only using loppers for their intended purposes, they tend to be one of the most used gardening tools. This means they are often the first one to dull. Sharpening them regularly is important to keep them cutting effectively. Sharp blades on loppers means less fatigue for you, and less stress on the tool's components when you work.
Since loppers are used to cut through dead and live branches alike, the blades often get gummed up with sap and moist plant matter. You should wipe them clean after every use to keep them opening and closing smoothly. It is also important to fully dry them off after cleaning to prevent rust from forming on the blades. If they will be sitting for a long time between uses, such as during the winter season, it is a smart idea to apply a thin coat of oil to prevent atmospheric corrosion from the moisture in the air.