The 8 Best Ratchet Loppers
This wiki has been updated 20 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 are perfect for pruning bushes and trimming trees. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best ratchet lopper on Amazon.
Understanding The Two Types Of Ratchet Loppers
The downside is that bypass loppers will struggle on thicker branches or jam on dead material.
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.
Never cut branches directly overhead as they may fall on you, causing injury.
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.
Because of how effective loppers are, many homeowners tend to misuse them, or use them for applications that they aren't intended to perform.
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.
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