A lopper is a useful tool in for pruning limbs and branches. The long handles let you reach far and exert high leverage with minimal exertion, letting you comfortably cut braches which fit between the opened lopper blades. Typically, this includes branches of up to 1-2 inch in diameter or more, depending on the type of lopper,
For most of your cuts on tiny stems or plants, you’ll prefer the accuracy and one-handedness of pruners over loppers. For thicker or harder wood, you’ll need a pruning saw.
This guide will help you make the best cut you can when it is time to use loppers, your most versatile pruning tool.
Two Types of Loppers: Bypass and Anvil
In terms of their type of cutting action, loppers (like hand pruners) fall into two categories: bypass and anvil.
- Bypass loppers, the most common kind, have a single-edged blade that slices past a thick base as it closes. These are used for precise (final) cuts, which could affect the health of the tree.
- Anvil loppers have a blade that slices tothe center of the fat lower base, the anvil, contacting that base at the completion of the cut. These are less precise but exert higher crushing force, and so are used for thick dead wood or less precise cutting.
Pruning With Loppers: General Technique
Wear sturdy work gloves and possibly safety goggles if you’re in a dense shrub. Choose the exact spot to cut and a healthy cutting angle. As you use loppers, it may help to consider these steps:
- Perfect cut location for bypass loppers: For the most exactly-placed cut, line up the blade itself with your cutting site. Remember that the blade passes to the side of its thick base, so the precise spot that the blade comes through shifts about a 1/4” when you flip the tool.
- Get the wood deep into the loppers.Completely open your loppers and get the branch deep into the blade, all the way in. It’s tempting to snip-snip wood like scissors might cut paper, but this weaker cutting method will stress your hands and dull the blade quickly.
- Make the cut.With the wood properly positioned, close the loppers through the branch in one fluid motion.
Other Tips and Precautions for Lopper Use
- Work comfortably.You can use loppers to reach branches that would be hard to get to with hand pruners, like deep in a shrub or overhead. However, limit the time you work with extended arms unless, as this will tire your shooulders fast and may cause you to make a weak cut.
- Don’t let bypass loppers twist as you cut.Keep a firm grip on the handles as you cut and don’t let the tool rotate or twist. If you use loppers on wood that is really too large or dense or to hard for them, the added strain will make the tool want to twist. If you feel this happening, consider switching to a pruning saw.
- Keep ‘em sharp.Loppers are the first tool to go dull. They cut thicker wood than hand pruners and don’t have the teeth of saws. They are easy to misuse, which dulls them faster. When you sharpen them, see where the metal is rolled over and dulled. In case you notice that the metal is in worse shape near the tip of the blade than the on inside, it is a sign you’re using the tool wrong; get that wood in deeper!
- Clean your loppers before storage.Wipe blade surfaces clean, dry them, and if they’ll be stored for a longer time without use, apply a thin coating of oil (spray-on works fine). This prevents rust from air moisture.