Three widely used cutting actions for grass shears are draw cot, scissor action and leverage-assisted action.
* Draw-cut trimmers have a stationary lower blade and moving upper blade, operated by an up and down squeeze on the handle. To hold their cutting edge better, blades are made from tempered, hollow-ground steel.
Scissor-action shears have two moving blades and work much like ordinary household scissors--with side-to-side pressure.
* Leverage-assisted trimmers use a between-the-handles cam with an off-center pivot that increases the cutting efficiency while reducing the effort to squeeze the handles. Variations of this design include one where a rod pulls the blade like the draw cut and one that pushes the rod toward the blade with a significant increase of leverage.
All of these trimmers are designed for one-hand use and incorporate a safety lock or catch to hold blades together when not in use.
* Long-handled grass shears relieve tiresome crouching when there is a lot of trimming to do.
* Cordless electric grass shears and long-handled electric and gas-powered string trimmers have gained wide popularity in recent years. String trimmers cut both grass and weeds, but most models are best suited for smaller areas and light work. A strong monofilament nylon line, spinning at up to 12,000 rpm, serves as the cutting "blade."
Hand-operated hedge shears have a scissor-like cutting action. They are primarily used to shape ornamental shrubs and clip soft, young growth. Most shears have one cutting and one holding blade. Blades are typically 8" to 10" long, some with serrated edges, others with notched positions for bulk cuts, or arc-edge blades that have two curved blades that pass through growth from either side. They should not be used in place of loppers or hand shears.
* Hand pruning shears come 6" to 9" long with anvil or bypass cutting mechanisms. They should not be used to cut stems more than 3/4" in diameter.
* Bypass pruning shears feature a hook and blade and are preferred by most professionals and rose growers because they cut closer to the stem, making them ideal for cut flowers.
* Anvil pruning shears are lighter and easier to sharpen. They feature a straight edge blade that cuts against a soft metal anvil They work well with dead wood.
Top-quality pruning shears offer specially ground, hand-honed blades for extra cutting strength; rust protection and non-stick surfaces; and adjustable tension joint assemblies. Handles can be wood, lightweight metal or fiberglass, usually with special rubber or plastic grips for additional comfort.
With their long handles for firm leverage and hard, tempered steel blades, lopping shears (loppers) eat their way through heavy underbrush and branches up to 3" thick. As with other pruners, they come in anvil or bypass style.
Tree pruners are pruning shears or a pruning saw attached to a long pole that will accept extensions or telescope--usual length is 6' to 12'. They are handy for high work or where a ladder cannot be used. Head and eye protection should be stressed since material cut overhead could injure when it falls.
A rope and pulley operate the cutter. The cutting mechanism is at the cutting head with rope extending the full length of the pole. High-quality rope and a gripping handle on the rope make cutting much easier.
Leverage is essential. The length of the lever arm, multiple pivot points and the number of pulleys all increase leverage to make cutting easier. Gear-driven blades make cutting even easier. In addition, the compactness of the head adds convenience and maneuverability to cut in tight places.
Pruning saws are used to cut dry or green limbs from trees. In addition to the pole pruner, saws include curved, double-edged, folding, long-handled and pistol-grip pruners. They should be used on branches thicker than 1" and are recommended for medium work too large for lopping shears. Blades come in lengths to 24".
* Hand edgers (round blade) consist of long handle; sharp, high-carbon steel blade; and turned step for better foot pressure and leverage. They function well for edging thick sod around walks, flowerbeds, trees and shrubs.
* Rotary edgers come with single or double wheels. In the single-wheel model, a rubber-tired wheel moves along the walk or driveway turning the cutting blade against the cutting edge. Two-wheeled edgers give better traction but are unhandy for edging around a house foundation or trees. Teeth float above the bottom trench to cut grass without being clogged by stones, sticks and other debris.
* Gas-powered or electric edger/trimmers are also available that can edge sidewalks and trim around trees.