Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tools of the Trade - Felco Pruners

I received something in the mail last week that made me feel like I had graduated to the next level of amateur gardener.

No longer am I just a guy that plays around in his yard and writes about it on a blog.  Now I'm a guy that plays around in my yard, writes about it on my blog, and invests money in tools that I don't necessarily need.

For the last two years I've been quite pleased with my ergonomic Fiskars pruners.  They are comfortable to use thanks to a rotating bottom handle, they seem durable enough, and they do their job.

But the more time I spent on garden forums and reading gardening blogs the more I began to recognize a pattern among longtime gardeners.

That pattern was that these experienced gardeners kept mentioning their fondness for their Felco pruners.  That there might be something special about these pruners started registering with me when I read things like "if I could keep only one tool it would be my #8 Felco pruners" or "I bought Felco pruners 20 years ago and they still work great today" or "If Felco pruners were human, I'd totally marry mine."  I may have embellished a little bit on that last example but the sentiment is accurate.  And the point is, I don't recall anyone ever whispering or typing a disparaging word about their Felco pruners.

My old pruners worked just fine, but things had gotten stale between us.

Adding to their mystique was the fact that I couldn't find a seller locally.  Home Depot doesn't carry them, my favorite Garden Centers didn't have them, and they certainly weren't turning up on garage sale tables so I went to the Internet (God Bless the Internet) and purchased a pair through after researching them on Felco's web site.

It's a little disconcerting to spend $45-$60 for a pair of pruners without the benefit of holding them in your hand first so if you don't have that luxury, I recommend that you spend some time reading through all the descriptions of the different models Felco produces.  Each model has it's own number - mine are Felco 2s.  And each model has a different size or distinguishing feature that you may find more useful or better tailored to your specific needs.  They even have pruners specifically designed for left-handed users which is a good thing because my favorite bar has a poster over the urinal that says that each year 2,500 left-handed people are killed using tools designed for right-handers.  And if it's hanging over a urinal in a dive bar, you know it's serious.  (Not to get too sidetracked, but here's The Straight Dope's take on lefties dying young.)

I chose the Felco 2 model because it is designed for manly Paul Bunyan-like hands such as mine.  It also has the benefit of each part of the pruner being easily replaceable.  Cool features include a notch for cutting small wires without worrying about dulling the cutting edge.  It also has a sap groove feature that is supposed to keep the blades from getting sticky.  I haven't figured out how that works yet though.

They are Swiss made.  It says so right on the forged aluminum.

As for how highly I will prize my right-handed, specially-selected-for-me pruners, I will let time be the ultimate judge.  But after just a week of use, I can attest that they feel good in the hand, they cut sharply and easily, and they feel like quality objectified.  But that might be just the euphoria of a new long term relationship talking.


  1. I, too, have noticed how people praise their Felco pruners. I don't have a set yet, though. I'm still working on getting them as a Christmas present!

  2. I married some Felco pruners once. Bastards cheated on me.

    But I forgave 'em, because they're so awesome.

  3. Honestly, we use them exclusively in the trade and my landscaper got me a pair for home that were ridiculously expensive even wholesale. I am not very excited over them for the money invested. Keeping them sharp is the key. I guess I just don't see the difference even though my landscaper swears by them.

  4. Holley - I hope Santa treats you right then.

    Kyna - I thought of some bad jokes about how that must have cut you deeply but decided it was too cheesy to actually write that. Wait, shoot. Never mind.

    Gardenwalk - I'm not sure I've noticed a difference with my new pruners either except in how cool I feel when I carry them around.

  5. My husband gifted me with a pair of Felco pruners a few years back. Yeah, he is pretty special - they are both keepers.

  6. Which model did he give you, Cat?

  7. Hehe I am impressed! I have a terrible resistance to professional tools, am trundling around with an old wheelbarrow and an ancient digging fork You will definitely look the part with that weapon:~)

  8. I love my Felco #6s :-) In fact, I have two pair -- in case I lose one, I'll never be without. I like the fact that you can change out the blades -- well, actually all of the parts can be changed out. I get them for a slightly lesser cost through my master gardener association. I'm a big fan of Fiskar's loppers, though, I will say. And Fiskars have some killer shears, too. Fiskars pruners are good too, but my Fiskars pruners got all sticky and gummed up. Might help if I cleaned it once in a while. I just bought a diamond sharpener for my tools, so sharp Felcos...look out garden, here I come :-)

  9. Foxglove - Someday I hope to have old favorite tools though. Maybe in 20 years my Felco pruners will have that old, time tested look and feel to them.

    Toni - I have a sharpening attachment for a dremel tool that I bought a while ago but I've been reluctant to use it so far. I guess I'm worried that I will use it at the wrong angle and ruin the blades.

  10. Chad, I am the proud owner of five Felcos. Can you imagine a woman who owns five of them? That would be me. Not that I'm bragging or anything. I love all five of mine, and have actually worn the red plastic handles off the first pair I owned, so now they are Silver. My son accumulates points for a health insurance program where he works and dutiful lad that he is, his stellar health has provided him with enough pointage to gift his maternal unit with the aforementioned plethora of Felco pruners. I am such a lucky mom. (And the other 'gifts' he could choose from did not appeal to me, er, him.)

  11. Five Felcos? How do you decide which one to use? Are they all different models?

  12. I am a rather disorganized gardener (blush) so very often I have one of the five Felcos in one of five different places, such as in the holster on my hip, or in my garden tool bucket, or one stuck in my back pocket or one in the tool box on the tractor. Four of them are 8's and I have one #7 (with the rotating handle). I can't say I'm real fond of the 7, it takes some getting used to, but I will say that even if I didn't get them for free, I would pay full price for them. They're worth it, especially if a person does a lot of pruning like I do.