ABC Wednesday 5: S is for...

... Secateurs

Secateurs (aka pruners, pruning shears) are probably the tool which I use most frequently when out in the garden or up at the allotment. I'd previously not given much thought in choosing a pair and as a result, I've needed to buy a new one every couple of years. More recently I've resorted to the gear assisted type, such as those developed by Wilkinson Sword (now rebranded as Fiskars) as I've found my increased usage has led to a rather painful elbow at times.

However, earlier this year I decided that constantly replacing my secateurs was a waste and I should go for the kind where the parts can be replaced. Thus I decided to finally bite the bullet and buy me a pair of Felcos to celebrate my birthday [she really knows how to party eh? - Ed]. I even had a nice stash of garden gift vouchers, courtesy of Gardeners' World magazine, to cushion the expense: we're talking about the Rolls Royce version of garden tools after all.

So I wended my way down to the garden centre, where I was instantly stopped in my tracks. There was just too many of the darn things to choose from. Whilst I can appreciate the differences between anvil and bypass types, what hope do I have when faced by a plethora of numbered options, such as the Felco range sports? So I retired in all of a dither and got NAH to re-sharpen my secateurs, which then fell apart in September.

Imagine my whoops of delight when I won a pair of Felcos in Ryan's giveaway in October. Desired brand and all dithering thoughts were thoroughly dispelled. Have a go with a lovely pair of Number 8s (Classic, Ergonomic, High Performance, Bypass) and be done with it. They promptly arrived and I promised Ryan faithfully I'd review them. Thus I've been cutting my way through my autumn clearing for a while and now I'm ready to give my preliminary report.

First Impressions - on arrival

There really isn't quite anything like their shape is there? They're slightly more heavy than my last pair, but then those were mainly plastic whereas these are mostly aluminium. Number 8s are designed for larger hands, but that's fine: my hands are quite large and the curved handles fit comfortably. I like the red too - I'm less likely to lose them in my borders as I've had a habit of doing with other (mainly black) brands in the past.

Using them for the first time - just after they arrived

The safety catch's a little stiff and opens in the opposite direction to my previous pair, but I soon got used to that. Once opened they don't have a habit of unexpectedly shutting with the safety catch on like others I've had; definitely a plus point. I love the ready oiled cutting surfaces and the slick sound they make as I open and shut them. The positioning of the cutting 'head' is different to what I'm used to, so I had to really concentrate in getting the angle right for cutting. One immediate advantage: I can cut much thicker stems than usual, up to an inch in diameter without much extra effort (and pressure on my elbow) at all. This means I'm not having to get out my more unwieldy loppers so often, nor troll around with two lots of gardening tools :)

Continuing to use them - a few weeks later

I've now got used to the different angle of the cutting 'head' and I've found I can use them for long periods of time without my elbow hurting as much as it used to. The extra weight's not posing a problem either. I haven't used the wire cutting notch yet, nor do I really understand what the sap groove does. However, the first will be rectified come the spring when I need to put in some new wires for my apple tree cordons up at the allotment and I'm not that worried about the latter feature. Having such an expensive pair of secateurs means I'm taking better care of them than I used to: I'm also hoping Santa might bring me one of those nifty little holsters so I can attach them to my gardening trousers when I'm not using them.

One final observation: up until now I've only used anvil pruners and these are of the bypass type. I've had no problems in using my new secateurs for exactly the same jobs as I've carried out with my other ones in the past.

Therefore it's a major thumbs up from me so far. Of course the real crunch will come if I experience the most frequent criticism of using Felcos (apart from their cost): losing the spring, or a couple of years down the line at the point when I usually have to buy a new pair. It'll be interesting to see how I fare with the parts replacement/servicing aspects of what Felco have to offer.

Thanks to Ryan's glamorous assistant for pulling my name out of the hat and to Ryan for having the give away in the first place. You've really brightened up my autumn clearing :)

ABC Wednesday is bought to you this week by the letter S, why not See what else is on offer over there today?


  1. I've had the same pair of Felco secateurs for over 20 years - they are virtually indestructible. I've tried other pairs, but always come back to these. I even have a fetching leather holster for them.

  2. VP, I have lusted after a pair of Felcos for years but have only ever bought cheap brands because I have left dozens of pairs of secateurs in various gardens of SW London! No point spending money, although the down side is that of course they never seem particularly satisfactory.

    I now have 2 pairs of Felco secateurs! The first pair I found, at the local tip. They must have been left in the rubbish by accident. They were a bit rusty but I am nursing them back to health. The best pair however are the ones I bought at Hampton Court Flower Show from a very nice man on the Felco stall. He looked at my hands & suggested which were the right ones for me (No 8 for big hands like my big head) & showed me how they fitted into my hand compared with others so I could use them comfortably. I also bought a sharpener which he showed me how to use properly so I can keep my little treasures at their peak (well, when I get round to it). This last pair do not leave my garden - actually they sometimes get taken on a trip to the allotment if they have behaved impeccably.

  3. My conscience is flaming very RED right now VP .. I have dirty tools on my potting table that should have been thoroughly cleaned and oiled for the long winter's pause .. now you have me thinking I might just have to go retrieve my Fiskers and my Black and Decker pruners and DO SOMETHIMG about it all ? LOL
    I think you did a great review girl !
    Joy : )

  4. A big thumbs up so far then! I forgot to say that part of the reason why there's so many different numbers is that each model has a left and right handed version (but different numbers) and some come in various sizes to fit different sized hands.

    Martyn - if I'd known that I'd have saved a fortune by now!

    Ms B - 2 pairs - riches indeed :) I'm sure if our garden centre had sported a nice man with the depth of knowledge yours had, I probably would have bought these much earlier. But then I wouldn't have had the pleasure of winning something for once. Mine will be accompanying me to the allotment if Santa brings that holster - otherwise I'll need to wear my shorts with the very deep pockets every time just to ensure I don't lose them.

  5. Joy - your comment came in whilst I was writing.

    Sounds like an ideal job for those Canadian winters. It might just prevent you from going stir crazy this time! ;)

  6. Ms B: I think those are my Felcos you've found there. I lost my first pair I ever owned and suspect that they simply dropped out of my back pocket and into the green waste bag (also the last resting place for many of my garden forks, I fear). But it's OK, if you give them a good home you can keep them :D

    I'm a no. 9 girl myself: being a cack-handed Annie as my mum used to call me, the left-handers are the only way to go. And they are truly wonderful: definitely my desert-island garden tool.

    Am also hoping for a nice leather holster for Christmas - all my jeans back pockets have Felco-shaped holes in them...

    and (in my not-very-humble opinion) anvil secateurs are pants: you almost always end up crushing the stems a little as you cut them, even if your secateurs are sharp. Not good if you're after a disease-free year, and I've never quite understood why people still sell them.

  7. I am so glad you liked them and that they went to such a deserving gardener!

    This was my first ever giveaway on the blog and it is such a thrill to read a review from the winner!

    My Felco's are amazing! I've had this particular pair for around two years now and I won my pair also. The pair I won came from a Gardeners World Christmas Quiz that I took part in and I've loved them ever since.

    Again, I am pleased they have earned their place in your arsenal of gardening equipment and I'm sure they will be with you for years to come.

    Good luck to you and everyone else who enters my current and future competitions.


  8. Only another gardener would understand wanting a pair of secateurs for their birthday:) I looked at a pair of these at a garden show and wanted them so badly. But I wound up buying another, cheaper brand for now. Great review--you've convinced me that when mine give out, I should replace them with some Feldcos. Quality always pays off over time.

  9. 'Secateurs'--nice word! will try to remember it! the first time i used secateurs was some decades past when i helped my paternal grandmother with her dairy goats. we used them to trim the goats' hooves!

  10. Great review! And good use for the letter "S". :)

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  12. I got some Felcos last year. They were the cheaper end of the range so are red and black handles. I have a dread of losing them. All seacateurs should have handles that flash on and off when lost. It seems so obvious to me but I'm still waiting :-)

  13. I have been considering buying a pair of Felcos for some time but worried about mislaying them. I like Easygardener's solution. Thanks for the info. VP.

  14. Hi VP Congrats on the upgrade to Felcos.
    Couple of top tips for you :o)
    If and when you do need a new spring, blade etc if you pop into your "local garden centre" they can order the parts for you. They might even still keep some in stock.
    Second top tip when you are in there and in the garden shop, ie the entrance where the tools and bulbs and seeds are, make sure you ask for Michael he has worked there for many many years and is a mine of useful knowledge.

  15. How do you keep yours from going rusty?
    I'm sure I dry them off but when I come back to use them again in the spring they are stuck fast and at least a little rusty and never the same again!
    I wonder if rubbing a little olive oil on them would work....

  16. Okay, okay, I'm going to break down and buy a pair. You know I can't resist a good tool...

  17. Helena - WD40. Spray, preferably, all over the blade + joint when you put them away for the winter.

    Though I carry on using mine all winter long these days... and just a few drops of 3 in 1 on the bolt that holds everything together from time to time seems to keep everything in tip-top working order.

  18. I'm a Felco No 7 girl - I love the rolling handles, which prevent wrist and arm strain.I have two pairs, I get the nice man who sharpens the lawnmower blades to sharpen them once a year, and I wipe them with WD40 every time I use them. This is a really good indication of how much I like them as I am a terrible neglecter of tools normally.

  19. I have a rather fetching scar on my left hand where I stabbed myself with my first pair of Felcos. An honourable scar, I like to think. The sap groove was helpful in draining the blood away from the cutting surface

  20. I've had my Felcro no.6's (I have very small hands) for a few years now and I love them to pieces. I have used the parts/replacement service and found it very efficient. I would recommend it to you all you have rusty Felcro's sitting around.

    I'm with Easygardener about the flashing. Even though they are red, I'm forever putting them down and forgetting when I left them. They need a beeper on them, so you can press a button thingy and they beep at you so you can find them again!

  21. I submit my Felcos to all kinds of abuse, and have done for years, and they still come up roses.

    The only thing I do right is to sharpen them regularly. Once I figured out the how-to, it was a breeze. I posted on that way back in April, with photographic evidence of my slatternly (except for sharpening) tool-keeping:

  22. Secateurs is much more elegant word for pruners. I think I'll use it from now on. I long ago graduated from anvil to bypass, and there's no comparision. I use anvil now only on the uber-loppers that cut off branches. I prefer Corona secateurs to Felcos, but they are good tools.

  23. Oops - it's taken me so long to catch up from holidays :(

    Thanks for your comments everyone and I'm glad to see there's so many Felcos fans out there. I'm itching to get out there to use them, but I think it's a bit cold at the moment, not to mention dark!

    Helena and CG's comments also inspired the letter W a couple of weeks ago - I love it when that kind of thing happens, so thanks guys and a Happy New Year to you :)


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