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Anvil Secateurs: How to Use, their Features and Benefits

Anvil secateurs are also referred to as anvil pruners and they are a specialized gardening tool used to trim branches, prune shrubs, and cut thick stems. Choosing the right tool for any gardening task is important to improve efficiency and reduce the risk of injury. In this article, we will take a closer look at how anvil secateurs work and how to use them safely.

What Are Anvil Secateurs?

Anvil secateurs cutting tree branch

This garden trimming tool works on a very simple principle. A sharp blade made from hardened steel is closed on a flat metal or plastic surface when the handles are squeezed together. The flat cutting surface is known as an anvil and the cutting action is like a larger version of garden secateurs hence the name.

As the plant material is cut, it’s crushed on the anvil which creates a very clean cut for thicker materials. Anvil secateurs can be used for a wide variety of pruning tasks, including shaping bushes, deadheading flowers, trimming branches, and more.

How Do Anvil Secateurs Work?

The cutting mechanism of anvil secateurs is entirely reliant on leverage and force to cut through thick branches. Its metal blade is sharp and curved along one side and it fits snugly up against the metal or hard plastic anvil. What you need to cut is positioned between the blade and the anvil and the handles are squeezed together. The blade presses against the branch and then begins to dig in and more force is required to maintain the cut at this point.

The anvil provides support for the cut and you can exert a great deal of force to crush and then slice through the branch fibers. This cutting action is ideal to make clean cuts through thicker branches if the tool is used properly. But, the blade must be sharp and correctly aligned with the anvil to prevent crushing damage to the plant.

Features of Anvil Secateurs

The better anvil secateurs have several features that make them an ideal choice to cut through plant stems and thicker branches:

  • Metal Blade: The cutting blade is usually made from hardened steel to keep the blade sharper for longer.
  • The Anvil: This is typically made from metal or hard plastic and it provides additional stability at the crucial stage of the cut.
  • Cutting Mechanism: Anvil secateurs use a crushing and slicing action when the handles are squeezed together. When the blade and anvil come into contact the clean cut is completed.
  • Ergonomic Handles: The best anvil secateurs have ergonomically designed handles to promote a comfortable and non-slip grip. This reduces hand fatigue and the risk of injury during extended periods of use.
  • An Adjustable Tension Mechanism: Some models have adjustable tension to control the blade tightness against the anvil. This can be altered to customize the amount of cutting force required for different tasks and branch thicknesses.
  • Replaceable Components: The best anvil secateurs have replaceable anvils and blades to extend the lifespan of the tool.
  • Safety Features: Many anvil secateurs have a thumb-operated safety catch to prevent accidental closure and a locking mechanism to keep the tool closed during transportation and storage.

Investing in a tool that has some or all of these features makes good sense in the long term. The anvil secateurs will cut efficiently, last longer, and be safer to use, transport, and store when they are not in use.

Benefits of Using Anvil Secateurs

What Are Anvil Secateurs

Anvil secateurs can offer significant advantages over other gardening cutting tools. They are ideal to cut through thicker stems and branches with cleaner cuts. This makes them the perfect tool to prune medium to thick wood growth.

Significant cutting force can be applied to thicker plant materials which reduces strain and fatigue. With practice, it’s relatively easy to use anvil secateurs to shape bushes and shrubs too. But, most people will use these tools for deadheading, trimming, and cutting deadwood.

The ergonomic handle designs ensure that you have a comfortable grip when cutting. Because they are easy to use, anvil secateurs can be used by beginners and more experienced gardeners safely.

These tools are easy to maintain, simply clean them after use and regularly lubricate the moving parts. The best quality tools may have a removable blade and anvil to prolong the useful lifespan. A model with a safety locking mechanism is a good choice because the blades cannot open during transport and storage.

Anvil secateurs are extremely useful general gardening tools, but the cuts they make are not as precise as bypass secateurs. But, those more accurate cutting tools lack the power to crush and then cut through thicker stems and branches. Most gardeners will pick the secateurs that they need to use based on the plants they are working with. For specific pruning tasks, anvil secateurs are the obvious choice.

Proper Usage and Maintenance

The anvil secateurs need to be in good condition with a sharp blade, secure anvil, and free moving handles before you get started. Stems or branches you need to cut should be positioned as close to the base of the blade as you can to exert the maximum leverage. When you are ready, squeeze the handles together with consistent pressure, and the branch will be crushed and cut.

Cleaning the tool after use and some light lubrication will ensure that the secateurs are in good shape when you’re ready to use them again.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Anvil Secateurs

Anvil secateurs are powerful cutting tools, but they must be used properly to work efficiently and avoid potential injuries.

Twelve common mistakes that people make when they start to use these tools:

1/ Bad Branch Positioning:

The branch needs to be at the base of the blade, if it’s too far away from the base this may cause more crushing damage and the cut will not be clean.

2/ Applying Too Much Force:

Applying excessive force will reduce the cutting precision and lead to muscle strain. Remember that anvil secateurs are designed to apply force with the lever action of the handles and this should be where the majority of the force is coming from.

Use a steady squeezing action when you close the handles and you will notice that the results are better and that the process is much easier.

3/ Bad Cutting Angles:

If you cut at an angle that’s too steep or awkward you run the risk of making uneven cuts and the plant may be damaged.

4/ Cutting Delicate Live Plants:

For this task, you should be using bypass secateurs. Larger anvil secateurs are a poor choice for delicate plant tissues because they crush and then cut the material. These tools should be used to cut thick branches, stems and deadwood.

5/ Bad Cutting Technique:

Jerking the handles or pulling on them too quickly can cause the branch to tear apart or break into splinters. Gentle even pressure should be applied to make cleaner and more precise cuts.

6/ Failure to Adjust Tension:

Many anvil secateurs have an adjustable tension mechanism for different cutting thicknesses. If the tension is not adjusted properly for each cutting task you may make bad cuts and cause excessive wear to your secateurs.

7/ Cutting with Dull Blades:

When the blades are dull it’s harder to cut and you may be crushing your way through a branch rather than cutting it. The blade should be regularly sharpened to ensure that your cuts are clean and precise.

8/ Ignoring the Cutting Capacity Recommendations:

Every set of anvil secateurs has a maximum specified cutting capacity that should not be exceeded. If you cut thicker branches you may make ineffective cuts and you could damage the tool.

9/ Overusing Anvil Secateurs:

These are useful tools, but they are not an ideal fit for every cutting task in the garden. For live and delicate plants switch to bypass secateurs or some other type of specialized pruning tool.

10/ Failing to Check the Drop Zone:

If you’re cutting branches overhead, be aware that they can drop hard and cause significant damage. Keep the area underneath clear of people and objects and stand clear as you work.

11/ Ignoring Safety:

It’s important to use safety glasses and thick gloves when you’re using anvil secateurs. All the safety features of the tool should be used, including the locking mechanism which prevents the blades from opening as you move.

12/ Neglecting Maintenance:

Anvil Secateurs cutting dead branch

The anvil secateurs should be cleaned and lubricated after every use to prevent rust, maintain performance, and extend the useful lifespan.

If you avoid these mistakes you can work efficiently, improve the health of your plants, and keep your anvil secateurs in great shape for years to come.

Anvil Secateurs: In Conclusion

Anvil secateurs are a highly efficient gardening tool to cut thicker stems and branches if they are used correctly. But, they are not the ideal tool to cut delicate live plants and most gardeners own at least a set of bypass secateurs too.

Choosing anvil secateurs with a blade and anvil that can be replaced is a great way to extend the lifespan of the tool. It’s a great idea to invest in a tool with adjustable tension and a locking mechanism to work more efficiently and safely.

If the proper cutting technique is mastered and the anvil secateurs are sharp and lubricated, you may be surprised at how much you can cut with little to no fatigue.