Can anyone list all the pros and cons of anvil and bypass secateurs?

I have a very old, rusty and blunt/chipped pair of (I think) bypass secateurs which have two curved blades. I see Lidl are doing bypass and anvil types for £5 so I'm going to get a new pair, but searching online only leaves me understanding that anvils are for thick bush branches whilst Bypass is for thin and light cutting.

However, are there any other things to know? For example, if you want to cut flowers to put in a vase, does it matter which secateurs you use, whether it's roses, daffodils or dahlias you're cutting? Bypass seem to be the right thing for this, but if they crush the stems, won't this make the flowers wilt quicker in a vase? And does it matter whether you cut straight across or at an angle?


  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,221

    Think of a pair of scissors cutting through something really tough and slippery. The thing that they are cutting often slips sideways and you end up with jammed scissors, yes?. It's the same with tough plant material.Bypass secateurs are beautiful for small jobs involving very soft plant stems.

    Think of a pair of pliers and how they can chomp through wire. The anvil type of secateurs do the same thing with tough plants.

    I would definitely recommend that you buy the very best pair of secateurs that you can afford. Lidl's £5 jobs sound like money down the drain.

    As to flower arranging, well there you have me. Flower stems are usually soft enough for bypass. If you are going to bring in a few holly boughs at Christmas I would say anvil.

  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 2,902

    Why not buy both, I've about 5prs of secateurs, as I keep losing them and then find them several weeks later. You can't have enough prs of secateursimage.

    Now, pink handled one's are almost impossible to lose and prs with a loop allow you to hang them on a hook in the shed. It doesn't matter if they are anvil or bypass, if you can't find then you can't use them...image  

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 11,889

    I like bypass secateurs for pruning roses. My favourite make is Felco, but they are a lot more expensive than £5, I think they are worth it, my cheap ones always broke or went blunt.

  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,221

    I would say that the pink handles sound like a good idea. When you drop them into a bush they can be surprisingly hard to see.

    Also, I would say that you should hold them in your hand and try them for size. I have small hands and find many too wide to grip

  • My personal preference is Felco No 2 which I've had for many years but I do have large hands & they are too big for my wife - she has a pair of Wilkinson Sword, smaller & lighter but very good quality. Felco (not to be confused with the cheap name copy 'Fedco') do a number of styles: The No 2 are robust and currently retail at around £60 so not cheap. Spare parts are also available for Felco (just bought a new blade for mine after 25 years at RHS Wisley plant centre last week) - the only part that's needed replacing since I bought them new!

    Buy the best you can afford as there is no substitute for quality.

  • John HardingJohn Harding Posts: 473

    Just resurrecting this thread: We visited Jekka McVicar at her Bristol Herb Farm recently and she began a talk to all the visitors by asking who had secateurs, what type they were, how frequently they were sharpened, how to sharpen them and how important it is to keep them clean and sharp.

    It was a very enlightening talk. She prefers the bypass type and I noted she was using Felco No 2 by-pass secateurs.  Jekka explained how cleanliness was as important as sharpness. A sharp pair will cut cleanly (not crush) which helps in not causing disease in the plant and cleanliness is as important in the fight against disease in plants. She showed how to keep secateurs sharp using a small sharpening steel she kept in her pocket though a small sharpening stone from a tool shop would do as well - something used for sharpening wood carving gouges would be ideal. Jekka sharpens her secateurs 2 or 3 times a week. I learned a lot from Jekka that day and found the visit very helpful.

    In a previous post I said Felco No 2 costs about £60 - however, I bought a pair for my son from Amazon at about £34 inc Vat & delivery and another pair for my brother in law at the RHS Malvern spring show for £33 so it is possible to get some good deals depending on where you look.

  • WaysideWayside Posts: 386

    I must learn how to sharpen my tools.  I've an old (ancient) and new pair of hedge shears.  The old ones come apart, and I've had a little joy sharpening them.  And they are a great to use.  All the modern entry level tools I have, have been complete and utter garbage.  The £5 Lidl tools look superficially as good as other £20 nasties.  And my loppers and secateurs blunt pretty quickly.

    Last edited: 22 June 2017 23:38:56

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 683

    I've learned the hard way that cheap garden tools are a waste of money. I have snapped the anvil off a pair of secateurs and a pair of loppers, bent the prongs of forks, and not by super strength, being a puny woman.  It really is worth buying the best you can afford.

  • KT53KT53 Posts: 2,081

    I generally go along with the argument of 'buy the best you can afford' but the special offers from the likes of Aldi & Lidl shouldn't be discounted too quickly.  Both have developed a reputation for providing very high quality for the price.

    A totally different area, but a few years ago one of their computer offerings beat competition costing 2 or 3 times the price.

  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,403

    just remember with things like shears, secateurs and loppers that you only sharpen the sloping side not the flat side (where the two blades touch one another) otherwise you end up with a gap between the blades, I've just had to bin a pair of shear my dad 'sharpened' with a grinder!

  • John HardingJohn Harding Posts: 473

    One of the voluntary jobs I do in my "retirement"  (meaningless term!)  is I train 'tool sharpening' having been a tool shop manager many years ago and I now train locksmiths to keep their chisels, plane blades, drill bits and other cutting tools razor sharp. Where garden shears are concerned I would recommend using a 6 inch smooth cut hand file - obtainable from a good hand tools shop or on eBay. The brand I would recommend is 'Nicholson' or 'Stubbs' or 'Sandvik' or 'Bahco' as these companies make top quality tools and, believe me, there are some really cheap imported rubbish files out there in the market place that are worse than useless and a complete waste of money. Always make sure files have handles fitted before using them and file the blade in a slightly uphill angle towards the cutting edge. I then use a technique called 'draw filing' to give an extra fine finish. Filing the blade will give a slight burr at the top of the filed edge - never try filing this off - if you have done the job correctly a little spray of WD40 and then closing the shears will remove the burr and give you a nice clean edge.

    Hope this helps

  • flowerydelflowerydel Posts: 16

    I like Yeoman Bypass Secatuers.  They seem to do a multitude of jobs.  I do sharpen them regularly and clean them after every use, give the nut a little 3 in 1 oil now and then.  I have had mine 25 years.

    I never use the same set for flower arranging, having a seperate pair, but  the make is not on them. Sorry. They were from Waitrose. £18 5 years ago, metal with green handle overlays.  Nice to use, and comfortable.

    I never seem to get on with Anvils.  They always seem to cross to the side,  and crush or break and peel the stem and I am left with an untidy plant.

  • LynLyn Posts: 8,067

    I can't imagine any shop, garden centre, online retail, letting you remove them from the bubble wrap,, a job in itself, then cutting a stout stem, Oh! Don't like those, let's put them back, I don't think so. 

    Ive just bought a pair from Amazon with a roll handle, good for arthritic hands. 

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 
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