Tuesday, May 1, 2012

And then the brave princess awoke, as if from a deep sleep...

...and started blogging again.

There are several reviews of tools and doodads I've wanted to do for quite a while now, so I thought I'd start with some hand pruners. Let me first begin by saying that the Corona tools I'm reviewing, with the exception of the folding saw, are all ones I've received for free. I think I picked some up as schwag at the Garden Writer's Association symposium in Dallas a couple of years ago, and others were sent to me by Corona when I won a lottery on a Twitter chat. That said, I resisted reviewing them for a year or two because I really wanted to give them a workout. One way I decide whether I like a tool is if it passes the "first one I reach for" test, and that can only be determined by a long period of use.

I'm reviewing three hand pruners, shown in the photo below, from left to right, a pair of Corona "Dual Cut By-Pass" pruners, a pair of Felco #9s, and a pair of Felco #10s for left-handers:
 I'll start with the Felco #10 because I had these first, and so in a sense the others are compared to them. I purchased the Felcos because this Swiss brand is supposed to be the nonpareil of the pruning world. I'd had other pruners before, of course, that I had purchased at various hardware stores, but my main criteria when purchasing them was the cheap price, and I didn't find them especially comfortable or effective. As I've gotten older, the joints in my hands bother me more and more, so I took a page from my woodworking book and reasoned that maybe a better tool was worth a higher price.

I selected the #10 pruners because they could be had in a left- or right-handed version, and came with a swivel handle that is supposed to be more ergonomic. Now a word about left-handed tools. Right handers might think that this is not a big deal, but all you have to do (if you are right-handed) is try out a pair of left-handed scissors to see what being left-handed in a right-handed world feels like. In fact, if you don't believe me that it is a problem, go on and try it now. I'll wait.

See what I mean?

So the left-handed option appealed to me, and thus I proceeded. And I think I would have liked the pruners just fine for that feature alone, but then Felco went and ruined it with that darned swivelly "ergonomic" handle. It drove me crazy right from the start and drives me crazy still. I simply cannot get used to it shifting under my hand. It gives me an uneasy feeling, the way the ground shifting under my feet as I walked might make me feel as if something was terribly, terribly not right with the world. Since I garden for peace and relaxation, a vague feeling that something is amiss as I work runs counter to that purpose.

So nix on the Felco number 10s. I was disappointed, and resorted to using a pair of cheap Fiskars I had lying around whenever I needed something snipped.

Then along came the Corona lottery. At least, I think that's how I came by the set pruning tools, which included loppers, pruners, a sharpener, and a replacement blade for my folding saw. To be honest, I don't really remember how I was selected to receive them. I do remember that there were no strings attached. By that I mean that sometimes I get sent things and asked to review them, but this was not one of those instances.

Still, I thought that if I wound up liking them, I might say a few words. As it happens, I do like them.

The Corona pruners are supposed to usable by either left-or right-handers, and I do find them more or less comfortable in that respect. I would like it, I think, if the handles were a little beefier, but as is, they are fine. The mechanism for locking the pruners closed is easily accessible when using it in either hand--in the left, I simply click it open with my index finger, and in the right, I could use my thumb, should I ever be suddenly and inexplicably overcome with the desire to make a pruning cut with my wrong hand. Which I wouldn't.

But what makes the Coronas really comfortable is the different shape of the blade and hook. See it below as compared to the Felco #9s:
 The difference is so subtle that you might not be able to see it at first--I know I didn't. But the Corona blade and hook are not uniformly curved, and the effect is that the jaw opens much wider at the rear. This means that it is not necessary to open your hand a lot wider to accommodate a bigger branch--something that means a lot if you are having to do a lot of pruning.

I used the Coronas for several months, and in fact during that time they did indeed become my go-to pruners. But to be fair in the review, I decided to purchase a pair of the Felco 9s for comparison, since they seemed to be the model closest to the Coronas. And I do like the Felco 9s--just not as much as the Coronas. They are just fine, and had I bought them first, I might have looked no further. But the truth is, they don't seem all that special when compared to the other pruners I can buy at the hardware store, and when choosing between tools for a pruning task, I find I reach for the Coronas. The Felcos have a slicker handles that don't feel as good in my hand, for one thing, and for another, I have to strain more when opening my grip for a bigger cut. The latter, in my book, is huge when it comes to having a pair of pruners that feel like they are an extension of your hand.

So that's it. I love the Coronas. They have one little thing that bugs me, and that is that the locking mechanism has a bit of a tendency to close on its own when the pruners are pointed down. But that's a little thing, and as time has gone by, it does it less and less--perhaps because it is getting gummed up. In any case, I can live with it.

I'll keep all three, since I prune a lot and I always seem to be looking around for my pruners.Three will maximize my chances of finding a pair. I'll hope that they are the Coronas.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, I need some new pruners (the old ones have served their time), so I'll check those Coronas out.

    Look forward to seeing you in Asheville!