Fiskars PowerGear2 Bypass Lopper (L5518): Product Review
A good lopper for tight spaces and for cutting 1” material and smaller
Available on Amazon
Built as a smaller version of its larger cousins, the Fiskars PowerGear2 offers many of the same benefits in a more compact version.
Blade Drive System: Gears and Cam
Weight: 2 lbs, 2 oz
Overall Length: 18”
The Fiskars lopper comes packaged with a placard attached to one handle with cable ties. It is less an instruction manual and more of a marketing piece that shows a picture of how much it will cut. It also states that it has up to 3x more cutting power (based on the gear/cam drive).
Also interesting is the Arthritis Foundation’s logo that specifies its ease of use for those with arthritis. No other packaging came with the unit.
GEAR AND CAM DESIGN INCREASES CUTTING POWER
One of the things that makes the Fiskars PowerGear2 (Model L5518) unique is the gear and cam design of the cutting blades. By incorporating a set of gears and a cam into the cutting head, the lopper offers “3x more cutting power” (according to Fiskars).
So does it work?
Well, there’s something to be said for this drive mechanism – it definitely seems to increase the power of the cutting action. I can’t tell you if that’s a 3x increase because I don’t have the same Fiskars lopper without the gear/cam drive to test it against. But I can say with certainty that the PowerGear2 drive mechanism multiplies the cutting force over that of a standard bypass lopper.
When using similar sized bypass loppers without a gear/cam system, I’ve typically been able to cut through only ¾” material. And my personal experience is that there’s a big difference in the cutting force necessary to cut through 1” versus ¾” diameter material. The PowerGear2 was able to cut through 1” diameter branches with no problem whatsoever, even when cutting tough mesquite wood.
Makes Clean Cuts Up To 1 Inch
I find that most lopper manufacturers tend to advertise larger material than the tool can actually cut (without breaking something) and the Fiskars PowerGear2 bypass lopper is no exception. Despite Fiskars’ claim that the PowerGear2 can cut through 1½” wood, I was only able to cut through 1” live material and ½” deadwood – and I’m a pretty strong guy.
That being said, the PowerGear2 did a great job at cutting 1” and smaller diameter wood. The cuts were clean and the physical force necessary to make the cuts was reasonable (I think this would be true for those with arthritis too).
The Fiskars PowerGear2 bypass lopper also made beautiful bias cuts on ½” live material and did not have any blade spread (where the blades separate from one another making the cut impossible or very ragged).
THE NON-STICK COATING SAW SOME WEAR
After only a few uses I found that the non-stick coating (silver colored blade) started to come off. I’ve used other loppers that employ non-stick coatings that have either lasted longer in testing or never wore off (at least not visibly). I was disappointed that the Fiskars PowerGear2 coating wore so quickly, although it didn’t seem to affect cutting performance. I didn’t experience sap sticking to the blades since I was primarily cutting almost sap free material and didn’t have an opportunity to test it on trees that could present a sap-related problem, such as pine. So the jury is out on that one.
COMPACT SIZE FOR EASY CARRYING AND use in COMPACT SPACES
I really liked the compact size of a this 18” long lopper, making it easy to fit in a large gardening bag, a five gallon pail or one of those medium size rubberized gardening baskets.
Its smaller length also made it very easy to reach into tighter/smaller spaces.
The maximum handle spread width with the handles fully open is 29”. This compares with 36+” for larger bypass lopper models.
Strong Handles & Non-Slip Grips
The PowerGear2 bypass lopper has elliptical shaped aluminum handles with a powder black coated exterior. When I tried (unsuccessfully) to cut through 1 ½” material, I had to use a lot of force and use my legs as extra leverage. Given the force, I expected the handles to bend or even break. Thankfully, they didn’t. This was not only impressive but a nice safety feature as well.
The grips are made of a hard plastic with a rubberized compound on the inside of the grips. The rubber-like material is a nice feature as it gave me a real command over the tool, with or without gloves on. There was some slippage with sweaty hands, but it wasn’t significant and didn’t compromise the safety or use of the lopper.
There are no shock absorbing bumpers incorporated into the PowerGear2 bypass lopper – as a result, there’s metal-to-metal contact when the cutting head is fully closed. I found this to be jarring and, even though the handle’s grip material took up some of the shock, it wasn’t enough to make the lopper any less fatiguing on the arms.
And without shock absorbers, I wondered how someone with arthritis would deal with it. The packaging clearly states in the Arthritis Foundation’s logo “Ease-Of-Use”. I can only assume that Fiskars tested the loppers with those who had arthritis and concluded that having no shock absorbing bumper wasn’t an issue. I don’t have arthritis so I can’t be objective when it comes to that aspect of the PowerGear2 lopper but I would have liked to have seen some kind of shock absorbing device.
PLACARD IS HEAVY ON FEATURES AND LIGHT ON PRUNING TIPS
The Fiskars PowerGear2 bypass lopper comes with a marketing placard that outlines its cutting benefits.
It would have been nice to have some basic pruning cut instructions on the flip side of the card. I’m a licensed arborist and know the importance of proper pruning cuts and how crucial they are to the health and vigor of a plant or tree, but not everyone is aware of how to properly use loppers. I also checked the Fiskars website but found no instructions there either.
SPARE Blade AVAILABLE
The only spare part that’s available for the 18” PowerGear2 lopper is a replacement cutting blade. If you can’t find the replacement blade on their website, a simple phone call to the Fiskars customer service department solves the problem. You can reach them at (866) 348-5661. Ask for part #01-006251. The cost of a new non-stick, silver colored blade is $7.99.
With such a small lopper, you may think that no safety equipment is necessary but don’t be fooled. As with any cutting tools, I strongly recommend wearing safety glasses (this is my favorite). A pair of gloves is also a good idea to help prevent blisters, as well as scratches when reaching into bushes. And if scratching arms is an issue then a long sleeved shirt goes a long way. I also recommend that if you’re going to be cutting branches over your head, then wearing a hard hat is a necessity.
Fiskars warrants that the product is free of workmanship and material defects for as long as the original consumer owns the product. The warranty does not cover sharpening, normal wear and tear, environmental factors, accidental damage, misuse, or industrial/commercial use.
All pruning tools that I have used over the years eventually need sharpening. If you don’t want to void your Fiskars warranty then don’t sharpen it – or avoid warranty issues by buying a new cutting blade.
At only 18 inches long, the Fiskars PowerGear2 bypass lopper is a smaller version of its larger brethren. It can get into tight pruning spaces, makes clean cuts, stays sharp even after cutting deadwood, and is comfortable to hold. However, I was underwhelmed by its inability to cut 1 ½ inch diameter material as claimed and it would benefit from a bumper between the handles to absorb shock.
Where to Buy
The Fiskars PowerGear2 is listed for purchase on the Fiskars website at the price of $28.99. It is also available on Amazon.com for $21.24 and would most likely be sold at your local garden center or big box store.
And now over to you – Would you use a smaller lopper? If you’ve tried one, what did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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