Fiskars Ratchet Drive Lopper: Product Review
A good anvil lopper for cutting wood, but only up to 1½”diameter
Available on Amazon
Fiskars has developed many different models of pruning loppers over the years, many of which have been bypass loppers. Recently, Fiskars introduced a new anvil style lopper known as the Ratchet Drive lopper, which is intended to make it easier to cut through tough branches.
Anvil loppers have one straight blade that cuts as it closes onto a flat edge or ‘anvil’ (think about it like a knife on a chopping board). Because the blade often crushes stems when cutting (unless the blade is extremely sharp), these are best used on dead wood or to trim back live wood before making a final, clean cut with bypass loppers. Because of their design, they can often cut thicker branches than bypass loppers (but if you’ll be cutting anything thicker than 2”, use a pruning saw).
- Length: 27″
- Maximum Cutting Diameter: 2″ (see review below for details)
- Weight: 3 lbs 5¼oz.
6 STEP RATCHET DRIVE
The purpose of a ratchet drive mechanism is to significantly reduce the physical effort it takes to cut through branches.
Basically, as you squeeze the ratcheting lopper handles together, the lopper’s ratcheting mechanism takes over. As you close the handles, the cutting blade bites part way into the branch. Release the top handle (attached to the anvil) and the blades stay put until you squeeze again, activating the next ratchet “step” and driving the cutting blade farther into the branch. Just a few “pumps” of the handles will drive the blade through the branch in easy ratchet steps, rather than trying to force it through all at once.
To avoid confusion when trying to use the ratcheting mechanism, there’s a green instruction label adhered to the handle outlining which handle is to be ratcheted (marked by green label) and which handle is to remain fixed (no label), while a branch is being cut. Over time the label will probably peel off so you may want to mark that handle with paint or a pen so you’ll always know which handle should be ratcheted and which should not.
There are also easy-to-follow instructions on the placard to which the lopper is attached when you first buy it.
The Fiskars ratchet drive has six steps/notches. By spreading the handles to their widest opening (36″) the last of six steps is engaged by the ratchet. This is also the point where the blade are farthest spread apart (2″).
I found that the Fiskars ratcheting mechanism provided tremendous cutting force in comparison to a regular lopper and, with the anvil style cutting head, it’s ideally suited for cutting dry deadwood.
CUTTING AND ANVIL BLADES
The cutting blade is exceedingly sharp; be careful – I almost cut myself on it. The blade is ground on both sides like a standard knife blade, and is made of fully hardened, precision-ground steel that keeps it sharp, even when cutting through tough deadwood.
Opposite the sharp cutting blade is the anvil, which is made of aluminum. When the cutting blade makes contact with the anvil (in the last ratcheting position), the softer aluminum prevents it from being dulled. The Fiskars anvil also has a recessed pocket into which the cutting blade fits, thereby making a cleaner cut.
The Fiskars Ratchet Drive lopper has a corrosion resistant, non-stick blade coating that’s supposed to stay sharper longer and prevent sap from gumming up the cutting mechanism. Basically, the slippery coating helps the blade cut through branches more smoothly, thereby reducing friction that could wear down the blade edge.
Although I saw no signs of wear during my tests, I’ve found that most, if not all, corrosion-resistant and non-stick coatings (they’re used on many cutting blades) tend to wear with extended use, thereby are exposing the uncoated metal to potential corrosion and dulling. For longer life, Fiskars recommends cleaning the tool after each use and oiling the blades.
CUTS WELL THROUGH 1 1/2 INCH BRANCHES
This lopper excelled at making nice clean cuts in up to 1.5 “material.
Although Fiskars claims that the Ratchet Drive lopper will cut through 2-inch diameter branches, I found that it took a lot of force to do so and may be unattainable for some people.
The cuts I was able to make in 2″ wood were not clean cuts. It was more of a combination of a cut and broken pieces of wood.
While the lopper held up well, it often felt like it would bend or break when forcing cuts in 2″ deadwood. That’s an uncomfortable feeling and I don’t recommend using the Fiskars Ratchet Drive lopper for deadwood over 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
The lopper may have done better cutting through 2″ material if it had more ratchet steps. For example, the Florian Maxi Lopper with 10 ratchet steps had no problem cutting through 2″ deadwood.
The Fiskars Ratchet Drive lopper has an interesting design. This is not the traditional design of two wooden or metal handles attached to a cutting head, rather it has a steel exoskeleton cutting head attached with rivets to two FiberComp® handles.
The molded handles are strong yet lightweight, somewhat offsetting the heavier weight of the cutting head. And the strength of the lopper is enhanced by extending the steel of the cutting head part way down the handles.
COMFORTABLE CURVED HANDLES
The handles and grips are made of a FiberComp®material similar to hard plastic, with grooves molded into the handle grips to reduce slipping. Instead of the usual straight shape, they curve inward so the cutting head opens all the way with a minimum of arm spread. I only had to spread the handles 36″ apart to fully open the blades. This makes the lopper easier to use for folks who have a smaller wingspan.
I recommend wearing gloves, a long sleeve shirt, pants and a pair of safety glasses (like these from Wiley X). And if you’re cutting over your head where branches may fall on you, a hard hat is a must.
The warranty does not cover sharpening, normal wear and tear, environmental factors, accidental damage, misuse, or industrial/commercial use.
As far as replacement parts are concerned, the only part that’s replaceable is the blade. It’s not offered on the website so to order a replacement, call Fiskars at (866) 348-5661 and ask for part number 71009062. The cost of the replacement blade is $4.99.
Overall, I like the Fiskars Ratchet Drive lopper. It does an exemplary job at pruning branches and cutting up brush and deadwood that’s 1 1/2” in diameter or less. In the 2″ diameter range cutting is more difficult and takes a lot of strength, especially through deadwood (which is what an anvil lopper is ideally suited to cut). The curved handles are a nice feature; you don’t have to open your arms as far to get the blades around a branch. The lopper seems well built and feels sturdy, except when cutting through thicker branches where it feels like the handles are bending.
The ratchet could be improved by adding some more steps to give it more cutting power when dealing with thicker branches.
For the price, this is a good pruning tool although I recommend it only for cutting deadwood up to 1 1/2″.
WHERE TO BUY
And now over to you – Have you tried ratcheting loppers? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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