Fiskars-Ratchet-Drive-Lopper Pruning & Cutting Tools

Fiskars Ratchet Drive Lopper: Product Review


GPR RECOMMENDATION

Ease of Use
Quality
Cutting Performance:
Summary

A good anvil lopper for cutting wood, but only up to 1½”diameter

Overall Score 3.6

Available on Amazon

Buy It

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).

SPECIFICATIONS

  • 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.

fiskars-anvil-lopper-green-handle

Operating instructions on the handle tell you how to operate the lopper properly

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.

firskars-ratchet-loppers-blade-steps

The 6 steps/notches in the ratchet give the lopper its excellent cutting power.

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.

fiskars-ratchet-loppers-blade

The extremely sharp cutting blade and the softer aluminum anvil make up the cutting head of the lopper

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.

Fiskars Ratchet Drive lopper cutting 1.5 inch branch

The ratcheting lopper made nice clean cuts through 1½” 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.

fiskars-ratchet-drive-loppers-cutting-thru-2-inch-branch

The lopper had a tough time cutting 2” deadwood

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.

EXOSKELETON DESIGN

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.

fiskars-ratchet-loppers-exoskeleton

The exoskeleton design seemed to strengthen the lopper.

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.

fiskars-ratchet-loppers-curved-handles

Curved handles make it easier to cut without fully opening your arms. The molded FiberComp® handle material adds strength without compromising weight.

SAFETY FIRST

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.

WARRANTY

The Fiskars Ratchet Drive lopper has a lifetime warranty against defect in materials and workmanship.  For additional warranty information visit the Fiskars website.

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.

RECOMMENDATION

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

Your best bet is to buy the product on Amazon for around $42.  Other retailers include the Home Depot, Walmart, Sears, eBay and at the Fiskars website.

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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Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank Fiskars for giving us a free sample to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.

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