Black & Decker Cordless Pruner (#BD1168): Product Review
I hoped to like this little pruner, but I found it underpowered and a poor choice for small hands.
Available on Amazon
To put the Black & Decker cordless pruner in perspective, let me tell you a little story …
Kleenex™. Barbie™. Xerox™. Play-Doh™. Thermos™. You’ve “arrived” when you become a household name. All of those brands listed are proprietary eponyms, which is when a brand name becomes so well-known that it’s used even when describing generic, look-alike products from other makers.
One hundred years ago, Black & Decker™ meant a portable, electric drill of a very similar design to the one you probably own. It’s hard to imagine given how crowded the marketplace is today with scores of drill brands, but in 1917, Black & Decker™ stood in a class by itself when its electric drill hit the market as the first, best, and only tool-maker to combine a trigger switch and pistol grip.
Today, Black & Decker still makes power tools, but they also make home cleaning tools, small appliances, and garden tools…like the Cordless Pruner (Model #BD1168).
Unfortunately, even well-established companies can’t bat a thousand with every product they offer. While I love the concept of a lightweight, cordless pruner, I think this one struck out.
|Weight:||1.32 lbs. (.6k)|
|Materials:||Body is Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) polymer; blade is chromium coated SK5 steel|
|Rated Voltage:||3.7V (4V max Lithium)|
|Battery Charger:||RWX01-ADCW-050100U (included)|
|Charging Time:||25-28 hours to fully charge; 4 hour minimum charge|
|Cutting Capacity:||8mm (approximately 1/3 of an inch) for hardwood; 13mm (approximately 1/2 of an inch) for softwood.|
|Warranty:||2 year limited warranty covering defects or workmanship|
The 14” x 13” cardboard box arrived at my door in good shape. Once I opened the outer package, I found a smaller, securely bubble-wrapped box.
Once I rolled back all of the bubble wrap, I found the Black & Decker Cordless Pruner in a molded cradle, battery charger, a plastic blade protector and operating instructions.
Having recently purchased a plethora of Chinese-manufactured products that arrived in crushed boxes with tragically translated instructions, the box, instructions, and tool stood out as exceptionally well packaged.
“ANTICIPATION…IS KEEPIN’ ME WAITIN’…”
The instructions told me to charge battery for 25-28 hours before using it for the first time, since it was shipped fully drained from the factory. I’ve recovered from major surgery in less time than that, but fine. I told myself that it would be worth the wait. Besides, the manual says that the battery will stay charged for up to 18 months, which must be some sort of record for a rechargeable battery.
The next day, I took it outside to test it. I couldn’t get it to work. I reread the instructions: “Press and hold the on/off key and press cutting trigger twice for no more than one second.” Nothing happened.
I recharged it for an additional 4 hours. Bingo! This time it came on. Time to start pruning!
The on/off switch sits behind the trigger and trigger guard. It’s important to note that the on/off switch also functions as a safety. To operate the pruner, you must depress and hold this switch PLUS the trigger.
DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?
I set out to remove some lower branches from the oak tree over my fish pond. As I neared the tree, I turned the unit on by holding the on/off (safety) switch and pressing the trigger two times. The blade came to life, opening like the mouth of a steel fish. I brought the pruners to the branch and pulled the trigger. The blade came down around the branch. And got stuck mid-cut.
I flash backed to 30 years earlier when I purchased my first chainsaw. Inexperienced but “too smart” to read up on how to drop a tree, I made a straight cut into an oak. Around the halfway mark, the weight of the tree clamped down on the bar. My new chainsaw remained part of that tree for weeks until a chance windstorm brought the tree—and my saw—crashing down.
Back to the pruner. The manual stated that the tool would cut 1/3 inch of hardwood. The branch I was cutting came closer to ¼ of an inch. I wrestled the pruner out of the branch, since depressing the trigger didn’t release the blade. By now, it was raining, so I brought the tool inside (per the instructions to not expose the unit to rain or snow).
I had just bought long-stemmed roses for my wife and my mother-in-law in advance of Mother’s Day. Usually, I cut the rose stems with kitchen scissors since I’m already in the kitchen with the scissors and my handheld pruners are…well, not in the kitchen. But since I had my new cordless pruners literally in hand, I gave them a go on the rose stems.
Sort of. The blade moved up and down around the stem as it should. But it didn’t sever the stems. To cut the stem completely through required 2 or 3 cuts.
At this point, I reached out to my helpful contact at Black & Decker and explained the situation. I explained that I may have bent the blade cutting the tree branch, rendering the tool incapable of cutting even a rose stem. I returned the original tool for them to inspect, and they quickly shipped me a replacement to test.
Like the first pruner, I charged it fully before using.
After charging and turning the pruners on, I returned to the still-dangling branch that had hung up the first pruner. The replacement pruners had no problem cutting through that original branch. I released the trigger, and the blade reset, ready for the next cut. To be sure, I made several other cuts on that original branch. Each pull of the trigger made a clean cut, and the branch fell clear.
I returned to the rose stems. The pruner cut neatly through those, too. The compact size of the pruners made it easy to maneuver when getting to the base of unwanted vines, suckers, and other errant branches.
THE GOOD AND THE NOT-SO GOOD
To give the pruners a more complete workout, I had 2 men and 2 women use it and give me their impressions. On the plus side, we all liked the packaging. It looked top-notch from the moment we removed the bubble wrap.
Second, the pruner can be used with a right or left hand equally well. This is especially helpful if you need to get into a tight place that’s more readily reachable using the opposite hand.
Third, men found it light weight enough to use with ease (more about that later).
Fourth, the unit has a small LED light in the nose, bringing a little extra light in dark spaces.
Finally, the slightly pebbled ABS surface made gripping the tool more secure with bare hands or gloves (which the company recommends).
On the down side, the cordless pruner didn’t fit naturally into the hands of the two women testers. They told me the unit was “too thick” and “too heavy” for them to get a comfortable squeeze on both the safety and the trigger.
Second, the biggest selling point of this cordless pruner is that it would be good for people with limited hand strength. I asked my arthritic, garden-enthusiast mother-in-law to try the cordless pruner. She reported that holding down the safety of the Black & Decker Cordless Pruner caused her more discomfort and strain than using traditional, non-powered pruners.
Third, since the pruner can only cut 1/3 to ½ an inch, it lacks cutting power. My mother-in-law was able to cut thicker branches with less discomfort using traditional, non-powered pruners.
Finally, while the replacement pruners performed better than the first, my difficulty with the first tool makes me concerned about quality control. The first pruners failed to cut through a small branch or even rose stems, making me wonder if I had bent the blade right out of the box.
Black & Decker offers a limited 2-year warranty on their products that covers defects and workmanship. A defective pruner can be exchanged at the retailer with proof-of-purchase, or serviced at Black & Decker Service Center (also with proof-of-purchase). Save your receipt to make exchange or repair easier.
I wanted to like the Black & Decker Cordless Pruner, but it’s not a tool that I will use very often. While those with larger hands may find it comfortable to use, gardeners with smaller hands or those with arthritis or little grip strength may have trouble with it. It has limited utility as it won’t cut through anything thicker than ½ inch (and that’s only in softer material) and I wonder about quality control since the first one I received was defective.
Where to Buy
Neobits sells the unit online for $58.95 plus shipping (but it often is back ordered).
It’s also available on Amazon for $66.91 (free shipping).
And now over to you – Which are your favorite pruning shears? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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