Craftsman 60V Max Hedge Trimmer: Product Review
A high-quality cordless hedge trimmer that’s best for smaller diameter materials only
Available on Amazon
I’m a fan of my Craftsman Tools, most of which are old as Keith Richards. But I’ve become a fan again in recent months since I started testing the new line of Craftsman 60V Max cordless power tools. I loved the light weight, high-power and long run-time of the Craftsman String Trimmer and Blower I tested earlier this year.
Now as the growing season – along with the bushes hanging over the walkway to my home – have reached their heights, I am eager to put the 60V Max Hedge Trimmer through its paces.
I had high hopes for the Craftsman Hedge Trimmer as I began testing. Would it live up to the high bar set by the other Craftsman 60V Max cordless power tools?
- Approx. Unit Weight: 9 lbs with battery
- Blade Length: 24″
- Blade Action: Dual (meaning both sides of the blade cut)
- Blade Materials: Laser cut steel
- Cutting Capacity: .75″
- Battery Type: V60 MAX 2.5 Ah lithium-ion battery
- Optimum Charging Temp.: 65 – 75° F
- Battery Charger: V60 MAX fast-charge charger included
- Approx. Charging Time: 75 minutes
- Approx. Run Time: 75 minutes
- Additional Features: Power Saw that allows you to cut branches up to 1-1/2-in thick; blade sheath; part of the VERSATRACK™ Wall Organization System
Colorful graphics on the box let me know that my hedge trimmer arrived. As always, I tore open the box, took a couple of photos, and laid everything out on the floor to make sure that the box contained all of the components.
I wasted no time getting the battery charged. It’s a simple operation. Plug the unit into the wall socket. Then slide the battery into place. Given the 65-75° F charging warning in the instructional manual and the 90° F temperatures outside (and by default, in my garage), I chose to charge the battery at the nearest electric outlet next to my stovetop.
The light will flash green while charging. To fully charge the battery takes about 75 minutes (less for the first charge since the battery comes partially charged already). When the battery shows a solid green light, it’s fully charged and ready to go!
Once I got the battery charging, I flipped through the manual to see if it told me anything new. The instruction manual reads like ones found with all power tools, with plenty of warnings (like not to use under wet conditions).
Then I turned to the assembly instructions. Nothing makes me happier than finding that I have nothing to assemble as is the case with the Craftsman 60V hedge trimmer. While waiting for the battery to finish charging, I cut the plastic tie off from around the trigger.
Once the battery finished charging, I slid it into the base of the hedge trimmer housing until it made a “click.” That’s it. It’s ready to go!
As with all sharp tools, use some good common sense when “dressing” for the job. While the instructions didn’t provide copious warnings about using the tool, it’s always good to wear safety goggles and gloves. Even a small branch can do serious damage to an eyeball. As far as gloves, I like the increased grip I get from good quality garden gloves (which also put a little distance between me and anything that bites).
I would also suggest close-toed shoes like the LaCrosse Alpha Muddy Mule that I tested a few months back. Since I’m forever getting poked and scratched from branches lying on the ground, I like to protect my toes.
Start Your Brushless Motor!
As far as operating the tool, you’ll first need to remove the sheath. It’s a tight-fitting plastic piece that slides off the blade with a little pull.
The trigger has two parts: a safety lock which needs to be depressed to start the unit, and the trigger itself which powers the unit. Fortunately, the lock is placed on the trigger as a little switch.
To start the unit, wrap your hand around the trimmer so you naturally fold down the safety lock as you squeeze the trigger. To stop the unit, take your hand off the trigger. It’s that simple. Once I used the hedge trimmer for a few minutes, I forgot the lock was even there.
At the tip of the hedge trimmer is a small saw with teeth (Craftsman calls it the Power Saw). That feature allows you to cut branches up to 1 ½ inch in diameter.
The spacing on the blade teeth is quite wide, which it has to be to cut branches up to ¾-inch thick. That gap makes it easy for a finger to fit, too, which is just another reason to exercise caution and wear thick, high-quality gloves.
The unit has a bale handle to make it easy to hold from multiple angles and to increase maneuverability. Of course, it also has a blade guard to keep your hands from slipping into the moving blade teeth.
Running the Craftsman 60V Hedge Trimmer through the Paces
I tested the Craftsman Hedge Trimmer on flowering plants (nandina), bushes (beautyberry, butterfly bushes, privets, forsythias, and Saint John’s wort), and some small tree branches (crape myrtle, cedar, and Eastern red bud).
Trimming flowering plants
I have different varieties of nandina planted in my yard. If you’re not familiar with nandina, the plants are thin-stemmed, leafy, and beautiful.
Firing up the Craftsman Hedge Trimmer, I shaped the plants in no time. Compared to other hedgers I’ve used, the Craftsman seemed a little slow RPM-wise, but it had no problem making clean, surgical cuts on my flowering plants. Since several of these plants grow along the walkway to my house, I needed a straight, precise cut, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Trimming the nadinas was just a gentle warm-up, mainly to give me time to get a feel for the tool. It was then time to move on to something with a bit more substance to it.
My front walkway has seven different types of bushes along the sides, and most of them contain three or four of the same bush. The folks who owned my home before me planted bushes very close together to create a full look in a short time. While this strategy has its advantages, it also produces plants that tend to grow on top of one another over time.
Then last year, on the one small patch that hadn’t been overplanted by the previous owner, a volunteer popped up: a cute little beautyberry. But just like the kittens your kids bring home that turn into cats, the cute little beautyberry went from sprout to walkway barrier overnight. I turned my attention to the now-large bush and went at it like Bruce Lee attacking a movie villain.
In no time, I cut the bush in half, leaves and branches dropping to all sides. Then I came at it from the sides and reduced it to a three-foot tangle of limbs. Finally, I moved in to deliver the coup de grace on its still-standing frame.
And that’s when I realized that the Craftsman didn’t have as much power as I needed. While the large ¾ inch cutting blade could fit the branches in its teeth, it didn’t exactly mow through them. Mindful that the Craftsman 60V Hedge Trimmer claims to cut branches of this size, I stuck with it until it chewed through the bush, leaving just the thicker trunk behind about six inches from the ground.
The cluster of trunk growth looked to be somewhere between an inch to an inch and a half. This gave me the opportunity to use the Power Saw at the end of the blade. Per the instructions, with the machine off, I placed the Power Saw blade and the protruding red Power Saw shoe against the trunk. Then I squeezed the trigger.
The Power Saw cuts, but it takes a long time. After using it to cut all but one of the trunks as low to the ground as I could, I used my ARS SA-G18HL folding pruning saw with impulse-hardened steel blade on the one that remained. It fell clean to the ground with half a dozen strokes.
The Power Saw feature may have a place for some users, but it will not become my new “go-to” tool for cutting through 1 ½” limbs or branches.
On other bushes with thinner wood, the Craftsman performed well and created nice cuts on my yews, privets, and leafy growth. But when it encountered the thicker parts of wood, like that found on beautyberries, butterfly bushes, and holly, it took longer to cut than I expected and longer than that of other cordless units I’ve tested.
I used the Craftsman 60V Hedge Trimmer to cut my hollies vertically, to shave off some of the spiky parts that grab you as you walk by. After a short time, I found myself canted at an awkward angle and had to take a break. It would have been nice if the trimmer had a pivot on the handle to change the blade angle ninety degrees.
Trimming tree branches
Finally, I tested the Craftsman Hedge Trimmer against small tree branches to see how it would do. No, a hedge trimmer is not the best tool for that job, but I know that most people who use a hedge trimmer will likely push the limits, choosing to use the tool that’s already in their hands instead of finding the right one for the job. Hence the test. But instead of testing the tool on hardwoods, I cut softwoods only, like pine, cedar, and Eastern redbud. I didn’t try to cut anything bigger than ½ inch in diameter.
The Craftsman 60V Hedge Trimmer made clean cuts on all tree branches that fell into its teeth. It’s a nice plus to use just one tool to remove unruly growth that might hang over a driveway or garden bed instead of needing to have multiple tools on hand.
Will the Craftsman Hedge Trimmer Work for You?
Here are some things I liked about the tool:
- Easy setup. I like things that are “plug n play.” This hedge trimmer can go from the box to the yard as fast as you can charge the battery. No need to find screwdrivers or pliers to put it together. Charge it, pop in the battery, remove the sheath and get to work.
- Clean cuts. The Craftsman excelled in cutting thin materials like nandina and the tender ends of holly, butterfly bushes, and beautyberry. As it sliced through this type of vegetation, the blade never labored or hesitated as it created precise cuts in the foliage.
- Long battery run-time. The run-time of this unit is about 60-80 minutes, meaning you won’t have to make frequent stops to charge the battery. That’s more than enough run-time for most residential uses.
- Lightweight and maneuverable. Safely running the tool requires two hands: one on the trigger, and one on the handle. At less than 10 lbs., it’s easy to balance in your hands and never felt heavy or awkward. The dual cutting teeth make it easy to trim hedges from side-to-side or top-to-bottom by making small adjustments to your hold.
- Green. No gasoline, pre-mix ratios, fumes, or intolerably loud noise. It’s quieter than any gas-powered alternative, and it doesn’t use fossil fuels.
- Battery can be used with all other 60V Craftsman tools. Most people who use power tools want batteries and accessories that are compatible. Craftsman has a complete line of tools (blower, hedge trimmer, string trimmer, lawn mower, and even a chainsaw) that use the same battery! That means no more trying to find the right one for your tools. They all work!
- VersaTrack system compatible. As I’ll cover in another review, all of Craftsman’s 60V tools work with the VersaTrack system, a wall-mounted storage system that keeps your tools handy, organized, and ready when the urge to get some yard work done hits!
Here are a couple of things that didn’t thrill me about the Craftsman 60V Hedge Trimmer:
- I’ve used several trimmers over the years, and all performed well. But of all the trimmers I’ve used, I would rate the power of the Craftsman Hedge Trimmer 60V Max near or at the bottom. From the first squeeze of the trigger, the cutting motion felt somewhat anemic. While the tool works great on thin, tender growth, it lacks the power to make quick cuts in tougher or woodier materials.
- Lacks a pivoting blade. When trimming holly bushes, it didn’t take long for me to wish I could pivot the blade so I could make simple up-and-down cuts without having to stand at an awkward angle.
The Craftsman trimmer comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee. If you buy it and don’t like it, return it to get your money back. Additionally, Craftsman carries a 4-year limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.
This cordless hedge trimmer is good for light- to middle-duty residential use due to its long battery life (60 to 80 minutes on a single charge), light weight (under 10 lbs.), good maneuverability, and reasonable price. It makes clean cuts on thinner stems, perfect for users with small gardens and hedges who need to keep a manicured look.
But if you’re looking for a hedge trimmer that can muscle through thicker vegetation, you might want to pass on this one.
WHERE TO BUY
An extra battery can be purchased separately if needed.
Last update on 2020-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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