Snippy, snippy, cut, cut... a how to guide for buying garden blades...

Niwaki sentei secateurs, Niwaki lightweight secateurs, Niwaki snips and Niwaki flower scissors - buying guide from Tinker and Fix

One of the most common questions we get asked when we have the Niwaki Secateurs, Garden Snips and Scissors on display at events is ‘what is the difference between them and when should you buy, or use, each of them?’

Yes, many gardeners do know the difference between a pair of secateurs, garden snips or flower scissors – but there are so many people that are new to gardening, and a lot of people who are widening their gardening knowledge (and the tools they are using) that Edd did a special ‘snippy, snippy, cut, cut’ guide to buying and using Niwaki secateurs, snips and scissors.  If you don’t already follow us on Instagram, or have missed this video – watch it by clicking here.

Or, alternatively, here’s a helpful summary of his ‘how to’ guide for picking what type of blades you should buy and use for all your cutting needs in the garden. We recommend four things:

A secateur – our preferred choice is the Niwaki Sentei Secateur

  • If you are only buying one thing for cutting in the garden, this is a great all-rounder.
  • The Niwaki Sentei secateurs are Japanese ‘A format’ (rather than shaped like an ‘s’) bypass secateurs (so they only have a blade on the top, not on the bottom)
  • You can use them to cut or prune anything up to little finger size. Anything bigger then this and you should be using a pruning saw (read our blog about pruning saws from Niwaki and Opinel here).
  • To get the best cut, you want to put the item you are cutting right into cut right at the bottom of the blades – in the jaw - (not near the top) – to give you the most cutting power.  
  • You can, of course, use Niwaki Sentei Secateurs to cut smaller/thinner items too – you just move the item closer up to the top of the blade, as less power is required.

A lightweight secateur – the ones we rate, and use, are the Niwaki GR Pro lightweights

  • These have the same principle as the Niwaki Sentei secateurs – they are bypass secateurs. And, again, you can cut items that are as big as the Sentei’s.
  • The difference is the size and shape of the Lightweight Pro – overall they are smaller – both the length of the handles and the blade has a smaller profile (the head size is smaller).
  • Its smaller size means you have the ability to get into smaller spaces and to take smaller cuts. So they offer this advantage to all gardeners.
  • Also, as it is much lighter (there’s less metal) to hold – it means these lightweight secateurs are particularly great for gardeners whose hands aren’t as strong (we do know a few more elderly gardeners who have enjoyed moving to using these secateurs as they’ve found they’ve lost a bit of hand strength.
  • Finally, the Lightweight pro has a much lighter spring action – so it recoils (opens up) much more easily – which helps if you are using them a lot as they take some of the work out of the action of cutting. We know some pro-gardeners think a lighter recoil helps to avoid hand strain when doing a lot of regular pruning and cutting.

A pair of garden snips – our favourites are the Niwaki garden snips

  • Garden snip sits between a secateur and a garden scissor
  • They will go through smaller material/branches and are not designed to be used for anything the size of your little finger.
  • Their design is different to the bypass secateurs – they are more akin to a scissor as they have cutting blades on both sides.
  • They are great for precision pruning – they very easily take of side shoots and can be used to shape plants, e.g. cloud pruning. They are also good for deadheading smaller roses. Of course you can use a pair of secateurs for all of these gardening jobs, but you would only be using the tip of the blade and they are bulkier to get in amongst the plant foliage.

A pair of garden scissors – we are big fans of the Niwaki Sentei Flower Scissors

  • These are Japanese scissors – with blades on both sides as we know scissors to be, but with unusual (compared to British scissors) that have rounded handles so you whole hand comfortably fits in. It’s hard to describe how comfy these are – you need to try them for yourself – they work as brilliantly as they look beautiful.
  • These are designed for the cutting of leafy material. Woody material is better for the snips or secateurs – these Niwaki flower scissors are for leaves and steams. They are great for flower arranging, cut flowers or deadheading flowers. Again you can do this with a snip (rather than a secateur).

So - do you need them all? No - of course you can get away with having just a pair of secateurs. But if you are getting into gardening, getting more serious, or want to give (or ask for) a gift that will be well used - these would great choices.  

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