Answer this question – What is the best way to cut woody material an inch in diameter and smaller? Top answers have been a machete, a hatchet, an axe, and ideally a small saw. A machete? Sure if you are going through the jungle. A hatchet? Why not, the avid outdoorsman loves the risk of a bad swing with a heavy weight forward sharpened tool. An axe? Seriously? A small pruning saw is the ideal tool (no swinging involved) but it wears you out after multiple pieces of wood.
What about a pair of pruning shears? A little known piece of essential outdoorsman equipment like pruning shears are more valuable for the small stuff than all of the above tools combined. Pruning shears are lightweight, portable, uncomplicated, and anybody can use them. Florian tools designed, produces and sell the original ratcheting pruning shears called the Florian RP-701. I put the 701 to the test and it exceeded all my expectations.
When I worked as a Forester, my job was to roam the Tennessee country side and collect data on the landscapes. This is where I learned that a good pair of pruning shears is worth their weight in gold. I would traverse up and down hills and mountains, through water and mud, and worst of all navigate impassable areas full of briars and Rhododendron. Any type of woody briar is its own hassle, but Rhododendron is an insane beast of a woody plant that sets itself up in huge groves, mostly along water ways and good timber. Every time I have been hurt in the bush it is directly because of those two plants. You cannot successfully navigate a grove of Rhododendron with a machete because the plant absorbs the strike and you will wear yourself out after three or four feet. For the same reason you cannot use a hatchet, well that and you will end up hitting yourself or a buddy. A saw does not perform any better and will wear you out. With pruning shears you just extend your arm, squeeze the handle, and viola! Rhododendron, briar or small woody material is out of the way. No muss or fuss and next to no energy expended.
I have used almost every brand of pruning shears available on the market as an outdoorsman, gardener, and trial crew member and this is by no means a side by side comparison, but the Florian RP-701 is by far my favorite. Made in America, the 701 is made of fiberglass-reinforced nylon with the exception of the blade and ratchet components, making it incredibly lightweight. The high carbon spring steel pruning blade is thin, strong, sharp and coated with Teflon to resist residue buildup. The 701 is the original ratcheting hand pruning system. The patented Ratchet-Cut mechanism works like the jack on your car. The mechanism multiplies your strength up to 700% when pruning with this hand pruner, which is ideal for people with weak, arthritic or tired hands. The 701 also comes with a lifetime guarantee. (http://www.floriantools.com/guarantees/701handpruner.pdf ) Florian Tools specs the 701 at cutting no more than ¾ inches, but I have on several occasions, cut at least 1 inch thick branches with the 701. This is however not recommended by Florian tools, because you need to really push it onto the branch and possibly wrench the tool and this can possibly damage the blade. I, as yet, have never had this happen though. There is also a Cordura Nylon holster for the 701 that is sold separately (less than 6 bucks).
I took the Florian RP-701 with me out to an area that I knew had large amounts of vast groves of Rhododendron, as I said before I HATE (guttural sound) Rhododendron. I had flashbacks and started sweating immediately when I approached it. I immediately took out the 701 and started getting to work. After a few waves of my wrist the violent woody plant threat was nonexistent. Which was great because after the one sided fight with the Rhododendron I found my other woody arch enemy, Green Briar. In order to get to the woody grove I had to cross a creek and I got kind of wet. I did find another dryer crossing but it was covered in green briar. Again with my flicking of the wrist and little squeeze here and there and no more green briar. Good thing too because I was wearing shorts. The 701 performed well in making kindling for a fire as well. I was able to build up a decent kindling pile from round branches in less time than with my belt knife, saw or a hatchet, and I expended far less energy and I was much safer.
The Florian RP-701 Pruner can be found at the Florian Tools website, http://www.floriantools.com/pruning_tools.html , for $36.95. I did find them for $26.95 at a couple of retail websites. The RP-701 comes in 4 colors, my favorite, yellow (easily seen), black, red and purple. The red and purple are designated the RP-601, however they are the same pruner.
The Florian Tools RP-701 performed better than expected. The pruner was tested against some pretty extreme East Tennessee Appalachian woody plant species. Having used several other brands in my work experience, I found the Florian pruners better than most for three reasons. The 701 is lightweight, durable and sharp, and stays that way after repeated use. These pruners are comparable in price to any other pair at any home-improvement superstore down the block. The difference is the quality and a lifetime guarantee. The next time you find yourself in a situation that calls for the cutting of small woody material an inch in diameter or smaller, consider something other than a machete, hatchet or saw. Way too much energy is expended in their use for small stuff and they are just not that safe. Add a pruner to your gear, something lightweight, durable and transportable. The RP-701 by Florian is what I will be using.
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