How to Use Secateurs Safely

Secateurs are an essential tool for any gardener. They are used for pruning and shaping plants, cutting stems, and removing dead wood. However, as with any tool, there are safety considerations to keep in mind when using secateurs. In this guide, we will take you through the steps of using secateurs safely, including how to choose the right tool, how to hold and use them, and how to maintain them.

1. Choosing the Right Secateurs

  • Bypass secateurs: These are the most common type of secateurs. They have two curved blades that pass over each other to make a clean cut. They are ideal for cutting live stems and branches.
  • Anvil secateurs: These have a single blade that cuts against a flat surface. They are best suited for cutting dead wood and thicker branches.
  • Ratchet secateurs: These have a mechanism that allows you to cut thicker stems with less effort. They are ideal for people with weaker grip strength.

When choosing secateurs, consider the size of your hands, the size of the tool, and the type of work you will be doing. Look for a tool that feels comfortable in your hand and has sharp blades for clean cuts.

2. Holding and Using Secateurs

  • Hold the secateurs with your dominant hand, with your fingers through the handles and your thumb on top.
  • Position the blades around the stem or branch to be cut, making sure that the stem is in the cutting area and the blades are properly aligned.
  • Squeeze the handles together, using a firm but not too tight grip.
  • Release the handles and inspect the cut. If the cut is not clean, repeat the process.
  • Always cut at a slight angle to prevent water from collecting on the cut and promote healing.
  • Avoid cutting above the branch collar, which is the swollen area at the base of the branch where it meets the trunk. Cutting above the collar can damage the tree and invite pests and diseases.

3. Maintaining Secateurs

  • Sharpen the blades regularly using a sharpening stone or file. Dull blades can damage the plant and require more force to make cuts, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Clean the blades after each use with a soft cloth and disinfectant to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Oil the blades occasionally to prevent rust and keep them moving smoothly.
  • Store the secateurs in a dry place, away from moisture and direct sunlight.
  • Replace the blades or the entire tool if they become worn or damaged.

4. Tips for Using Secateurs Safely:

  • Always wear gloves to protect your hands from thorns and other sharp objects.
  • Use secateurs for their intended purpose, and avoid using them as a screwdriver, pry bar, or other tool.
  • Never use force to make a cut. If the blade is not cutting cleanly, sharpen it or use a different tool.
  • Keep the blades closed and the tool out of reach when not in use to prevent accidents.
  • If you are not comfortable using secateurs or have a medical condition that affects your grip strength, consider using an alternative tool or asking for assistance.


Q: Do I need to sharpen my secateurs?

A: Yes, it’s important to sharpen the blades regularly to ensure clean cuts and prevent accidents.

Q: Can I use secateurs on any type of plant?

A: Secateurs are best suited for cutting live stems and branches. Avoid using them on hard or woody stems that require a saw.

Q: How often should I oil my secateurs?

A: It depends on how often you use them and the conditions in which they are stored. As a general rule, oil the blades once every few months.

Q: Can I use secateurs to cut wire or plastic?

A: No, secateurs are not designed for cutting wire or plastic. Use a wire cutter or scissors instead.

Q: Can I use secateurs with wet or damp hands?

A: No, it’s important to keep your hands dry when using secateurs to avoid slipping and injuring yourself.

Final Thought

Using secateurs safely is essential for preventing accidents and maintaining healthy plants. By choosing the right tool, holding and using it properly, maintaining it regularly, and following safety tips, you can enjoy the benefits of secateurs without the risk of injury. Remember to always wear gloves, avoid using force, and keep the blades closed and the tool out of reach when not in use.

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