Secateurs are bypass hand pruners and a must-have cutting tool for all gardeners. The slicing action of secatears is similar to that of a pair of scissors. Secateurs are designed to prune woody stems up to about three-quaters of an inch thick.
Top quality secateurs have a replaceable tempered carbon steel blade and handles made from a strong, light vinyl-coated aluminium alloy.
Secateurs are not ambidextrous as the cutting blade is beveled on one side. If you are left handed, be sure to buy left-handed secateurs.
The best secatuers are manufactured by a Swiss company called Felco. Felco pruners have replaceable high-carbon steel blades. Their comprehensive range includes an excellent left-handed model (Felco Model 9 Classic Secateurs Left Handed). The only criticisms one hears of Felco pruners are (1) the cost (2) the spring tends to fall out and get lost
Anvil hand pruners chop rather than slice. As such, the cut is not as clean. Also, the anvil impedes a really close cut. Anvil pruners are very good for pruning tough dead wood.
Secateurs suffer damage is a twisting action is used to try and break a branch - it bends the blade and stops them from cutting. Secateur blades should be cleaned (to remove sticky residues) and oiled.
Hand pruners - secateurs