Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 5
   August 2012
   Interesting Tools
Interesting Tool
This device for trimming hedges differs considerably from the standard pair of shears. It appears that it was intended to take a broad swath to speed up the process; however, on examining this tool, one might wonder if the Disston Company, which made many fine saws, might have made an error here. Although there is a 6.5 to 1 mechanical advantage, with branches in all the cutting spaces it would take considerable strength to press those handles together, especially with the high bevel angle of the teeth. Unless the user wanted to apply the same force in separating the handles for a cutting stroke, an action that would likely mean sore muscles, a slight withdrawal would have been necessary after each stroke. This would not have made for speedy shearing.
Interesting Tool   Interesting Tool

The illustration in the patent application (see page 2) shows that the device as manufactured by Disston differed considerably from the patent rendering in tooth design. It also shows an attached pan to catch the cuttings. The example in our collection does not have that pan, probably because the original owner discarded it. The pan could not have been useful with the blades vertical while shearing the sides of a hedge, so it must have been intended only for shearing new growth on the top. It appears that the inventor was well aware of the limitations of his device, as his patent application mentions only that it is meant to "trim off the top branches and leaves of the hedge as the trimmer is moved over the same". Not many of these are still around. It is likely that Disston did not long persist in trying to persuade the public that this was a useful tool.

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