Gardening: Tool box

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The Independent Online
GARDENERS who have back problems are well aware that pruning tends to be a bend-or- stretch activity. Although stretching is less likely to dislodge a disc, it can put a lot of strain on the arms and shoulders as you reach up to lop branches. An efficient lopper reduces the risk of ending the day feeling as if you have been mauled by a sumo wrestler. Efficiency, in this context, embraces such key features as length of handles, weight, grips and cutting action.

Stuart Gilham, my source of professional advice, suggested trying Sandvik's anvil-type P174-60 lopper, which has 18in handles and is listed at pounds 27.50. It made a good impression until we tested the slightly longer Damar 8010, whose 'power lever' cutting action made inch-thick branches feel little tougher than butter. The main drawback is a big weight penalty. Damar's lopper is about 60 per cent heavier than Sandvik's.

The 8010's recommended price is pounds 31.94, but Damar is currently asking only pounds 19.95 (including carriage) for this highly commended implement.

'A joy to use,' was our


Damar International Ltd, 45 Humberstone Drive, Leicester LE5 ORE (0533 764144). Sandvik Saws and Tools UK, Manor Way, Halesowen, West Midlands B62 8QZ (021-550 4700).

(Photograph omitted)