Product Review: Wilkinson Sword Ultralight Branch and Shrub Cutter

It’s been a long time since I wrote a product review. I’ll start by saying that I don’t accept anything as a freebie in return for reviewing it.  A review will be an honest appraisal of something I’ve forked out hard cash for. Sometimes I strike lucky; other times I buy a dud.

It’s a proven fact that tools only break when you are using them! So it was with my trusty long pole lopper which somehow decapitated itself. At my local DIY centre, I chanced upon this little gizmo from Wilkinson Sword. A bit pricey I thought at £34.95 (on the Wilkinson Sword web site it’s a penny under £50!) but it’s a reputable brand and the product description on the card encasing the cutting head said
All internal action using stainless steel wiring
“Great,” I thought. “What’s hidden away inside the shaft is all stainless steel wiring. It’s going to last.” I go through loppers around every 3 years or so. I use and abuse them! Heavily! But in that 3 years (or so) I will have recorded them at least once, if not twice. Those stringy bits unstring, fray, frazzle! So having a lopper wired up rather than strung persuaded me to part with my cash.
Look at the photo, on the right, of the end pull. That’s not connected with stainless steel wiring. Hidden and inaccessible, there’s some sort of connection between wire and cord. If that connection, or the cord, breaks, there’s no way to repair it. At least there’s a 10-year guarantee to fall back on though no information on how to claim. And would such a break be “fair wear and tear”?
On the plus side, this tool is light as a feather and the head is compact – no big arm sticking out to catch on everything. Should be a doddle, eh wot? It turned out to be a real pain in the rear nethers to use. You’ll see from the photo on the left that the wire in the cutting head runs around two pulleys. Almost every time I cut a branch I had to refeed the wire over one or other pulley. Or both!
With a “normal”pole lopper, you can swing your arm out as you pull the string. I often wrap some cord around my hand so I can reach a bit to get greater pull. Here there are two options – There’s a sliding pull halfway up the shaft or, for longer reach, a handle at the bottom. This means that your pull is short and close. This limits the muscles you can use to exert that pull. The description says the lopper can cope with 25mm thick branches. I found it impossible to cut through anything more than 15mm thick, And even that was too much effort. I soon developed arm ache.
Reach wise, what you see is what you get. It’s not extendable. My old pole lopper was not far off twice as long when extended. Every lopper I’ve ever owned has had the option to attach an included saw head. This doesn’t. You don’t get much versatility for your money.
This is going to end up as an expensive way to cut down lythrum and other pond plants. At least I found it did that OK. Easier than laying a ladder down across the pond and crawling out over the rungs to cut things down. And light enough to reach out horizontally.
There is a safety lock. This, though, only prevents you from using the mid-shaft pulling mechanism. It is still possible to operate the cutting head if you catch the bottom handle on something.
Marks out of ten? Two (for its lythrum cutting abilities)! I will probably buy another normal corded type of lopper before long.
The photographs used in this review were downloaded from the Wilkinson Sword web site.

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