As Choice regularly tests line trimmers (member content),
it may be also worthwhile carrying tests on the replacement trimmer lines/cord. Often the weakest part of a line trimmer is the cord, especially if it is not durable or breaks easily. There are a number of brands and diameters (size in mm) available and it would be interesting to know if the more expensive stronger lines are what they say they are, and are they more cost effective than say a standard line.
It is also the main consumable (outside potentially fuel and oil) for line trimmers and is bought regularly through the trimmers life.
Good idea @phb, I’ll be sure to pass the request on to our product testers.
… or doesn’t feed smoothly, or melts together on the spool, or keeps relentlessly feeding filling the yard with ‘Simpsons individual string-ettes’ so to speak. Possibly seeking some ‘professional’ tips from the people who use them daily in their line of work might be a nice side-bar - I’ve heard of people soaking spools in hot water to ‘set’ them, using talc to lubricate, dipping in water before whipping …
I’ve just realized I am adding to all the plastic waste in the environment as I whippersnip, another reason to use strong line and have analysis of alternative fittings that might do the same job.
I’ve used metal blades for some time - standard brush-cutter circular blade and more recently a metal folding blade - and strong footwear/trousers One downside of metal blades being they are completely unforgiving on things you might not be intending to ‘trim’ - such as fences … chain-wire fences for example you won’t even realise you are cutting them - like a hot knife through butter - corrugated iron on the other hand gives a lovely audio feedback warning that you have hit it … I’m sure there are toughened plastic versions of blades, but then we are back to plastic …
My dad used Circular saw blades on his brushcutters. If it was tough trees he used carbide tipped ones to avoid having to resharpen as often.
Is that the BrushDestructor ones? If so how do you find them? How often do you need to touch the arms up?
I’m not sure of the brand, the last one I bought has lasted a while as my brushcutting needs are minimal, but its a two bladed arrangement where the blades are probably 30mm wide near the centre and 15 at the ends, with a hinge point about half way I guess in case they hit something. I’ve never touched up the ends, they seem to smash rather than cut and the concrete and other hard things seem to keep them well polished.
My all time favourite was a circular blade with a chainsaw blade running around the outside, tight but not fixed hard. Essentially a 10,000 RPM chainsaw on the end of my Stihl - that needed sharpening often. There’s some crazy stuff you can get - I saw another that had 3-4 links of reasonably heavy chain … I start to think about what happens when it all comes loose …
Ah ok this is the one I have been looking at:
That looks fairly good - the one I used was off the link half way down that page - a WeedWacker - and the beaver blade with the chainsaw teeth, like something out of Friday the 13th Weedwacker works well on grass and weeds. I used the chainsaw blade on gorse years ago …
Ours is a 110 Acre block with mixed wood, grass, & weed types so we were looking at something more versatile than having to vary blades as my son does the cleaning/clearing. As I said before dad just went and bought Circ saw blades but now my son has to do the job and he is getting sick of sharpening all the time or replacing the carbide tipped ones particularly around the saplings. So we went looking for something different and why I was asking about the BrushDestructor if you were using that. I guess we will just buy it and see how it goes (at least it will be a small tax deduction), if for the cost it works well we will probably buy a spares pack to make sure we keep it going well into the future. Also will let you know how it goes across the various types of plant material.
While I’d hope to only add to any discussion on Choice in a positive way, I’ve an important complaint with the posts on this topic.
The ongoing discussion has been suggesting the use of metal cutting blades or devices in place of using nylon chord on line trimmers. This may be extremely dangerous. There is no word or caution on the safe use of metal cutting devices or even advice that line trimmers in general are not designed for such attachments. Domestic line trimmers are supplied with chord devices because they provide a lower risk than more solid devices.
I’d accept that there is a clear concern over the potential for environmental harm from the waste plastic released from the trimmer chord wear and tear. Which if any of the chords in use are biodegradable might be a good question?
As to the use of any metal blade or similar device on a line trimmer - if it is not part of the accessories available for the trimmer you purchase who is then responsible if it causes death or injury.
I’d hope Choice can respond by adding a clarifying note to the review. Generally commercial grade brush cutters used for business or rural work may have a range of metal cutting blades that are suitable. Fitting just a standard saw blade may not be safe. Perhaps future reviews should consider brush cutters and similar typically with direct drive geared heads in a separate category?
Secondly I’d hope Choice can moderate this discussion and point out or remove the suggestions that appear to recommend the unqualified use of potentially hazardous attachments.
Professional and rural use brush cutters come with additional safety features and instruction warnings/advice concerning the fitting and use of any metal based cutting devices. They do present a hazard to both the operator and bystanders
When compared to a nylon chord hitting a solid object or small rock, a nylon chord flexes and has low momentum. A metal blade has much greater mass and can cause small rocks etc to become dangerous projectiles.
I use regularly a Stihl FS250 brush cutter in a rural workplace which does have a range of metal bladed attachments, however it would have been outside your price range for the review. There is plenty of good advice in their user manual. You did include a Honda 425U in your review which is effectively a brush cutter (light duty). What did it say in it’s user manual?
I have yet to see a council or professional contractor work in public with other than line chord for trimming.
Well intention-ed advice also needs to be well considered and well informed. I hope this helps you decide on how to respond.
Fair point re safety of ‘exclusively for line’ trimmers, the flexible drive/bent shaft trimmers are almost always (if not always) sold with line trimming capability only and use of metal blades is generally outside their design specification - this point is probably worth emphasising in any review, though as always, the purchaser is responsible for reading the instructions and specifications.
It is worth noting that the Choice review covered a few models featuring gearbox drive/straight shaft and in the cases I looked at they supported the use of metal blades according to the manufacturers specification. While there was some anecdotal reference to saw blades, the serious discussion revolved around blades designed for the purpose of garden/bush maintenance, which in my experience have always been accompanied by their own instructions and specifications.
Probably also worth noting that while the original post referenced the Choice review of the machines themselves, the point of the post was actually to request a test for the line/cord - and by extension (to me anyway) any cutting medium (that meets the specification and requirements of course) - including non-cord cutters is a good segway into the safety discussion if Choice were to review same.
I take your point that a solid blade may not be the best or safest domestic/backyard implement. If you do buy a mulching blade or edge trimming kit or a domestic straight arm unit metal blade that are made available as options/extras with some domestic units those certainly come with a solid blade and may be used in a front/backyard. The safe use of these items should be highlighted but I think the manufacturers have that responsibility in the first place and Choice can add a precautionary warning to the review for the purchaser to make sure they carefully read the enclosed instructions and warnings that come with these purchases.
Even at mower parts & repair stores many of these options, extras and after market fittings are made available to the public and include some very common highly regarded brand names. I am sure some sell without providing advice on safe or appropriate usage of the attachments and I think it should be made mandatory to do so.
Our’s did come with what are circular saw blade type accessories as it is a Husqvarna Brushcuter (model is from memory a 545RXT). I didn’t make any comment in regards to domestic use as my questions related to the metal blades that @draughtrider used, and in my replies made reference to what my father had used noting that it was used on Brushcutters and was also being used on trees (which is not generally your back yard job). But as I said above I do take your point re domestic use.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments and feedback. We don’t mind receiving criticism, especially if we can improve our advice.
To clarify, CHOICE is not advising or recommending any homemade or aftermarket modifications to line trimmers. Some models have metal blades and chainsaw attachments as official accessories and of course it is imperative to read the manufacturers instructions and to ensure to use these tools with safety in mind.
I’ll be sure to pass on your feedback to our product testing team.
Anecdotal experience: I’ve a shaft-drive Stihl snipper - professional standard - and 1. trouble-free life with the machine (gets serviced regularly) and 2. it has a line-feeder system. Nowadays I’m using it far more - more of heavier work (volunteering). I’ve never purchased ‘cheap string’ and I’ve never had trouble with the more expensive string - I bought some ‘best’ string last purchase and initially it seems to be worth it (maybe). I bought some ‘triangular’ string a few years back (previous machine) and while it cuts brilliantly for a few minutes, it rapidly becomes round and indistinguishable.
The keys seem to be ‘operator: avoid-error’. Avoid bumps, scraping the head, keep the speed up to ‘does cut/uses less fuel’. I also pre-bend the hooks where the line joins the feeder.