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What are edging shears made of?

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Blade composition

Carbon steel diagram

Carbon steel

Most blades on edging shears are made from carbon steel. This is a metal alloy formed by mixing iron and carbon, along with a few trace elements such as copper and manganese. Even a tiny amount of carbon makes steel much stronger, although the more carbon added, the harder and more brittle the steel becomes.

Low cost edging shears Carbon content typically varies between 0.05% and 2%, and is usually at the lower end of the range when it comes to cheaper tools.
Stainless steel edging shear blades

Stainless steel

Some blades are made from stainless steel. This is an alloy containing chromium, which is a hard, strong and shiny metal that resists tarnishing and corrosion.

Drop forging showing ram and hammer

What is drop forged steel?

The blades of edging shears at the upper end of the market are often drop forged, which involves compressing heated steel into the shape of a mould using a hammer-like tool. The process strengthens the internal structure of the metal and makes harder, more durable blades.

What are blades coated with?

Edging shear blades with non-stick PTFE coating

PTFE

Blades are often given a non-stick coating to protect against rust and reduce friction, enabling them to cut more smoothly. Known as PTFE, it’s the same synthetic substance found on non-stick saucepans. Sometimes only the upper blade is coated – this is the one that does the actual cutting while the other blade remains flat on the ground.

Titanium coated edging shear blade

Titanium nitride

Another type of non-stick coating is called titanium nitride. This is an attractive gold-coloured, ceramic-based substance which hardens and protects the blades while reducing friction. It is less common than PTFE.

Chrome-plated edging shear blades

Chrome

More expensive edging shears may have chrome-plated blades. Also known as chromium, this is a metallic element which gives a durable and shiny finish to make the blades smooth, resistant to corrosion and easy to keep clean.

Handle composition

Steel handles of edging shears

Steel

Many edging shears have handles made of tubular (hollow tube-shaped) steel. This has the advantage of being sturdy and long-lasting, but some users find steel handles make the shears rather heavy.

Edging shears with aluminium handles

Aluminium

Aluminium is a popular material for garden tools, being strong, lightweight and highly resistant to corrosion. It’s not as hard as steel however, and is more prone to dents and scratches.

Wooden edging shear handles

Wood

Usually consisting of ash, beech or oak, wooden handles are still popular with many gardeners due to their traditional look and feel. These handles tend to be a bit heavier than plastic ones, and need to be oiled regularly to avoid cracking. They are attached to the blades by steel ferrules (sleeves).

Rubber grips on edging shear handles

Thermoplastic rubber

Thermoplastic rubber is a synthetic material which springs back into shape after being squeezed, so is often used for the grips at the top of edging shear handles. The cushioning effect makes the shears comfortable to hold for long periods.

What are handles coated with?

Powder coating gun

Powder

Most metal edging shear handles are powder-coated. Dry paint or epoxy resin (a kind of plastic) is applied to a pre-treated part through an electrostatic spray gun, which sends an electric charge through the particles to attract them to the workpiece. The handles are then ‘cured’ – heated so that the particles fuse together and harden to form a protective covering.

Orange, grey steel and yellow edging shears The powder coating can leave the handles with their natural steel look, or give a coloured paint finish.

Some gardeners prefer brightly painted handles so they can find the shears easily if they leave them in the grass.

Lacquered edging shear handles

Lacquer

Wooden handles on good quality edging shears may be sprayed with lacquer. This is a durable coating which can be based on either natural resin or synthetic plastics, and provides an extremely tough, glossy finish.