I just purchased a really great pair of secateurs at the local garden centre. They are mini size (6.5 inches long, and about ⅔ the weight of normal secateurs) but really well made, dropped forged carbon steel. They are very easy to carry in my pocket, and the blade is super sharp. There is nothing fancy about them – they are just a neat, precise piece of engineering with curves in all the right places.
They are rated for cutting green wood up to 10mm diameter, and I have used them for most of my pruning this week, including my current bushes which they handled with ease. When it came to cutting out a thick old stem that had died back I could tell they were the wrong tool and switched to my ratchet pruners. (Of course, bypass secateurs are really only for living wood, tending to twist when they bite hard material, which risks jamming or damaging the blades. Anvil secateurs are the proper kit when dead wood is concerned)
Many modern secateurs are really quite bulky, often including unnecessary plastic parts which always end up breaking in my experience. It’s particularly galling when the catch stops working as they are almost impossible to pocket in the open position. The little metal loop catch on these cutters is simple yet sufficiently robust. Its unusual position between the handles made it initially a bit fiddly to use, but soon my muscle memory kicked in and I began to flick it open and closed without a thought.
Perhaps the best thing about these little pruners (apart from their 5 year guarantee!) is that they only cost me £5.99.
I would highly recommend these for anyone who enjoys decent gardening tools.
Kent and Stowe Traditional Bypass Secateurs
UPDATE: Nov 2021
I still use these and they are still my favourite cutters for simple snipping as I walk around the garden. Unfortunately, the catch did break, but being so small, they still fit in my pocket just fine.
These are still available online and – amazingly – at the original price to £5.99 !