Loppers or lopping shears are handy gardening tools used for pruning. Lopping shears, which require two hands to operate, look something like long-handled hand pruner. Available in handle lengths ranging from 15 to 32 inches, loppers provide extra leverage, making it possible to cut branches up to 3 inches in diameter. Lopper handles can be made from either heavy wood or lighter, stronger combined materials.
Cut dead wood with anvil-type loppers, designed with one sharp blade that cuts against a flat surface. Use scissor-type or bypass loppers to make clean and precise cuts on live branches. This type of lopping shear includes two sharp blades that cross like the blades on a pair of scissors.
Keep your shoulders aligned and your upper arms in a comfortable position when pruning with loppers. Use long-handled loppers to prune branches above you, and to use less force when cutting smaller branches.
Position the loppers on the selected branch at a location near the trunk, a lateral branch or a bud. Place the branch as close to the inside hinge of the loppers as possible.
Turn the loppers so that they will cut at a 45-degree angle. Use the same amount of pressure on both handles to make a single clean cut through the branch.
Maintain your lopping tools regularly. Apply household oil with a rag to clean and lubricate the blades and other metal parts of the loppers. Use an oil stone to keep the blades sharp, and treat wooden-handled lopping shears with linseed oil.
Clean and disinfect your lopper blades after pruning diseased branches to prevent spreading the disease when making the next cut. Dip the blades in a solution of one part bleach or alcohol mixed with nine parts water. Oil the loppers when the pruning job is complete to prevent rust.