A lopper is a crucial tool in the field of tree surgery, often used for pruning twigs and small branches. This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of loppers, their types, uses, maintenance, and safety measures associated with their use.

Loppers are an essential part of a tree surgeon’s toolkit, allowing for precise cuts and ensuring the health and aesthetic appeal of trees. Understanding the various aspects of a lopper can help both professionals and hobbyists make the most of this tool.

History of Loppers

The history of loppers can be traced back to the early days of horticulture and forestry. The need for a tool that could efficiently cut through branches and twigs led to the development of the lopper. Initially, these tools were simple in design and function, but over time, they have evolved into sophisticated tools that offer precision and ease of use.

While the exact origin of the lopper is hard to pinpoint, it’s clear that the tool has been a part of human civilization for centuries. The evolution of loppers has been influenced by advancements in technology and materials, leading to the modern versions we see today.

Early Loppers

Early loppers were rudimentary tools made from materials like wood and metal. They were primarily used for pruning and maintaining trees in orchards and gardens. These early versions lacked the comfort and efficiency of modern loppers but served the purpose of their time.

The design of these early loppers was simple, consisting of two long handles with a cutting mechanism at the end. Despite their simplicity, these tools played a crucial role in shaping the landscape and maintaining the health of trees.

Modern Loppers

Modern loppers are a result of technological advancements and a better understanding of tree health. They are designed to provide comfort, efficiency, and precision. Modern loppers come in various types and sizes, each designed for specific tasks and tree types.

Today’s loppers are made from durable materials like steel and aluminum, and they often feature rubber or plastic grips for comfort. The cutting mechanisms have also improved, offering clean and precise cuts that promote tree health.

Types of Loppers

Loppers come in various types, each designed for a specific purpose. The type of lopper required depends on the nature of the task, the type of tree, and the size of the branch to be pruned.

Understanding the different types of loppers can help tree surgeons and garden enthusiasts choose the right tool for their needs. The main types of loppers include bypass loppers, anvil loppers, and ratchet loppers.

Bypass Loppers

Bypass loppers are the most common type of loppers. They work similar to scissors, with two blades that slide past each other to make the cut. Bypass loppers are ideal for cutting live wood as they provide a clean and precise cut that promotes healthy growth.

The design of bypass loppers minimizes the damage to the tree, making them a preferred choice for pruning tasks. However, they may not be suitable for cutting dead or thick wood as the blades can get stuck or damaged.

Anvil Loppers

Anvil loppers feature a single straight blade that cuts against a flat surface, similar to a knife on a chopping board. These loppers are ideal for cutting dead or thick branches as they provide more power at the expense of precision.

While anvil loppers can handle tougher tasks, they may cause more damage to the tree due to their design. Therefore, they are typically used for removing dead wood or for tasks where precision is not a priority.

Ratchet Loppers

Ratchet loppers are a type of anvil lopper that feature a ratcheting mechanism. This mechanism allows the user to cut in stages, making it easier to cut through thick branches. Ratchet loppers are ideal for tasks that require a lot of cutting power.

Despite their power, ratchet loppers can be more complex to use due to their ratcheting mechanism. However, with practice, they can be a valuable tool for heavy-duty pruning tasks.

Using Loppers

Using loppers correctly is crucial for both the health of the tree and the safety of the user. The right technique can ensure clean cuts and minimize the risk of injury.

Before using loppers, it’s important to assess the branch to be cut. The size, angle, and health of the branch can influence the type of lopper to be used and the cutting technique.

Cutting Technique

The cutting technique for loppers involves positioning the lopper on the branch and applying pressure on the handles. For bypass loppers, the blade should be on the side of the branch that will remain on the tree. This ensures a clean cut and minimizes damage to the tree.

When cutting, it’s important to apply steady pressure and avoid twisting the loppers. Twisting can damage the loppers and the tree. After the cut, the loppers should be removed carefully to avoid tearing the bark.

Safety Measures

Using loppers involves certain safety measures to protect the user and others in the vicinity. These include wearing protective gear like gloves and safety glasses, maintaining a stable footing, and being aware of the surroundings.

It’s also important to keep the loppers in good condition to ensure their safe operation. This includes regular cleaning and sharpening of the blades, checking the condition of the handles and the cutting mechanism, and replacing any worn-out parts.

Maintaining Loppers

Maintaining loppers is crucial for their performance and longevity. Regular maintenance can keep the loppers in good working condition and ensure their safe operation.

Maintenance tasks for loppers include cleaning, sharpening, and storage. Each of these tasks plays a crucial role in maintaining the functionality and safety of the loppers.


Cleaning loppers involves removing any dirt, sap, or debris from the blades and handles. This can be done using a cloth or a brush. For stubborn dirt or sap, a mild detergent or a specialized cleaning solution can be used.

After cleaning, the loppers should be dried thoroughly to prevent rusting. Applying a thin layer of oil on the blades can also help prevent rust and keep the blades smooth.


Sharpening the blades of the loppers ensures their cutting efficiency. This can be done using a sharpening stone or a file. The blades should be sharpened at the correct angle to maintain their cutting edge.

After sharpening, the blades should be wiped clean and a thin layer of oil should be applied. It’s important to handle the sharpened blades with care to prevent injury.


Proper storage of loppers can protect them from damage and extend their lifespan. Loppers should be stored in a dry and clean place, away from moisture and direct sunlight. They should be kept in a closed position to protect the blades and prevent accidents.

Before storage, the loppers should be cleaned and dried thoroughly. Any worn-out parts should be replaced and the loppers should be checked for any signs of damage or wear.


Loppers are a vital tool in tree surgery, offering the ability to prune branches and maintain the health and appearance of trees. Understanding the different types of loppers, their uses, and maintenance can help users make the most of this tool.

Whether you’re a professional tree surgeon or a gardening enthusiast, a good understanding of loppers can enhance your tree care practices and contribute to the health and beauty of your trees.