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In hard-to-mow areas, I use a string trimmer to occasionally cut back the weeds. I recently found a tool for sale which could potentially be used in a similar fashion, but without any gas. It's called a Bow-Knife Weed Cutter. I found it here, but other people sell similar tools. It looks like this:

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The spring blade can be released for storage, and sits straight. I realize it may take more energy (which I don't mind) but it is also considerably lighter in weight than a commercial grade string trimmer.

  • How long (hours) can it be used before needing to be sharpened?

  • How does it compare to a gas powered string trimmer in regards to the cutting speed?

  • How well does it handle small woody plants (ie, roses or blackberries) that I may run across?

The customer reviews I've read seemed fairly contented, but there weren't many.

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    For cutting grass, I've heard a scythe should be sharpened every 10 swings. With weeds I would imagine it's more the force it provides rather that it being razor sharp (although sharp is always good). I would guess sharpen it little and often - somewhere in between every 10 swings and 10 minutes? – Oliver Sep 24 '14 at 7:33
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I haven't used this tool specifically but I've used similar tools.

The scythe is a similar tool and the bush blade scythe is built to handle similar conditions as this tool. Typically the blade is sharpened with a whetstone every 5 minutes or so and then less frequently it is peened. Keeping these tools sharp is critical or they aren't going to work well at all. A neighbor was using a similar tool last week and it was clear that he doesn't sharpen it often... looked very tiring.

That's not all that long a blade, compared to a scythe, and while you're not swinging a heavy tool (thankfully), you are doing the high swing technique which means that most of the time the blade is not in contact with grass/brush but rather in the air. Cutting through brambles is a pain in the rear with a standard string trimmer but is reasonably easy to do with a brush cutter (DR makes one as do other vendors). So with a standard string trimmer you'd need the cutting head (there are several types - blades, single blade, etc.) to make any progress with brush greater than, say, a drinking straw's diameter. My brush cutter has a floating head and two wheels and thick line. It cuts through brambles well though not above maybe the thickness of my index finger. That tool you're looking at will cut through most of that but you'll be swinging often - good workout but it takes time. A bush blade scythe might be more effective and less tiring.

I'd probably opt for the properly sized scythe with the light bush blade for work like this. They are, though, about 3-4x more expensive. For small areas, this tool you've asked about looks like it would work reasonably well.

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  • Most of what I'd be cutting would be along the lines of half-grown ragweed, amaranths, perilla, timothy grass, only occasionally brambles. – J. Musser Sep 24 '14 at 13:31
  • @J.Musser A scythe would do very well with those sorts of plants. – itsmatt Sep 24 '14 at 16:04
  • I know. I had a scythe before it broke :P. That's why I asked this question about this particular tool. – J. Musser Sep 24 '14 at 16:09
  • Grin! I LOVE my line trimmer!! Almost (came to my senses in time however) went into competition. I've got a collection of scythes but until I can't get good gas for my trimmer, they'll stay on the wall. Great for a workout that I understand J.Musser does an awful lot! – stormy Sep 25 '14 at 21:58

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