2008-08-22

On Gloves, Roses, and Blackberries...

Bionic Rose Gloves-Men's - X- Large Green $44.95/pair [I shopped around a bit, got mine for $41.95/pair, free shipping (ActiveForever.com)]
Harbor Freight: 3 PAIR WELDING GLOVES ITEM 488-3VGA $9.99

Gloves. Yes, I use them. In this case, for the purpose of dealing with ... Roses ... and ... Blackberries! [like the heading didn't give that away...]

Bionic makes a nice Rose Glove, very form fitting, yet supple, flexible, a bit of stretch and give. Pigskin hand, some reinforcing, nice fabric to the sleeves which are long. Get this, machine washable, no, really! Haven't had any trouble with the roses, haven't got stuck. Blackberries, on the other hand, are more robust, with more and narstier thorns, so some creep through, but not too badly.

Harbor Freight markets welding gloves, amongst other things. If you aren't familiar with Harbor Freight, they're an online/brick&mortar Discount Tool & Hardware merchant, and really, they aren't too bad. If you want to try a tool, but don't want to spend the big bucks, they'll do. If you want something you won't cry over when it wears out, ditto. The Big Boys will provide a more finely machined tool, with more precision in your results, but for day in/day out okay-if-a-little-slop, can't be beat. And they don't cost an arm and a leg.

Anyway, they have these welding gloves, I initially got them because they are well insulated, keep my hands warm in the winter. They also do a good job with blackberries, hardly any stickers get through. Sleeves don't go as far up the arm, not anywhere as nice a fit, and don't think about knitting, let alone fine embroidery. Bionic's gloves, embroidery is a possibility.

When just diving into bramble, no subtlety involved, Harbor Freight does fine. When mucking about in the dirt, trying to trace roots and pull them out of the ground, go Bionic; feels like nothing between you and roots, practically, but your hands are clean afterwards, no semi-detached nails, no dirt ground into the quick; I know, sounds gross, and speaking from experience its far worse than gross. Not a problem with Bionic. Can't be done with the welding gloves, fine manipulation is not their forté [hope i got the accent going the right direction...], protecting from heat & sparks, not to mention thorns, is.

One thing neither has, which I'm going to add, are grommets. I want to be able to hang the pair I'm not using from a caribiner, off my belt, so when I switch back and forth they're easy to get to.

Harbor Freight also sells some nice RATCHETING BYPASS LOPPERS. One caveat, don't apply too much pressure, the handles, when fully extended, may bend a little when abused; I need to unbend mine, but I can't really call it a design problem, I saw it happening and kept right on going, like an idiot. The handles, via a twist-to-loosen/twist-to-lock mechanism, extend from ≈18" to ≈31", which is handy indeed. The twist system is solid, not chintzy. Price? $14.99, can't be beat.

As long as I've spread out to yard-mastering tools in general...

Fiskars, yes, the scissor folks, make a dandy limb pruning saw, cuts on the pull, and with the twist of a knob can slide the blade back into the hollow handle. Officially marketed as Power Tooth® Sliding Pruning Saw-6 inch (Stainless), don't let that scare you, it cuts through 3" Rosemary like nobody's business. Comes with this dorky belt clip, don't bother, if you rely on that clip you'll soon realize you've lost the saw, as it falls off far too easily. Better to just tuck it into a pocket. I got mine at Sears. Fiskars currently lists it for $12.99, I don't remember what I paid, but I remember there being ... a sale ... involved, end of summer, clearing out seasonal inventory, that kind of thing; I always check those out when I see them. I mean, so some nifty storage containers are black & orange, for Halloween, they look just fine next to the green/red ones, from Christmas...

Anyway, a very nice pruning saw, doesn't have a frame to limit your approach, cuts on the pull [which enables 1) thinner blade and 2) less effort on your part, our arms are more effective pulling than pushing.], collapses to a reasonable size, lightweight, sturdy. All of which contributed to my deciding to purchase it.

Bypass Pruners are crucial when dealing with Roses & Blackberries. I don't remember the brand on mine, I picked them up at Fred Meyer some years agone, thinking Mom would like them; too complicated for her taste, so I'm using them. For which my wrists thank me. Bypass pruners, like the bypass loppers, multiply the force applied to them, making them very handy if you aren't The Hulk.

When dealing with big branches, get a real saw. I use a Japanese-style saw
I bought at Woodcraft, «Saw, 240mm, Crosscut Razor», #02P62, currently sells for $29.99. One of the advantages over buying a similar saw at Harbor Freight is that you can purchase replacement blades. Bill uses a herkier style saw, a Ryoba, which he also uses for framing, etc. Then again, he has one, I don't. And for pruning way up in the air, a Pruning Saw is useful. Me, instead of buying one, I made an adapter and attach the Razor Crosscut at the end of a long pole, works for what I do. Anyway, this saw will handle up to 4" thick branches without much problem, any thicker and I'd go with Bill's choice.

Back to blackberries. When digging around at the roots, wear good knee pads, you will not regret it. I've got some gel-lined pads I got from Duluth Trading Co., after yesterday I'm dragging them out to the garden with me; they're not just for crawling around on joists between floors any more.

Having spent far too much time on this, off to other stuff.

Hope someone finds this of use!

So...

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