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Japanese Garden Tools

Japanese Garden Tools
Posted on 19/06/11 | Posted by The Fat Gardener

Over the last couple of years we have added a number of Japanese garden tools to our ranges. Many customers email and ask me why Japanese cutting tools are so good and why I recommend them so often.

The answer to both questions is consistency and quality of manufacture. The Japanese factories of Silky, ARS and Okatsune are all extremely careful about the quality of steel they use, the heating process (to harden blades) and the grinding process to sharpen the blade and give a good edge. All the factories also spend time developing and designing refinements to existing products and new innovations to make the tools more effective and easier to use.

I first encountered Japanese tools about fifteen years ago and have always been impressed with their high standards of manufacture. They are masters at working with steel and the same factory that make pruning saws that are sharp, yet flexible are also experts in producing very sharp, very hard blades for pruning tools like secateurs, shears and loppers.

The Silky Saw is a great example of how the Japanese blades have improved on the very best garden tools available. For many years I used Bahco pruning saws (made in Sweden) and then later Felco saws (made in Switzerland), but it wasn't until I used a Silky pruning saw that I realised what I had been missing out on. The Silky cuts quicker and feels sharper (I have the scars to prove it!) and whilst the Bahco and Felco saws do an absolutely great job, if you want the best you have to try a Silky Saw.

The manufacturing processes between these companies seems to vary, albeit producing very high standards, but meaning each company retain their own identity and allowing customers to buy the products which suit them best. Okatsune use a special heating technique to harden their blades which involves heating the blades up to 800°C and then cooled in a five stage tempering process. ARS employ an impulse hardening system to produce their blades which involves heating up and cooling down within thousandths of a second using high frequency electical currents.

One small drawback with these Japanese tools seems to be the re-sharpening of blades, I have yet to get my cutting tools as sharp as they were when new. I am pretty good with a sharpening stone, but the grinding processes used at the Silky, Okatsune and ARS factories in Japan are so sophisticated that while I can get the blades very sharp, they never seem to get quite as sharp as when new.

Quality Garden Tools are hoping to increase our range of ARS in the near future and include their loppers and hedge shears on the website. Silky also have some new products on like the Yamabico, the Bigboy 2000 and the Todoku fibreglass pole saw all of which add to Silky's growing reputation amongst UK gardeners.

So if you've never used Japanese gardening tools, try a pair of ARS pruners, Okatsune secateurs or a Silky Saw - I promise you won't be disappointed.

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