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How To/Know How


Next to lawn mowers, string trimmers are the outdoor tool you will find most often in every garage or garden shed. In fact, it’s hard to imagine the “old days” when people actually had to use hand clippers to trim around trees, bushes and other landscape additions. The string trimmer saves time and makes your yard look great. But to limit your frustration with this tool, choose it carefully and understand how to use it properly.

Ask yourself these questions to be sure you are purchasing a quality trimmer you can live with comfortably:

  • Do you want a two-cycle or four-cycle engine?
Two-cycle engines are still the most popular. The 2-cycle engine runs on a mixture of gasoline and oil. This means you will have to mix the appropriate ratio of gasoline and oil and keep it on hand in a separate fuel container for your trimmer. But four-cycle engines (they only use gasoline, just like your mower) are gaining ground. Why? Because they are more fuel efficient, tend to be more powerful at lower speeds, run a little more quietly, generally start easier, don’t need to mix oil and gas for fuel and run cleaner, producing fewer emissions than a 2-cycle engine without a catalytic converter.
  • How do you know it’s a quality product?
If you shop at a lawn equipment dealer, you will be assured of a knowledgeable staff to help you make the right selection. As with most things, don’t buy the cheapest trimmer you find. Typically, the mid- to higher priced trimmers will be built better and last longer. Ask about warranties, as well.
  • How does it feel when you hold it?
A gas-powered string trimmer generally weighs between 10 and 15 pounds, with the curved shaft trimmers being lighter than the straight-shaft models. When shopping for a string trimmer, be sure to hold the trimmer as though you were trimming, and walk with it. Does it feel balanced? Is it light-weight enough for you to handle? Most string trimmers come with a shoulder strap to help relieve pressure on your arms when carrying the trimmer. The average homeowner will use the trimmer for at least 15-20 minutes at a time. So envision yourself carrying and gently swinging the trimmer back and forth for that period of time.
  • Straight or curved shaft?
String trimmers can have either a straight or curved shaft which connects the engine to the trimming head. The curved shaft trimmers are generally economical to purchase and work well for average-size yards. The curved shaft string trimmers are among the lightest in weight, and are easy to level for a clean cut without scalping the lawn.

Straight shaft trimmers are the choice of most landscape professionals. They provide additional reach beneath bushes and into other hard-to-reach areas. Straight-shaft models produce less vibration, which can add to their comfort level when undertaking trimming jobs that will take more than a few minutes. They often have optional attachments you can purchase for edging, hedge trimming and other trimming jobs. Somewhat heavier than curved-shaft models, straight shaft string trimmers also are more expensive.
If you will use your new trimmer for trimming under trees and bushes, a straight-shaft trimmer has the reach to make the job easier. Curved shaft trimmers are generally a little lighter in weight and easy to maneuver for trimming along sidewalks, driveways and fence lines.
  • How easy is it to change the line?
Nothing is more frustrating than running out of trimming line halfway through your job and not having a clue of how to change it.
Some string trimmers have an automatic string-advance system, which continues to feed out the nylon cutting string as needed (the string basically wears away little by little as you trim). Other string trimmers have a bump-feed string system - you must tap the head the trimmer on the ground to advance the string. Placing new string on a trimmer the first time can be challenging. Some trimmers are easier to string than others. Be sure to ask your dealer to explain and demo the system on the trimmers you are interested in. Some trimmer models accept easy-to-load, individual nylon strings that you simply insert in the trimmer head. This system works well for individuals who change the line frequently.

When choosing a string trimmer or other power equipment, an outdoor power equipment dealer can be a big help. Because they specialize in equipment, they know the products they are selling inside and out, and can spend time with you to be sure you make the right choices. Click here to find a Briggs & Stratton dealer in your area.

Article courtesy of  Briggs & Stratton