WristSaver garden tools

Garden Brand
Ed Frey

WristSaver garden tools
Garden Brand
Vertex International
701A Jefferson Ave.
SW Watertown MN 55388
Prices: $12.99 each
Web site: www.2VERTEX.com

Ergonomically designed garden tools, including #EBE-1000 trowel, #EBE-2000 V-hoe, #EBE-3000 cultivator, and #EBE-4000 shrub rake
Pros: Unique tool designs reduce strain on wrists; robust construction; comfortable grips
Cons: Blunt edges on trowel and V-hoe require extra force to work in dense soil conditions and are not well suited for severing roots while digging and weeding; trowel design not suitable for lifting established plants
After a long session of planting or cultivating, many of us, particularly mature gardeners, will be treated to aches and pains in our arms and wrists. Vertex has developed a number of aids that can not only help reduce these after-effects, but provide us with a degree of comfort while tending to our chores. I tested the trowel, V-hoe, cultivator, and shrub rake.

The Garden Brand WristSaver Tools are designed to be used with the fist perpendicular to the axis of the lower arm. This position is less stressful on the wrist than the usual in-line design of hand tools. It also helps us utilize our strength more effectively. The "sling-shot" design provides a flexible plastic strap that transfers backward-twisting forces to the top of the forearm instead of the wrist. The comfortable plastic handles of the tools are made to lock at right angles to the force vector of the work, or can be rotated back to an in-line position. I found the right-angle position to be most helpful when the work required pulling the tools forcefully toward me during cultivating. Similarly, using the shrub rake is also easier with a vertical handle position. The 21" tines are long enough to reach into the base of cluttered plants. When digging or breaking up clods with the trowel, V-hoe, or cultivator, extra pressure can be applied using the other hand on the shaft of the tool. However, digging a round hole with the trowel or digging around an established plant to lift it out, are problematic with this design.

I found the tools to be robust, with strong, welded joints and stiff shafts. After several sessions in my clay-based soils, I found no appreciable wear to their shiny plating. However, the blunt edges on the V-hoe and trowel require considerable force to cut through packed soils. Sharper edges would make them easier to work with and more effective at cutting through roots. I would prefer to have the plane of the V-hoe blade angled back in toward the handle, helping it to dig in, instead of being perpendicular to the line of force. The wrist-strap design limits lateral wriggling and rotation of the tools, which is sometimes desirable.

I don't think I'd use any of these tools with their handles in the in-line position unless vertical clearance was a problem. The support sling would be unwieldy. When used with the handle in the upright position, these truly are "wrist savers." Even with the noted limitations, I'd recommend all of these tools, particularly to folks who are experiencing arthritis or other wrist problems


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