Thanks for all of your great posts! I so appreciate them.
I have eight appletrees (so far). Five were planted two years ago, and the remaining three last spring. It's time to prune them, and plan to do that in about a week. I'm wondering if you can recommend a good pruner for this spring pruning? I have a regular bypass pruner, but is there is a special tool for fruit trees that would work better? Any help you can offer will be most appreciated! I also have raspberry plantings and 3-year old apricot bushes, and would need to know if whatever you recommend would be good for those, too.
A good "pruning for dummies" resource--book or video--would also be helpful. I have a few books already, but it seems difficult to get through them.
You can definitely prune your trees with a bypass pruner. You'll want to add a lopper or a pruning saw to your kit once the branches you are cutting get to be more than an inch or so thick, as most hand pruners cut between .5 inch to 1 inch diameter branch.
There are lots of choices as far as brands and specifics styles of pruning tools.
I really like bahco pruners and loppers. The steel is really good and they are made to last under heavy use. Read: Lifetime tool for the average user.
As for saws, there are even more choices! Not just brands but also lengths and and teeth density etc.
Here are a few things I've learned: Generally, a given length blade will cut a branch diameter of half the blade length. IE. A 10 inch blade will easily cut up to a 5" branch. This can probably be extended but you get the idea.
TPI stand for teeth per inch. Basically, the less teeth per inch the faster a saw will cut but it will leave a rougher edge. More teeth per inch will cut slower but leave a smoother edge. In my experience, I prefer a medium 7-9 tpi for pruning fruit trees and reserve a larger saw with less teeth (5-6 tpi) for cutting pines and firs in the forest.
The very fine saws (10tpi and above) seem to be best suited to woodworking where one might be cutting something dry and hard
All of the above details being equal, a curved saw might cut faster than a straight saw, but a straight saw is better for pruning where branches are crowded.
The Silky brand makes very good pruning saws. The Gomboy might a good choice for you.
On small apple or pear trees, it's worth while to sterilize you shears between each cut or at least each tree. I've had a lot of fireblight problems. I have four random, moderately priced shears, so I can make a few cuts, then sterilize them all together.