A simple hand pruner won't cut through a 2-inch branch, and a short-armed lopper won't be of any use if you're pruning overhead. Greg Stephens of A.M. Leonard knows just what the right pruning tool is for any job in the yard. For safety when using these tools, he recommends always wearing heavy leather gardening gloves and safety glasses. And if you're doing any overhead pruning, be sure to wear a helmet to protect yourself from falling branches.
Basic pruning tools include pruners, loppers, hedge shears, and pruning saws. For small jobs, the most common tool is a hand pruner. Greg likes to use a bypass pruner, which cuts with a scissorslike motion and leaves clean cuts with less damage to branches. A hand pruner can cut through a 3/4- to 1-inch-diameter branch. Use a lopper for anything from 1 1/4 to 2 inches in diameter. Loppers come in a variety of sizes; a short-handle one is great for small, tight places, while longer handles offer extended reach and greater leverage.
If you're pruning large ornamental or fruit trees, use a pole or telescoping pruner saw. An extension pruner offers a reach of up to 10 feet, a rotating cutting head, and a rotating handle for easy access to hard-to-reach branches.
Saws are appropriate for branches with diameters of more than 2 inches. Greg recommends using tri-cut blades, most of which cut on the pull stroke. They have three cutting surfaces instead of two, and with each stroke, the efficiency of the cut is increased.
Loppers, pruners, saws, and shears are available at A.M. Leonard.