Three Favourite Shears

My Top Three Topiary Shears

Over the years I have developed quite a collection of topiary shears. They all have their own different characteristics, and that’s not just the price. Some work better on thicker stemmed shrubs, others are more suitable for a faster clipping action – a lot depends on their weight, balance and type of steel used to make their blades.

I can’t take you through my entire collection as this post would be far too long. So I’ve picked out the three I use the most. They are all made in Japan – no surprise as this country is leading the way in manufacturing quality shears.


Niwaki Topiary Shears

These are beautiful shears and the ones I use most for clipping Buxus. The handles are white oak and feel wonderful in the hand. The blades are made from Aogami Blue Paper Steel – the same quality often used for knives.

The steel blades are quite thin for shears and they should only be used to clip soft stemmed plants such as Buxus. But this steel quality does mean you can create an amazingly sharp edge by regularly running a sharpening stone over the blades.

The advantage of sharp blades is a cleaner cut that heals over quicker. This is especially important for Buxus to avoid the ugly browning of the foliage that can occur after clipping.

These shears have a real artisan feel to them that adds to the enjoyment of the clipping experience. They don’t have shock absorbers between the handles so this increases the impact strain on the wrists. But this is compensated by a fantastic clipping sound that helps me maintain a good, rhythmic trimming action.


If the Niwaki Topiary Shears are a classic car then these ARS shears are a sports car. As their name implies, they are lightweight and really well balanced.

The handles are long and ergonomically designed so they rest well on your forearms when holding the shears with your hands high up near the blades. And they have a red, non slip grip that make the shears easy to find when left on the ground.

The blades are shorter that the Niwaki Topiary Shears. This is helpful for working around curved shapes but not so good for clipping large, flat surfaces. The blades are made from high carbon steel with a hard chrome plated finish. Not as refined as the Niwaki blades but don’t need sharpening as often.

There are two small shock absorbers between the handles that take a lot of strain off the wrists when clipping. These shocks also means the handles sort of bounce together and apart, helping develop a fast clipping action. But sadly the clipping sound is no match for the Niwaki Topiary Shears.


To keep going with the car analogy, I would say these shears were a mid range, family saloon. Excellent all-round shears that work as well clipping the softer stems of Buxus as they do cutting the thicker stems of Taxus (yew) or Lonicera nitida.

The handles are Japanese white oak, like the Niwaki shears. One negative is the shiny vanish that can get slippy with wet (or sweaty) hands. However this does lessen with age and use.

The blades are Izumo steel- apparently the same metal as is used for Japanese swords. They hold a sharp edge really well but will need sharpening more often than the ARS shears. I run a whetstone over the blades every time I use the shears to maintain the sharp cutting edge.

Okatsune shears are available in a variety of blade and handle lengths. I’ve opted for the short-handles with medium sized blades because I find these suit my clipping action the best. Some might find the longer handled shears more comfortable because the handles can be tucked in along  your forearms and take some of the pressure off the wrists.

Talking of wrists, these shears don’t have shocks between the handles so there can be some impact strain on the wrists after continuous use. But you will notice a wonderful clipping sound that’s missing with the ARS shears.

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