Tools for pruning and clearing trees

Serpe and machete: how to choose

Serpe and machete are used in the garden to mow, brushcutter, cut branches of shrubs or even make your way. Between the Paris serpe or the Italian serpe, the choice is based on the use. Blade with single or double cutting edge, their quality is a guarantee of durability and good sharpening.

Important features

  • Type of serpe and machete
  • Use
  • Sleeve shape and length
  • Quality and type of blade

The serpe is a kind of long knife with a wide and sharp blade and most often curved (its end is curved). The serpe is perfect for cutting small wood precisely. It can be used for work at height and be equipped with a case and a whetstone.

Its mastery requires a little practice: the gesture must be neat and assured to avoid injuring the plants. Its price is very affordable and it emits no pollution. This agricultural tool is convenient for :

  • prune small shrubs and brambles ;
  • easily prune climbing hedges ;
  • clearing the brush ;
  • remove the bark from wooden logs ;
  • etc.

Long-handled serpe

With a curved blade, this serpe is ideal for thinning or trimming hedges and lush vegetation.

Used to cut trees, prune young trees and brushwood in gardens and woods, and cut and split small wood.

Easier work with two hands thanks to a long handle of about 1500 cm.

Italian serpe

Classic and timeless, the Italian serpe remains an effective tool. It makes it possible to rough up coppices, bushy bushes.

Its leather handle is comfortable and a retainer at the bottom ensures good support and stability in the hand, the gesture is precise.

About 40 cm for less than 500 gr.

Bramble cutter serpe

This serpe has two cutters to cut, brush, prune, prune (cuts everything in its path thanks to the two cutters on its two faces).

Length of less than 60 cm and weight less than 800 gr.

One side curved blade for mowing, one side flat blade for cutting.

Serpe two cutters

Cumulation of a blade with a wide and short beak and a sharp and straight back.

Allows you to develop a significant force because the blade is heavy (developed in the hollow of the blade).

The shape of the blade is variable and according to its manufacture.

Serpe of Paris

Makes it possible to clear the paths and to prune without difficulty the branches of small section.

To avoid for mowing grass.

about 40 cm for less than 200 gr.

Serpette knife

With a curved beveled blade on both sides, the serpette knife is ideal for grafting, incising or pruning shrubs.

The most practical and lightweight in its category.

Length and material of the handle

The length of the handle must adapt to the user and to the future use of the clamp.

The long sleeves allow a better developed and are recommended for work at height.

Shorter sleeves are used more for man-height tasks.

The material of the handle can be made of :

  • wood (beech, eucalyptus etc.) ;
  • wood and leather and hook ;
  • plastic held by brass rivets (serpette) ;
  • two-component plastic with a non-slip and ergonomic shape.

Shape and material of the blade

Shape of the blade

The shape of the blade is inherent in its type .

The large curved shapes (crescent type) are particularly suitable for mowing, the heavy blades for splitting wood or cutting branches of small section, the double cutters for mowing and branch cutting.

Concave in shape, the blade thus follows the shape of the plant and the cut is sharper (pruning). Before the appearance of the pruner, it was the preferred blade shape for pruning the vine because the vines healed quickly.

Quality of the blade

The quality of the blade is essential because it guarantees its longevity and its good sharpening. The carbon content of a steel determines its hardness, this allows it to obtain a satisfactory cutting edge without being sensitive to corrosion (addition of chromium of more than 10.5% to give it stainless).

The hardness of the blade is expressed in kg /mm2 (example: 160-180 kg /mm2), the higher the value, the harder the blade. Its thickness determines its flexibility (count about 3-4 mm for a stable blade). All blades must be treated anticorrosion (carbon + chrome) and hardened steel.

The machete is a large cutlass with a thick and long blade (more than 50 cm) and a short handle (one-handed use).

It is used on the fly and is used to cut plants such as for example to make your way through dense vegetation. In the garden, the machete is used to cut tree branches, reeds and brush clearing. Machetes come in different types :

  • the Latin machete, versatile, it is light and long (about 70 cm for 300 gr) ;
  • the tapanga machete is heavy (1 kg) and allows more shrub felling than mowing ;
  • the kukri machete is shorter and of medium weight which makes it versatile ;
  • the bolo machete, heavier but as long as the Latin machete.


As already mentioned, the handle is always very short. Only the material and the form differ. There are anti-slip plastic (or even bi-material) or riveted wood. The shape can be straight or curved, thus offering better ergonomics.


There are all shapes: long and thin, wide and angular. Some have a double cutting edge, sometimes sawtooth, or a hook. Its use determines the choice of the blade. Its carbon content determines its hardness. It is stainless and made of hardened steel.


The weight of the machete is relative to its type and to be combined with its use. For example, for brushcutting, it is better to choose a lightweight model. On the other hand, to cut down a tree, a heavier model is to be preferred.

The sharpening of a blade is carried out with a file or a sharpening stone. It is carried out from the inside to the outside and on both sides of the blade.

It is necessary to respect the original angle for better efficiency. It is also possible to use a grinding wheel to restore the cutting edge.

At the end of the sharpening, remove the slight burr that forms at the end of the bit (morfil) by applying a flat file stroke.

Guide written by:

Sébastien, Editor-in-Chief, 382 guides

At the end of my studies in commerce, I learned by opportunity the profession of carpenter. Noble but hard job, the winters and the rain prompted me to get off the roofs and push the doors of a hardware store where, without much surprise, I found myself a hardware store. I liked the job and over the years, I have accumulated experiences in several Large DIY stores. Between two shops, I continued my apprenticeship and worked in locksmithing, roofing, printing or in the industrial sector for surface treatment companies, manufacturing expansion vessels. The desire to transmit then led me to train as a teacher of French as a Foreign language, then I started writing travel articles, then DIY for monEchelle. fr . Today Editor-in-chief of the Technical Advice section of ManoMano, I have the pleasure of working with a community of real experts including an outstanding gardener, an emeritus welder, a passionate plumber and many others. Providing impartial advice is what we do best, and what we will continue to do for you.

Written by webseopl2022 on .


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