When it comes to keeping your lawn in prime condition, you know that you’ll need a trimmer to handle the edges. But while picking one out for your home or business, you likely noticed that there are both straight shaft and curved shaft models available. Both look like they can do the job, but which is best suited to your needs?
It’s hard to know without taking each trimmer for a test run. But there are some key features of both straight and curved shaft trimmers that can be compared all the same. This guide will make those important comparisons while also teaching you the role the shaft plays in a trimmer’s operation.
After reading this guide, you won’t need to debate between straight shaft vs. curved shaft trimmers. You’ll understand which is more appropriate to your needs at a practical level. You’ll also understand which style is more affordable, which is key for folks working on a budget.
The Role of the Shaft
Before comparing straight and curved shafts trimmers, let’s take a moment to understand the shaft’s role in the trimmer overall. To start, the shaft acts as the main body for this kind of appliance, regardless of whether it is gas, electric, or battery-powered. As such, you’ll find the handle and throttle mounted at one end and the spinning head at the other.
The shaft doesn’t just support these elements externally, though. A trimmer’s shaft is also hollow, thus allowing all of the unit’s electric work to run through its interior. These wires and cords take on different forms between straight and curved shaft trimmers.
On a straight shaft trimmer, these wires run directly from the handle to the head. As such, they are less susceptible to bending.
On a curved shaft trimmer, though, these wires are automatically curved as they run down the length of the unit. This curve causes those wire bundles to flex just a bit when the unit is in use. Over time, this can decrease their flexibility and make them more prone to breakage.
In a more practical sense, a trimmer’s shaft shape also impacts the unit’s overall balance. This is because a trimmer’s extended length can cause a user to become fatigued over the course of its use.
Straight shaft trimmers are known to be a bit harder to handle without a harness or extra grip points. Curved shaft trimmers, on the other hand, are better balanced. Often, they can be held for longer periods with causing excessive user fatigue.
Be sure to keep these primary functions in mind while deciding whether a straight or curved shaft trimmer is most appropriate for you.
Key Features Compared
When it comes to comparing straight and curved shaft trimmers, there are a number of key specifications and features to compare. Each tells you a bit about those units’ general usability, which is crucial when working with this kind of outdoor maintenance equipment.
Each of the following comparison points also provides you with information about each trimmer type’s value as an investment. You’ll want your chosen trimmer to meet your needs for a decade or more, so it is worth your time to determine which shaft type is best in advance.
For more information on key specifications and features to look for in your next lawn trimmer, check out this video guide.
Weight and Balance
First and foremost, you can compare straight and curved shaft trimmers based on their weight. In most cases, curved shaft trimmers are slightly lighter. This is true comparatively among gas-, electric-, and battery-powered units. Straight shaft units, meanwhile, tend to weigh a little extra due to their extended length.
This then leads into another aspect worth comparing – balance. Balance is essential for trimmers due to the manner in which they are used. To be specific, their long length can cause excessive fatigue if the unit is not an ideal balance for its user.
Most professional and amateur trimmer users agree that curved shaft models have the best balance. This is due to their decreased weight, as well as their shorter length caused by the unit’s hook curve.
Curved shaft models also tend to have handles closer to the fulcrum or balance midpoint, making it easier to support the unit’s load during an extended trimming session.
In lieu of ideal balance, your chosen trimmer should at least provide some auxiliary support for its weight and balance. For many straight shaft models, this comes in the form of an over-the-shoulder strap harness. It may also come in the form of an adjustable forward handle.
In all cases, you should ideally check a unit’s balance before purchasing it. This can help you understand if your height is a good match for that trimmer’s length. If they are not, you’ll find your new trimmer to be unbalanced and likely unwieldy each time you start it up.
Maneuverability is another key specification that you won’t likely see listed on a trimmer’s box. But all the same, it has a major impact on how that trimmer performs in its intended locations.
In practice, maneuverability acts as an extension of a trimmer’s weight and balance (explained above). That is to say, if a trimmer is well-balanced and not too heavy, it is likely to be easier to maneuver its head around various obstacles.
Maneuverability can come in different forms, though. In one sense, a maneuverable trimmer should be able to work around natural curves such as those at the edge of a flower garden. This kind of maneuverability is best provided by curved shaft trimmers.
Meanwhile, a maneuverable unit should also be able to reach extended distances without requiring over-exertion. This may come in handy when trying to trim under a patio or within a brush line. In almost all cases, a straight shaft trimmer will provide you the extra length you need to achieve this kind of maneuverability.
Your chosen trimmer may not exemplify both kinds of maneuverability, and that’s okay. You’ll just need to appraise which kind of maneuverability you’ll need more and choose a unit accordingly (more information on choosing the right trimmer can be found below).
Given the task at hand, you’ll naturally want a trimmer with enough core power to slice through any weeds or grass that stands in your way. But to do that, you’ll need an appreciable amount of power at your trimmer’s core.
To be specific, you’ll want to choose a unit with a strong motor that can maintain a unit’s rotational speeds reliably. This can be measured through several different metrics, though HP or “horsepower” is the most common. In almost all cases, more HP indicates that trimmer, whether straight or curved, has more capacity to operate than those with less HP.
While much of this capacity to operate originates in the motor, it isn’t the end of the story when it comes to trimmer power. In fact, a gearbox can also cause a unit’s torque to increase substantially compared to units without a gearbox.
Most popular brands include a gearbox on their straight shaft trimmers today. As a result, their basic and practical power is usually greater. This is why straight trimmers are the norm in industrial and commercial applications.
Meanwhile, curved shaft trimmers usually lack a gearbox and provide less torque, in turn. This decrease in power is seen as a tradeoff for the enhanced balance of these trimmers. Most residential users don’t need a ton of torque anyway, so they tend to gravitate toward curved shaft units for their other worthwhile specifications.
Cutting Head Options
Most trimmer users are familiar with their unit’s primary cutting head. Most commercial and personal trimmers use a string trim head by default. But there are more options available to trimmers with proper compatibilities.
For example, some trimmers can be equipped with special metal blades to facilitate underbrush trimming. These blades are heavy relative to a trimmer’s capacity to secure the blade at high speeds. As such, not all units can handle them or even provide a proper mounting location for them on their head.
It is more common for a straight shaft trimmer to provide this kind of compatibility. This is especially true of units designed for industrial use, where heavy-duty blades are routinely implemented. As such, an individual who wishes to have options when it comes to trimming and weed whacking may find a straight shaft model suitable.
However, for folks who only intend to trim lawn grass, a string-based trim head should suffice. These can be used on both straight and curved head trimmers, regardless of their length. This “string” is actually made from plastic, which can spin at higher speeds without the need for as much torque.
Also, curved trimmers tend to provide more options within the string-based head family. That is to say, many curved shaft trimmers provide 2 or more options when it comes to compatible trimmer string diameters. This can make it easier to adjust a curved shaft trimmer’s cutting strength without needing to switch out a heavy blade set.
Price and Longevity
Finally, while comparing trimmers, be sure to appraise the price and overall value of your prospective models. This analysis should take into account the cost and benefit of purchasing a model that can last through many seasons of use. This may even include taking into account a trimmer’s core durability.
When it comes to price, curved shaft trimmers tend to be cheaper. On average, curved trimmers tend to start at around $30 cheaper than their straight shaft counterparts. This can make them ideal for residential users and commercial buyers on a budget.
Meanwhile, straight shaft trimmers tend to cost a bit more on average. However, their construction often makes them able to resist wear and tear more efficiently. This allows them to remain productive for longer in turn, making their longevity a real feature for them.
Also, don’t forget to factor in long-term upkeep costs for your new trimmer. For example, units that use string line will require replacement line regularly given that those lines degrade with regular use. This price can be greater yet if your chosen model requires a name-brand line or an unusual gauge that is hard to find in stores.
Choosing the best string trimmer Option for You
When it comes time to choose between a straight and a curved shaft trimmer, there are a few factors you should take into account. These will allow you to obtain a workable model on the first try without even needing a test run.
First and foremost, consider your budget. There are many competing brands in today’s trimmer market. As such, you are sure to find a worthwhile model with your chosen shaft type, regardless of your pre-determined price range.
Next, consider your past experiences. If you know you have been very fatigued by trimming in the past, consider getting a curved trimmer or a straight trimmer with a support strap.
Along these same lines, you should consider your height. Shorter users tend to find a curved shaft unit easier to use. Meanwhile, tall users are more able to use a straight shaft unit successfully without need to bend or hunch over.
Finally, consider what kinds of grass or weeds you’ll need to trim going forward. If you intend to trim thicker weeds or very tall grass, a trimmer with a larger motor or gearbox may be warranted. Meanwhile, most residential lawns can be maintained with a small to medium motor at most.
The debate between straight shaft vs. curved shaft trimmers remains as present as ever. But you now have the information necessary to determine which type of trimmer is right for you. More importantly, you’ll be able to pick out a high-quality model in no time flat using the key specifications and features explained in this guide.
However, if you’re still looking for recommendations regarding specific models, we have a few to offer. For example, the Remington RM25C remains a popular option for folks looking to pick up a well-equipped curved shaft trimmer.
Meanwhile, folks looking for a great straight shaft trimmer can turn to the Husqvarna 128LD. While it is a pricy pick, this model’s durability and performance in high capacity situations is simply unmatched.
As always, we want to hear from you, our loyal readers. If you have questions for me or our knowledgeable team, don’t forget to leave them in the comments below. Meanwhile, if you have insights into using a curved or a straight shaft trimmer, share them in the comments section to help out your fellow readers.