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Electric and gasoline powered trimmers give homeowners an economical way to slice small trenches along sidewalks and driveways or trim close to trees, flower beds, lampposts, etc. One of the most popular types of trimmers whip-cuts grass and weeds with a monofilament nylon line.

Unlike push-type trimmers with rubber wheels and wide reels, string trimmers have no wheels, guides, adjustments or blades. A strong monofilament nylon line, spinning at up to 12,000 rpm, is the cutting “blade.”

The line cuts both grass and weeds, but inexpensive models are best suited for smaller areas and lighter work like grass, while heavier weeds and larger areas require a heavy-duty, more expensive trimmer with more power.

Safety is an important point for string trimmers. The filament or line won’t cut shoes, clothing or its own electrical cord, although the line could raise welts or break the skin.

Protective goggles or glasses should be worn, because the spinning line can throw debris. Electric-powered string trimmers are lightweight and easy to operate. Cordless models provide even more mobility, but these are used primarily for light cutting jobs and operating time is limited. String trimmers allow users to cut around posts, rocks, shrubs, etc., without damaging the tool. The only wear is on the nylon line, which may need to be replaced as it frays. Some units have automatic feed systems to play out more cutting line.

The smaller electric units weigh about 3 lbs. with a 1/8- to 1/10-hp power source. The cutting diameter is approximately 7″ to 10″.

Heavier-duty models weigh 4 to 8 lbs. with up to a 3/4-hp motor. Cutting lines are about .06″ in diameter and can cut up to a 16″-wide swath. A second adjustable assist handle is usually available to provide two-handed operation and more control. With the wider cutting radius and more powerful motors, these models can handle larger jobs more easily.

Gas-powered string trimmers were originally made for commercial users and owners with large acreage. These weigh about 14 to 25 lbs. and are powered by a two-cycle engine.

Lighter, scaled-down models can be used by homeowners; these models weigh about 10 to 14 lbs. and provide the operating freedom of a cordless trimmer.

The increased capacity of gas-powered units allows the user to dig a trench between the grass and the walk with the string. In addition, metal bush-cutting blades are available as accessories for heavier cutting. Optional accessories also include blade attachments for other lawn and garden uses.

By tilting the head of the trimmer at about a 30 degree angle, the tip of the line provides a more efficient tool.

When selling these units, be sure to pay attention to the manufacturer’s safety instructions and proper operating procedures, especially for metal blade accessories.

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.