I’m a fan of my Craftsman Tools, most of which are old as Keith Richards. However, I’ve become a fan again lately since I started testing the new line of Craftsman 60V Max cordless power tools. I loved the light weight, high-power and long run-time of this Craftsman String Trimmer and Blower I analyzed earlier this year.
As the growing season — along with the bushes hanging over the walkway to my house — have reached their heights, I am eager to put the 60V Max Hedge Trimmer through its paces.
I had high hopes for the Craftsman Hedge Trimmer as I started testing. Can it live up to the high bar set by the other Craftsman 60V Max cordless power tools?
- Approx. Unit Weight: 9 lbs with battery
- Blade Length: 24″
- Blade Action: Dual (meaning both sides of the blade cut)
- Blade Materials: Laser cut steel
- Cutting Capacity: .75″
- Battery Type: V60 MAX 2.5 Ah lithium-ion battery
- Optimum Charging Temp.: 65 – 75° F
- Battery Charger: V60 MAX fast-charge charger included
- Approx. Charging Time: 75 minutes
- Approx. Run Time: 75 minutes
- Additional Features: Power Saw that allows you to cut branches up to 1-1/2-in thick; blade sheath; part of the VERSATRACK™ Wall Organization System
Colorful images on the box allow me to know that my hedge trimmer arrived. As always, I tore open the box, took a few photos, and put everything out on the floor to be sure the box contained all of the components.
It’s a simple operation. Plug the device into the wall socket. Then slide the battery into place. Considering that the 65-75° F charging warning in the educational manual and the 90° F temperatures out (and by default, in my garage), I opted to charge the battery in the nearest electric outlet near my stovetop.
The light will flash green while charging. To fully charge the battery takes about 75 minutes (less for the initial charge since the battery comes partially charged already). When the battery indicates a solid green light, it’s fully charged and ready to go!
Once I got the battery charging, I flipped through the manual to see if it told me anything new. The instruction manual reads like ones found with all power tools, with loads of warnings (like not to use under wet conditions).
Then I turned to the assembly instructions. While waiting for the battery to complete charging, I cut the plastic tie off from around the trigger.
When the battery finished charging, I slid it into the bottom of the hedge trimmer casing until it made a”click” That’s it. It’s all set!
As with all sharp tools, use some great common sense when”dressing” for the job. While the instructions didn’t provide copious warnings about using the tool, it is always good to wear safety goggles and gloves. Even a small branch can do serious harm to an eyeball. So far as gloves, I like the increased grip I get from great excellent garden gloves (which also put a little distance between me and anything that bites).
I would also suggest close-toed shoes such as the LaCrosse Alpha Muddy Mule I tested a few months back. Since I’m forever getting poked and scratched from branches lying on the ground, I like to secure my toes.
Begin Your Brushless Motor!
As far as operating the tool, you’ll first have to remove the sheath. It’s a tight-fitting plastic piece that slides off the blade with a small pull.
The trigger has two parts: a security lock which has to be depressed to start the unit, and the trigger itself which powers the unit. Luckily, the lock is set on the trigger as a tiny switch.
To begin the unit, wrap your hand around the trimmer so that you naturally fold down the security lock as you squeeze the trigger. To stop the unit, take your hands off the trigger. It’s that simple. After I used the hedge trimmer for a couple of minutes, I forgot that the lock was even there.
In the tip of the hedge trimmer is a little saw with teeth (Craftsman calls it the Power Saw). That feature allows you to cut branches up to 1 1/2 inch in diameter.
The spacing on the blade teeth is quite wide, which it has to be to cut branches up to 3/4-inch thick. That gap makes it easy for a finger to match, also, which is just another reason to exercise caution and wear thick, high quality gloves.
The unit has a bale handle to make it easy to hold from several angles and to increase maneuverability. Needless to say, in addition, it includes a blade protector to keep your hands from slipping to the moving blade teeth.
Running the Craftsman 60V Hedge Trimmer throughout the Paces
I have different kinds of nandina implanted in my yard. If you’re not familiar with nandina, the plants are thin-stemmed, leafy, and beautiful.
Firing up the Craftsman Hedge Trimmer, I shaped the plants Very Quickly. In comparison to other hedgers I’ve used, the Craftsman seemed somewhat slow RPM-wise, but it had no difficulty making clean, surgical cuts my flowering plants. Since several of these plants grow along the walkway to my house, I had a straight, precise cut, and I wasn’t disappointed.
It was then time to move on to something with a little more substance to it.
My front walkway has seven different kinds of bushes along the sides, and most of them acomprise three or four of the exact same bush. The people who owned my home before me planted bushes quite close together to make a complete look in a short time. While this strategy has its advantages, it also produces plants that tend to grow on top of one another over time.
Next year, on the one small patch that hadn’t been overplanted by the previous owner, a volunteer popped up: a cute little beautyberry. But just like the kittens that the children bring home that turn into cats, the cute little beautyberry went from sprout to walkway barrier overnight.
Very quickly, I cut the bush in half, leaves and branches falling to all sides. Then I came at it from the sides and reduced it to a three-foot tangle of limbs.
And that’s when I realized that the Craftsman didn’t have as much power as I needed. While the large 3/4 inch cutting blade could fit the branches in its teeth, it didn’t just float through them. Mindful that the Craftsman 60V Hedge Trimmer claims to cut branches of this size, I stuck with it till it chewed through the bush, leaving just the thicker back behind about six inches in the ground.
The bunch of trunk growth looked to be somewhere between an inch to an inch and a half. This gave me the opportunity to use the Power Saw at the end of the blade. Per the instructions, with the machine off, I put the Power Saw blade and the protruding red Power Saw shoe against the trunk. I then squeezed the trigger.
The Power Saw cuts, but it takes a long time. After using it to cut all but one of the trunks as low to the ground as I could, I used my ARS SA-G18HL folding pruning saw with impulse-hardened steel blade on the one which remained. It fell clean to the floor with half a dozen strokes.The Power Saw feature might have a place for some users, but it will not turn into my new”go-to” tool for cutting through 1 1/2″ limbs or branches.
On other bushes with thinner wood, the Craftsman performed well and created nice cuts on my yews, privets, and leafy growth. But when it encountered the thicker parts of wood, like that found on beautyberries, butterfly bushes, and holly, it took longer to cut than I anticipated and longer than that of other cordless units I have tested.
I used the Craftsman 60V Hedge Trimmer to cut my hollies vertically, to shave off a few of the spiky parts that catch you when you walk by. After a short time, I found myself canted at an awkward angle and needed to take a rest. It would have been nice if the trimmer needed a pivot on the handle to change the blade angle ninety degrees.
Trimming tree branches
Finally, I tested the Craftsman Hedge Trimmer against small tree branches to determine how it would do. No, a hedge trimmer isn’t the best tool for this job, but I understand that most people who use a hedge trimmer will likely push the limits, choosing to use the tool that is already in their hands rather than finding the best one for your job. But rather than testing the tool on hardwoods, I cut softwoods just, like pine, cedar, and Eastern redbud. I didn’t try to cut anything bigger than 1/2 inch in diameter.
The Craftsman 60V Hedge Trimmer made clean cuts on all tree branches that fell into its teeth. It’s a nice plus to use only one tool to eliminate uncontrollable growth which may hang over a driveway or garden bed rather than needing to have multiple tools on hand.
Will the Craftsman Hedge Trimmer Work for You?
Here are some things I enjoyed about the tool:
- Easy setup. I like things that are”plug n play” This hedge trimmer can go from the box into the yard as quickly as you can charge the battery. No need to find screwdrivers or pliers to put it together. Charge it, pop in the battery, remove the sheath and get to work.
- Clean cuts. The Craftsman excelled in cutting thin materials such as nandina and the tender ends of holly, butterfly bushes, and beautyberry. As it sliced through this sort of vegetation, the blade never labored or hesitated as it generated precise cuts from the foliage.
- Long battery run-time. The run-time of the unit is about 60-80 minutes, which means that you won’t need to make regular stops to control the battery. That’s more than sufficient run-time for most residential applications.
- At less than 10 lbs., it’s easy to balance in your hands rather than felt heavy or awkward. The dual cutting teeth make it easy to trim hedges from side-to-side or top-to-bottom by making small adjustments to your hold.
- Green. No gasoline, pre-mix ratios, fumes, or intolerably loud sound. It is quieter than any gas-powered alternative, and it doesn’t use fossil fuels.
- Battery can be used with all other 60V Craftsman tools. Most people using power tools need batteries and accessories that are compatible. Craftsman has a complete line of tools (blower, hedge trimmer, string trimmer, lawn mower, and even a chainsaw) that use the exact same battery! That means no more trying to find the right one for your tools. They all work!
- As I’ll cover in another review, all of Craftsman’s 60V tools operate with the VersaTrack system, a wall-mounted storage system that keeps your tools handy, organized, and prepared when the urge to get some yard work done strikes!
Here are a couple of things that didn’t thrill me about the Craftsman 60V Hedge Trimmer:
- I have used several trimmers over the years, and all done well. But of all the trimmers I’ve used, I would rate the power of this Craftsman Hedge Trimmer 60V Max close or at the bottom. In the first squeeze of the trigger, the cutting motion felt somewhat anemic. While the tool works good on lean, tender development, it lacks the power to make rapid cuts in tougher or woodier materials.
- Lacks a pivoting blade. When trimming holly bushes, it did not take long for me to wish I could pivot the blade so I could make easy up-and-down cuts without needing to stand in an awkward angle.
The Craftsman trimmer comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee. If you buy it and do not like it, then return it to get your money back. Additionally, Craftsman carries a 4-year limited lifetime guarantee against defects in materials and workmanship
This cordless hedge trimmer is very good for light- to middle-duty residential use due to its long battery life (60 to 80 minutes on a single charge), light weight (under 10 lbs.) , decent maneuverability, and reasonable price. It makes clean cuts on thinner stems, perfect for users with small gardens and hedges who need to keep a manicured look.
But if you’re looking for a hedge trimmer that can muscle through thicker vegetation, you might want to pass on this one.