Okay, so you’ve mowed the lawn – but something isn’t quite right.
The edges around your trees, flower beds, shrubs, vegetable boxes, patio, and driveway just aren’t as sharp as they could be.
You need a string trimmer to finish the job properly.
But which type should you choose? In a matchup between a straight vs curved trimmer – which is better?
Let’s take a look.
- Straight Shaft Vs Curved Shaft Trimmer: The Short Answer
- Curved Trimmer Reviews
- Curved Trimmer Advantages and Disadvantages
- Straight Trimmer Reviews
- Straight Trimmer Advantages and Disadvantages
- What to Consider Before Buying a Straight or a Curved Shaft Trimmer
- What is better, a straight or a curved shaft trimmer?
- What’s the difference between a straight and a curved shaft trimmer?
- Why are curved shaft trimmers cheaper?
- Are straight shaft trimmers more powerful?
- Are string trimmers good for the environment?
- Do I need to wear safety gear with straight or curved trimmers?
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Straight Shaft Vs Curved Shaft Trimmer: The Short Answer
Before we fully get into the nuts and bolts of the debate, throw in some reviews and a buyer’s guide, here’s the explanation if you’re looking for an at-a-glance answer.
The main advantages of a curved shaft trimmer vs straight shaft is that they are much cheaper and more lightweight.
However, a straight shaft is more powerful and durable, with a better overall reach.
Of course, it’s a little more complex than that – but for all you readers in a rush – that’s the difference in a nutshell.
For anyone wishing to learn more, let’s take a look at some sample reviews of each for a better understanding of curved vs straight trimmers.
Curved Trimmer Reviews
BLACK+DECKER GH3000 Trimmer
First up in the battle between straight shaft vs curved shaft string trimmers is this budget model from residential power tool stalwarts Black & Decker. You can always trust them to come up with affordable versions of more commercial products, and this is a no-frills, curved shaft option that’s perfectly designed for the weekend gardener.
Backed with a 7.5 Amp electric motor, with a wheeled guide edge for accurate use, you can also switch between trimming and edging with a quick-latch release for ultimate versatility in tidying your sidewalks and driveway.
- Great price.
- Easy to use.
- Quiet operation.
- Multi-function design.
- Auto feed might give you problems.
- Not that powerful.
Ryobi One+Electric String Trimmer and Edger
Japanese company Ryobi also offers some outstanding budget-friendly gizmos and this 18-volt battery-powered string trimmer is part of their popular and extensive ONE+ range of compatible tools.
With a 10-inch cutting width, you can get the job done in no time, while the ergonomic handle and front grip ensure a super-comfortable operation. The battery doesn’t hang around when it comes to charging and is ready inside one hour, and like the Black & Decker, this tool is also convertible with a simple shaft rotation to access the useful edging function.
Set up is super easy and you’ll be ready to go right outside the box.
- Great price.
- Versatile use.
- Large compatible tool system.
- Very highly rated.
- Very limited battery life.
- Again, not as powerful as other models.
Toro Curved Shaft Gas String Trimmer
Here we have the first of our gas-powered string trimmers, this particular model representing the curved shaft version. With a serious jump in price from the previous two models, it offers a commercial-grade engine for residential use, a definite step up in power and the ability to continue working until the job is done.
The curved shaft provides easy handling and less weight, and the machine can accept a selection of attachments for versatility around your garden. The bump-feed spool is easy to load, while the padded, ergonomic handle offers comfort and control for extended periods of use, with anti-vibration technology to keep those shudders down.
- Good price for what you get.
- Large cutting width.
- Highly rated.
- A little on the heavy side.
Husqvarna 128CD Gas String Trimmer
This Swedish company is no stranger to manufacturing quality outdoor power tools and equipment, just check out Husqvarna’s awesome chainsaws if you need further proof.
This is one of their commercial-grade string trimmers, with a 17-inch cutting path, backed by a 28cc, two-cycle gas engine. With simple line reloading and quick release, Tap ‘N Go trimmer head, you can keep working comfortably with the easy-to-use features and ergonomic handle and grip. Smart Start technology gets you going first time, while the translucent fuel tank allows you to keep tabs on fuel levels as you work. Three further “click-on” attachments are also available for ultimate power tool versatility around your property.
- Name to trust.
- Solid, durable construction throughout.
- High visibility cutting shield.
- Braided trimmer line.
- Requires a mix of oil and fuel.
- A little heavy for some.
Curved Trimmer Advantages and Disadvantages
On the surface, it might seem like a curved shaft trimmer just isn’t as good as a straight version – but it does have a couple of noticeable advantages.
You’ll notice right off the bat that curved trimmers are cheaper. Without going into too much detail, this is to do with the inner workings of the machine – and the manufacturing cost of the gearbox. (See the FAQ section below for a more in-depth explanation).
For the most part, this makes them a very good option for homeowners, rather than commercial landscapers.
The units are more lightweight and maneuverable than straight trimmers, with the curved head being ideal for clipping grass around flower beds, trees, and shrubs.
A curved head provides more visibility and accuracy with your cut, and is preferable for finer jobs as opposed to simply mowing down everything in your path.
The downsides of a curved shaft trimmer are that they are not as durable as a straight shaft, and therefore will likely not last as long.
You’ll find numerous reports that they’re not suitable for taller users – as the nature of the curved shaft forces people over a certain height to bend over regularly – which can cause discomfort.
However, this goes down as an advantage if you’re on the smaller side.
Additionally, for the most part, you won’t be able to add interchangeable heads with a curved-shaft – unless otherwise specified in a particular model.
Straight Trimmer Reviews
Greenworks Corded String Trimmer
With a 10 Amp motor and generous 18-inch cutting width, this corded straight shaft string trimmer from Greenworks is a surprisingly powerful tool for residential use.
The lightweight design offers extended working times so you can get the job done, while the simple electric start and cord lock makes it that much easier to power up and stay juiced. With a cushion and over-mold grip and handle for operator comfort, and the auxiliary handle for more control when trimming, maintaining your yard and garden will feel like a breeze.
And the quick-connector coupling lets you interchange the trimmer head for a decent number of practical tools ensuring this is one of the most versatile trimmers on the market.
- Excellent price.
- Very highly rated.
- Bump feed.
- Extensive attachment choice.
- Quiet operation.
- The string feed system can be a bit sluggish.
- It’s on the heavy side.
Craftsman V60 String Trimmer & Edger
Here we have an example of a straight shaft cordless trimmer with this battery-powered option from Craftsman.
Offering a powerful 60 Volt, rechargeable battery that provides an extended run time, the brushless motor has a two-speed switch for additional torque. The pole is fully adjustable to suit the individual user’s height, and the bump spool with a 15-inch cutting path allows added efficiency and easy line replacement.
It’s surprisingly lightweight for a heavy-duty trimmer, and the fast-charging battery is compatible with the full range of 60V Craftsman tools – which comes highly recommended – because I own the lawnmower.
- Easy to assemble.
- Quality construction throughout.
- Battery level indicator.
- Quickwind spool.
- Highly rated.
- The protection guard could be larger.
- Not attachment compatible.
Echo Gas Straight Shaft Trimmer
This two-stroke gas straight shaft trimmer from Echo has a 21.2cc engine for a professional trimming experience around your property. A rubber, over-molded grip provides unbeatable comfort and control, while the 17-inch cutting swath with speed-feed trimmer head will make short work of those lawn and patio edges.
The durable debris shield has a built-in cut-off knife, and the engine features a system to reduce the starting effort by up to 30%. A generous 59-inch shaft allows you to get at all those hard to reach areas, as the low-vibration design helps reduce user fatigue over extended working hours.
- Professional grade.
- Lightweight design.
- Bump feed.
- No assembly required.
- Very highly rated.
- Again, the guard is on the small side.
- It’s still tricky to start up.
- Required mix of fuel and oil.
Honda Straight Shaft Gas Trimmer
When it comes to gas-powered tools, Honda is at the top of the food chain. The Japanese company manufactures some of the best engines in the world, and this straight shaft trimmer is backed by a very powerful 35 cc, four-stroke version that has the huge advantage of just using regular gas – so there’s no messy mixing required.
Offering unbeatable balance with reduced vibration, it’s comfortable and easy to use for longer periods, with an ergonomic handle design and automatic line advancement system that takes the effort out of trimming. Probably one of the best string trimmers available on the market today.
- Excellent build quality.
- Name to trust.
- Highly rated.
- 360° inclinable engine.
- Very expensive.
Straight Trimmer Advantages and Disadvantages
Straight trimmers are a more popular choice for landscaping professionals. You will rarely (if ever) see a ground maintenance worker using a curved trimmer along a roadside.
They have several advantages.
A straight trimmer is more powerful than a curved version. This is due to the gearbox reduction that allows more torque to the cutting head while using less throttle.
And having a design that uses less throttle significantly improves the life of the machine’s motor.
As such, they are a lot more suitable for heavy-duty work, including the taking down of more stubborn weeds and grasses. Check out this article on the best commercial weed killers if you need even more backup for weed removal.
Straight trimmers are more durable. They will last much longer than their curved-counterparts – providing you take good care of them. And because of their design and weight, they offer less vibration – which means reduced user fatigue and the ability to keep working for longer.
(Obviously, this will vary from trimmer to trimmer depending on the power).
Aside from this, straight trimmers are highly versatile. Different cutting heads can be swapped out to give you a range of trimming options, including brush blades for dense, tough foliage, trees, and shrubs.
Finally, the straight shaft isn’t just an aesthetic thing – it’s also much more adept at getting into hard-to-reach places, such as under decking or fence lines.
While this all might seem too good to be true, straight shaft trimmers do come with some downsides.
They are heavier and more cumbersome than curved trimmers, and while they might offer less vibration fatigue, their weight and unruly control can add their own problems.
But perhaps the most obvious disadvantage when it comes to comparing a straight shaft vs curved shaft string trimmer, is that the straight shaft is nearly always more expensive.
Again, this will depend on the make and model of the individual trimmer, and most notably its power source.
What to Consider Before Buying a Straight or a Curved Shaft Trimmer
Below you’ll find a brief but informative guide to other considerations you should be thinking about before purchasing a straight or a curved shaft trimmer.
Both straight shaft and curved shaft string trimmers are available in a choice of power sources – corded electric, battery, and gas.
Choose the right version for your needs and budget. Corded electric tools are cheap – but they have serious range limitations.
Battery-powered tools offer more freedom, but they can easily run out of juice in the middle of a job.
Gas will be the most powerful, but maintenance and fuel costs can soon add up – not to mention noise and emission pollution.
In order to help you choose either a curved or straight shaft trimmer, as well as the power source that backs it, it’s very helpful that you ascertain the size and type of the job you’re going to be undertaking.
If you have a smaller yard and you need to tidy up around the ornamentals, then perhaps an electric, curved-shaft is all you need.
If you have farm-sized acreage then a gas-powered straight shaft is the only thing that’s going to cut it.
Use a bit of common sense before purchasing and you’ll always get the right tool.
Even with lightweight string trimmers or shoulder harnesses, fatigue can set in quickly, especially when undertaking larger cutting jobs.
More powerful string trimmers can give off a lot of vibration (even with dampening technology) and care should be taken with extended use.
With that in mind, you should choose a machine that you’re capable of handling.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that many users feel that trimmers with a curved shaft are harder to use if you’re over a certain height. It’s often difficult to bend down and get accurate cuts closer to the ground.
Likewise, shorter users might actually struggle to control the longer, straight shaft machines.
Just another thing to bear in mind when choosing either a curved or straight trimmer.
As well as maneuverability, weight seriously comes into play with a string trimmer. This is where a curved shaft wins out hands down – and why they’re recommended for casual residential use for most homeowners.
Also, check the grip and handle design of the machine – you want something that is as comfortable as possible while offering maximum control.
Curved shaft trimmers win in the weight class, but they also come tops in the price wars, too. A curved trimmer is usually cheaper than a straight version.
Having said that, it often depends on the power source, and you can get exorbitantly expensive or cheap versions of each. There’s a string trimmer to suit every budget.
Always purchase the best you can afford – that is suited to the particular job you need it to do.
What is better, a straight or a curved shaft trimmer?
It really depends on what you need it for. Both have their advantages and disadvantages as highlighted above.
In short, I would suggest a curved trimmer for smaller yards and residential plots – particularly for use around flower beds, trees, and shrubs, as well as along patios and driveways.
A straight trimmer is better suited for commercial use and excels when covering larger areas, under decking, or other hard to reach locations.
Check out this article if you’re looking for more options when it comes to the best commercial-grade string trimmers on the market.
What’s the difference between a straight and a curved shaft trimmer?
Aside from the aesthetic look (which might be an important factor to some users), the main difference between a curved and straight shaft trimmer is the power.
Straight shaft trimmers are more powerful, but they’re also heavier and can be harder to control.
Curved shaft trimmers are, by and large, lighter and cheaper – depending on the power source.
It’s up to you to decide which version is going to be more beneficial for your property and projects.
Why are curved shaft trimmers cheaper?
It basically comes down to the parts used to make each trimmer.
The gears that make up the drive shaft of a curved trimmer are a lot less complex than that of a straight version.
As such, the price tag increases when it comes to manufacturing more expensive parts. It’s all to do with the gearbox.
The video below explains this perfectly if you’re looking for more information.
Are straight shaft trimmers more powerful?
It depends on the power source but put it this way. If you have a gas-powered curved trimmer and a gas-powered straight trimmer – the straight trimmer would be more powerful.
Again, this is to do with the gearbox and components that have been designed to provide more torque to less throttle.
Are string trimmers good for the environment?
While being extremely efficient and much less hard work than using manual shears, string trimmers aren’t the best for the environment.
This is because they deposit tiny microplastics around your garden when the string breaks. This can easily be washed into watercourses after rainfall.
And while this might not seem like much, if you put that together with around 90 million other string trimmer users – you have a lot of plastic waste.
Using a high-visibility line can help you clean up after yourself, or you could use one of these excellent manual grass shears if you’re really trying to be eco-friendly.
Do I need to wear safety gear with straight or curved trimmers?
Yes, to both. String and curved trimmers can and will kick up all kinds of debris regardless of what you’re working on and which version you use, so safety equipment is highly recommended no matter which type of trimmer you’re rocking.
At the very least, eye protection and long sleeves/pants should be worn, and don’t wear open-toed sandals or shoes as your feet are right in the firing line.
For gas-powered machines, ear protection is also advised, but I would also strongly suggest using a suitable pair of these landscaping gloves to protect your hands.
If you really want to have the edge over your neighbors, a string trimmer is your go-to tool of choice.
And in the battle of the straight vs curved trimmers, it’s really up to you which one wins out for your needs.
However, in the interests of keeping things as simple as possible, I’d suggest purchasing a curved shaft for smaller yards and gardens, and a straight shaft if you have a larger area to cover.
Let me know which you would prefer and why.