The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Stihl Polycut attachment field report

Stihl Polycut up close field report 2011

I've been using this Polycut attachment on the new Stihl FS-90R weed eater to cut through some tough weeds that seemed too thick for the original string.

I like it a lot.

The sound is less high pitched and it feels like a substantial increase in cutting power. Expect to pay around 22 dollars. Not sure what the replacement fingers cost, but I think it was comparable to the price of string.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I have used the polycut before and it works well away from rocks and any pavement. It did last longer than string also.
Comment by vester Thu Jun 16 18:30:57 2011
I have high hopes the polycut will be less disposable than the string is. That was one of my big hangups about weedeaters --- I hate running through all that plastic string!
Comment by anna Thu Jun 16 19:29:24 2011
I also find the blades more visible than string, which helps you avoid hitting the obstacles that cause the string to wear down quickly. I like that the extra momentum gives the blades the cutting power needed to get through woody weeds, too.
Comment by Darren (Green Change) Thu Jun 16 19:51:53 2011

I have been thinking of getting a finger type head for doing trim work around rocky outcrops and pavement. But for general cutting, I don't think I can ever go back to string after what happened yesterday...

Just the most satisfying brush cutting experience ever. Like if the head had a lightsaber attached to it.

Comment by Eric in Japan Fri Jun 17 11:49:33 2011

Darren --- Great point about the visibility. Mark agrees with you.

Eric --- I went over and checked out your brush blade. We considered getting one like that, but instead opted to get one that looks more like a throwing star. Once Mark gets tired of the polycut attachment (or needs to cut saplings, which is what our metal blade is really for), we'll give it a shot. We decided against the blade that looks like a circular saw because the guy in the store said it was really for saplings more than an inch in diameter and that the blade doesn't do as well for smaller trees and heavy weeds. But your experience seems to be to the contrary!

Comment by anna Fri Jun 17 19:11:26 2011

We used to have a (electric) trimmer with one of them plastic strings. One of the things that always struck me is why they used a thin plastic stiong instead of e.g. a steel wire. Since steel is much heavier than plastic, you'd probable need two steel wires on opposing side of the shaft so they balance each other out.

My guess is that steel wires would do a lot more damage if they accidentily encountered somewthing more solid like e.g. human flesh!

I've been using table- and bandsaws for years, and have a healthy respect for the power of a saw-blade. Attaching a circular-saw-type blade to a weedcutter could result in very dangerous situations; a saw can give quite a kick when it catches on something.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sat Jun 18 18:17:57 2011

The safety issue is an excellent point, and is probably why the plastic strings are so widespread. On the other hand, if you're willing to think of your weed eater the way you think of a chainsaw, then it seems like these metal attachments are very helpful.

I'll be interested to hear whether the saw-like blades kick like a saw. Maybe Eric from Japan can chime in since he loved his so much?

Comment by anna Sun Jun 19 13:28:02 2011
Have you ever tried using a properly sharpened European scythe with a good snath? [Available online from Scythe Works(Canada) or Scythe Supply (US)] A supremely efficient, quiet, clean tool. You can cut around obstacles with surgical precision, and it's at least as fast as a weed eater for the experienced user, and easier to maintain. My favorite experience is mowing 7' tall cereal rye. Plus, you get to impress your neighbours.
Comment by Jackie Sun Jun 19 21:07:45 2011

I've had a bad experience with scythes. I was given one that was too big for me, and unsurprisingly it was very difficult to cut with. One of these days, I'll probably try again, but I'm going to wait until I'm able to talk to an expert in person and really fit one to my short stature.

That said, I find it hard to believe that a scythe could cut through what Mark's been weed whacking --- saplings up to an inch in diameter, full size poke plants three inches in diameter, the weeds under the edges of the mulch in our garden beds, etc. Sometimes, I think, the judicious use of gas is worth it. He's probably used less than half a gallon all week, and the farm is looking much better!

Comment by anna Mon Jun 20 07:34:03 2011
I've been using polycut blades on a Stihl FS 250 for 10 years, mainly to address the wild Himalayan blacberries that Luther Burbank introduced to the US and the birds have done the rest. They are particularly invasive and successful, growing 35 ft./year in the Pacific NW. These blades work VERY WELL, even on old dry thick bull canes, and don't cause sparks that steel would. I would suggest these to anyone with such a task ! You will break a few off if you hit holly, or if being a bit aggressive at attacking the old dry canes or knocking the top knot off the root system. {I do this to to slow regrowth, and come back in 2-3 weeks to spray VERY minimally with Crossbow to nip new sprouts.]
Comment by Pozole Fri Jun 8 01:08:12 2012

Pozole --- I'm glad we don't have Himalayan blackberries here --- they sound terrible. Of course, we do have lots of Japanese honeysuckle that twines around everything and can't even be weedeaten out --- you really have to go after it with hand tools and lots of ripping.

Although Mark likes these fingers, I think he prefers the ninja blade for tough applications, and string for edging.

Comment by anna Fri Jun 8 08:00:09 2012

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