Armored Cable? Springy Stand-off?
December 9, 2014 9:28 AM   Subscribe

When I use the hedge trimmer to do anything except trimming hedges (such as trimming the weeds that grow between the wooden steps out back), I inevitably nick the power cord. I need something that will either help keep the power cord away from my feet (like an extra-long "strain relief" spring), or a better shielded cord that is trimmer-proof. Suggestions?
posted by IAmBroom to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would recommend ENT (which Electricians also call Smurf conduit).
Both the blue and the orange box stores sell it, as well as many other hardware stores.
You can cut the ENT down one side, which will allow you to push the cord right in and out.

Also, I hope you are applying a generous helping of electrical tape on any nicks in the power cord.
posted by Flood at 9:36 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Nicked too deep for tape; it will require amputation.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:52 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

The only power cord that is trimmer proof is one that is laid out in a straight line in the opposite direction from your general working direction. It the general direction of trimming your weeds is left to right, your cable is laid out facing diagonally back left from where you stand, at an angle away from your left foot.
Buy a red or orange cord.
I also found medium-distance reading glasses helpful in certain trimming scenarios.
Don't tape and re-use a nicked power cord. "Amputation" is right. Buy two garden-safe power plugs and install them correctly at the stumps = make two shorter intact cords out of one broken one.
posted by Namlit at 10:00 AM on December 9, 2014

Response by poster: Buy a red or orange cord.

Good advice, except the current victim was brilliant white.

I'm thinking the ENT should provide the stiffness to keep the cord from drooping into the cutter area. Thanks!
posted by IAmBroom at 12:39 PM on December 9, 2014

Sometimes when I'm doing something where I need the cord to be kept out of the way, like weed whacking or vacuuming, I'll sling it over my shoulder. Then instead of going from the back of the machine and right down to the ground, it goes from the back of the machine, up to my shoulder, and then down over my back. Keeps it out of the way.

Also, if I'm doing something where running over the cord would be potentially disastrous, I'll lay it out before I start working such that it won't get in my way. I'll have it such that it's nice and straight from the plug to wherever the work area is (with neat coils as needed) and I'll choose a socket that will be somewhere behind me while I'm working. (If not possible, I'll have the cord come away from the socket in a wide loop that comes nowhere near the work area and ideally encompasses a tree or post that can be used to guide the cord, and then bring it back around from behind me.) Then I'll work the area from the part closest to the socket to the part farthest away, so that ideally I'm only ever pulling out more cord rather than trying to push it back. Not only does this make it less likely that I'll run over the cord, it also just makes it a lot less annoying since the cord is much less in the way to begin with.

I know it seems like a silly amount of setup for a simple job like weed whacking the front steps, but I find that what I lose in prep time I gain back in time not wasted wrestling with the power cord. Anyway it takes less time to do than it just did for me to write about it, and it gives me a built-in opportunity to think about what I'm about to do so as to attack the job in an efficient and trouble-free manner. Chores like vacuuming or whacking are much more pleasant when they go smoothly, and a little attention to the setup really helps a lot in that regard, I find.

By all means try putting something on the cord if you think you really need it, but adjusting your setup is free and probably worth doing anyway, if you're not currently taking the time to do it thoughtfully.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:03 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Similar to the immediately preceding answer:

This is definitely best addressed by technique. Cords and hoses are always annoying but letting them just go wherever is a recipe for trouble. Usually when using a corded electrical hedge trimmer, leaf blower, or a hose based lawn sprayer, I normally have the cord or hose going up my arm, around the back of my neck, and under the armpit on that side. This leaves the tool-using arm free to manipulate the tool, the opposite arm free to help out, but also ensures the cord or hose is placed such that it can be quickly reached and whipped out of the way by the free arm.

Power tools deserve some respect and you should be spending some time preparing to do the work, which includes laying out the cord ahead of time in a manner where it is not dragged through the work area. With age I have discovered an appreciation that the actual use of a tool is often the easiest part of a job, and that proper preparation and cleanup is often the more time consuming bit.
posted by jgreco at 1:59 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Have you considered a gasoline powered hedge trimmer?
posted by tckma at 2:46 PM on December 9, 2014

I'd go with a new cordless electric one personally. I know, not answering the question as asked. I swear, all the most helpful things I've ever posted on Metafilter have been deleted.
posted by w0mbat at 5:41 PM on December 9, 2014

Response by poster: While ordinarily "just buy a new hedge trimmer" answers might be annoyingly not-helpful, as it turns out I'm moving in a week, and the landlord owns the trimmer... so, thanks for pointing out tips for my next hedge trimmer purchase!
posted by IAmBroom at 7:39 AM on December 10, 2014

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