Curved and straight shaft weed eaters are two tools often thought to be variations of the same thing. In reality, they have two very different purposes and are each suited for a specific use.
Today I am going to break down both styles of string trimmers and highlight which one I prefer and why I never use one of these (after spending a ton of money on it). I learned this lesson the hard way after trying to make it work for a very long time and finally throwing in the towel.
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What’s the difference between curved and straight shaft weed eaters?
Put simply, curved shaft weed eaters have a downward curve that can act as a miniature mower whereas straight shaft weed eaters are longer and straight.
Curved and straight shaft weed eaters both function as trimmers for brush and edgers for the border of your yard, but are often used in different circumstances. I often see most commercial landscapers having both on board their trailers.
Each has pros and cons that make them uniquely situated to be “better” in each setting. I’ll walk you through my experience as an owner of both.
Pros and cons of curved shaft weed eaters
Pros of curved shaft weed eaters:
- Better to use for cutting flat surfaces over larger areas (think replacement for a mower in tight spots)
- Less expensive
Downsides of curved shaft weed eaters:
- Less flexible in their use case, for example I never use mine for edging
- Hurt my back because I am tall
- Less likely to be attachment-capable
- Often can be weaker
Curved shaft weed eaters certainly have their place, but in my experience as an owner of an ECHO gas-powered curve shaft weed eater – I never use it. I simply don’t need to. Most of the edging and trimming I do can be easily done with my EGO weed eater and attachment-capable tool.
When it comes to covering larger areas of grass, yeah it is slightly less convenient to use my straight-shaft – but I will gladly go at a weird angle for a few minutes to save on the back pain I get from leaning over with the tiny curved-shaft.
Who should use a curved shaft?
As much as I have been sippin’ Haterade when it comes to curved shaft weed eaters, they have their place. My neighbor, who is shorter than the average man, has a curved shaft lightweight weed eater that he loves. He uses it for everything.
But landscapers tend to use these when they have areas of grass to mow that are too small for their zero turns. It can quickly give you an even, flat cut in small areas that does better than a straight shaft weed eater due to the positioning of the head.
Other than that, people who accidentally bought one and don’t feel like getting another (which was me for a full year back in my youth).
Pros and cons of straight shaft weed eaters
Straight shaft weed eaters also have many pros and a few cons, for example:
- Longer, easier to have surgical precision with (I pride myself on this)
- Often come attachment-capable
- Better for edging
- Easier to handle
- More flexible in their use
- Generally have better torque as it can come with a straight driveshaft (flexible ones on curved shaft lose torque in their flexibility)
- Harder to use on flat surfaces as opposed to a curved shaft
- Can be more expensive
Who should use a straight shaft?
Just kidding – while I strongly prefer these, they aren’t perfect for everyone. But for the average homeowner who does trimming and edging themselves, I recommend a straight shaft trimmer 9/10 times. If you aren’t a landscaper and aren’t short, then you’ll strongly prefer a straight shaft trimmer to a curved shaft.
Which is better for edging? Curved vs Straight?
Straight shaft weed eaters are better for edging than curved shaft string trimmers.
Because they have a straight shaft, I have a much easier time using these weed eaters to edge around the yard. Curved shaft weed eaters make it much more difficult because they have to be held at a certain angle and are prone to spinning out of your hand when using, causing a mess.
Straight shaft all the way.
Are straight shaft weed eaters more powerful?
When evaluating power on a weed eater, there are a few things to note:
- Cutting swath, which indicates how long the string is that is actually doing the cutting. The larger the cutting swath, the more powerful the weed eater is.
- Rotations per minute, or RPM. How fast is the head spinning? This tells you how much power is being delivered.
Side-by-side, both straight shaft and a curved shaft weed eater could have identical metrics here and be considered the same amount of power.
In my experience, straight shaft weed eaters are more powerful – but that is likely just me being biased. There are some curved shaft weed eaters that can absolutely shred thick brush.
So in short, no – they are not more powerful unless they differ in cutting swath or RPMs.
My Choice: Straight or Curved Shaft Weed Eater
If I haven’t made it abundantly clear yet, I much prefer straight shaft weed eaters for many reasons. For starters, they are easier to use for tall people and homeowners. They also are more flexible with how they can be used and can be purchased with attachment capabilities. While they are larger and can sometimes be more expensive, I think you’ll agree with me that they make a lot more sense for the average Joe than a curved shaft string trimmer.
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As people who had to learn the hard way, we want you to know exactly what you are signing up for before you purchase a piece of equipment. That’s why we are committed to providing honest, easy-to-understand reviews that mean something.