Anvil or ByPass
Ahh, the eternal question... which is better, Anvil or ByPass? At one point or another, it's the question we've all had as gardeners.
Well, the answer to "which is better" is actually, neither. Anvil and ByPass pruners are designed for different purposes and knowing when to use which can make pruning an easier and more successful activity for both you and your plants.
While the oft-maligned Anvil pruner has gotten a negative reputation for producing uneven cuts and crushing plants, it can be just the ticket when cutting through hard-to-cut dead or dry branches. Thanks to the double bevel style grind of the cutting blade, Anvil style pruners can cut through heavier, tougher wood with less effort or hand strength than ByPass blades. The knife like shape of the blade blade slices through heavy dense wood easier and most importantly, with even pressure on each side. The single blade, even pressure design, eliminates the possibility of "blade spread" often experienced when cutting dead hard or fibrous branches with ByPass pruners. However, due to the width of the "anvil" (the cutting block like surface of the pruners lower jaw), Anvil pruners are not able to cut as close to the junction of the branch being pruned, resulting in a larger "stump" which can cause unhealthy dieback. Also, because the anvil makes contact with both sides of the branch during the cutting process, the surface bark on the unpruned "live" portion of the branch can be left damaged, crushed, and exposed.
If you're getting your first pruner, make it a ByPass. The ByPass pruner is the must have, go-to tool for all gardeners of all levels. Their sharpened upper blade, "passes by" the unsharpened lower hook of ByPass pruners when the cut is completed. That scissors-like cutting action results in a cleaner, nearly flush pruning cut... a far closer cut than can be achieved with an Anvil blade. And because the lower hook makes contact with the branch on one side only, the hook can be strategically positioned to whichever side of the plant being removed. In this way, the resulting damage to the bark is on the discarded portion, rendering the damage irrelevant.
For most common everyday pruning of green and growing plants, ByPass pruners are recommended for their precision cutting ability. When cutting back larger dead, fallen, or previously pruned branches, you'll appreciate the extra strength you find using Anvil style cutters. Experienced gardeners know when to use both and will keep a sharp pair of both ByPass and Anvil tools in the shed.