“ Manufacturer: Qualcast / Type: Garden Shredder „
CONFESSIONS FROM THE SCORCHED EARTH SCHOOL OF HORTICULTURE
I'm not a keen gardener to say the least, and the more of it that I can nuke just to keep nature in check the better. It doesn't help that we have about 140 feet of back garden to keep tidy - you'll note I don't say 'looking nice'!
As we live in a smokeless zone, we're not allowed bonfires to get rid of garden waste, so it more or less behoves our local council to provide a free 'green waste' service, subject to a fortnightly schedule throughout the year, alternated with plastics recycling. We've taken the liberty of applying for an extra set of bags, bringing our total to four. They're about the size of IKEA bags, so you'll see that to make good use of them, whatever needs to go in them should be made as small as possible, and this is where a compactor/shredder comes into its own.
I'm now on my fourth one since getting the first, a disastrously noisy B&D job about fifteen years ago. Then came a Bosch, which despite its lineage didn't seem to last all that long, although it did get lent out quite a lot. One thing the Bosch did teach me though is that not all shredders have to be particularly noisy, this one having a kind of Archimedean screw to grab and grind its prey.
Then came a more 'generic' one branded by my local garden centre working in a similar quiet manner with plain gears to do the 'masticating'. To be honest, for the £100 paid, it faired better than the Bosch and lasted longer, but recently gave up the ghost. Its switch wouldn't stay on without constant pressure, which made dispatching blackberries a rather hazardous one-handed business as they whipped around threatening all kinds of injuries to the arms and face!
BUY ME AND CHOP ONE
In comes the next contestant, a Qualcast QS42, which for some unknown reason is also known as SDS2810, so let's see how this one fares. At least it comes with a two-year warranty this time!
Incidentally, perusal of the official Qualcast web-site fails to show this product. This is because Qualcast also allow the Home Retail Group (Homebase and Argos) to commission products under the Qualcast name, presumably with provisos relating to build quality etc.
Weighing in at around £149, having been reduced from £199, it's about what I was expecting to pay for a 'silent' (and I use the word under advisement, as US lawyers are wont to say) shredder from a known brand.
So-called silent shredders are not silent. As you'd imagine anything with an electric motor that can grind saplings to a pulp is in no way noise-free. It is however fairly quiet, a bit like having a washing machine on very slow spin running in the garden. The other kind of shredder (and you probably only ever buy one of these unless your neighbours have already upset you) is the 'impact' type, which has a fast rotating disk with blades, into the gaping maw of which your debris is fed. This works more like a waste-disposal, and sounds just like one that's had half a tree plunged into it! If you've ever stood next to one of those machines that councils use for turning trees into woodchip by the roadside, you'll get a feel for it.
The Qualcast has some interesting features that I've not come across before. For one, it has a power safety interlock which prevents you from sticking anything fragile (e.g. a body part to which you are quite attached) up into the outlet to unblock it.
This is rather cleverly disguised as the latch for the large clear bin it has under it. Therefore to access the underside for maintenance, you have to remove the bin, which involves turning off the power - natty eh?
The large bin is in itself another innovation - well it's new to me anyway. Previously, I've had to use those tubular sprung bags to collect the newly-chewed debris from under the machine. Now I have a bin of maximum proportion with which to decant the stuff into the council's green bags.
THE DAILY GRIND
Further to the safe access to the underside, you can also remove a side hatch to clear the grinders too. Naturally, this can also only be done with the power off. If I'm brutally honest, this hatch is rather difficult to put back, and indeed takes many turns of four Allen keys to get off in the first place.
The moral? Don't let it get blocked. This usually happens with newly-cut sappy cuttings. I find that doing all my pruning one day, and the compacting two days later eradicates this.
Well, it is rather too eager to turn itself back off, but now that I've observed it doing this, it seems to be down to letting items brush against the top panel as they disappear south as the switch appears to be on something of a 'hair-trigger' as we gun-slingers say.
It's quite heavy and its two 'barbecue-style' wheels are set quite close, making it prone to falling over and twisting your wrist if you stray off a dead level path whilst towing or pushing it.
The power lead is commendably long and there's a kind of hopper designed to hold seccateurs etc into which you can tuck it after use. The whole shebang fits neatly into one of those green-and-cream outdoor storage cabinets made by Keter.