Straw Bale-Tools – Shaving Surfaces with Hedge Saws

We do not only want to trim a few protruding stalks with hedge saws, in most cases we want a plane surface to save plaster and to avoid different drying times, even if bales have slight differences in thickness or are bulged or not exactly installed straight. Even if there are customers who prefer a more organic-hunched surface, in most cases they mean slight bumps in the (hand) plaster and not simply covering uneven bales with the plaster. The cutting of the hunches of straw bales is long-term work, but it really becomes hard work with blunt hedge saws. Unfortunately, sharpening is often as expensive as buying a new one (Tip: unscrew the blades and take it apart, then it is much easier). A tip to save energy is also to pick hedge saws with a rather shorter sword (about 50-60 cm). The longer the sword, the more pressure we need to push on the bale surface, and the harder it is to shave a round wall or vault on the inside. In terms of strength: from 450W, hedge trimmers are robust and strong enough. The sharpness of the knives is much more important. Hedge saws are among the safest machines (since they cut only between the knives). Nevertheless, you can tweak neatly with hedge saws (a small cut with painful bruising is the result). It can happen when you sit on the scaffolding shaving the walls. More often, if you don’t take care, you will cut the cable and cause a short circuit. Therefore, it is best to carry the cable over your shoulder. Or choose a model with a battery (but they are usually not strong enough and the blades don’t cut to the end).

How to work with a hedgesaw:

  • Hold the blade of the hedge-trimmer flat to the surface if you just want to trim halms for a nice plaster-surface (especially after you stuffed holes and halms are exceeding the surface). See picture above right.
  • Hold the blade angled and with pressure to the surface (see picture above left) if you want to cut the surface of the bales. In most cases this is necessary to flatten the walls. The more flat the wall is, the less plaster you need, the faster it will dry, the faster you can proceed on this wall. Plaster is also more expansive than straw, so its good to invest more time in the proper preparation and save time with the plaster. One more thing: Cutting the halms helps also for adhaesion of the plaster, as halms are covered with a thin layer of wax. Its way better to cut the halms then to let the bales 1 year in the attic, as some people recommend for a better adhaesion. The wax helps, making the halms more resistant against moisture.