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Only ten days before we were about to go away for a two month period our strimmer gave up the ghost whislt it was half way through mowing the rather small front lawn of our house. Not wanting to leave it for such a long time to become completely over grown I spent my remaining Dooyoo vouchers ona cheap replacement, the Black and Decker GL315 which has a 320 watt capacity electric engine. It needs to be plugged into the mains via an extension cable and this does mean that you have to be very careful with the trailing chord however it does have a system whereby the cable can be clipped into a holding device and then secured to your trouser belt so that it trails behind you reducing the risk that you will mow it by mistake. It is easy to assemble straight from the box, the handle and the black guard at the bottom are the only two things that need attaching and these are secured by a couple of screws in each which are provided, you will need a screw driver though. It is easy to operate and reasonably lightweight, I like the front mounted handle for your left hand which makes it easy to maneuver. What I have not been so impressed with is the fact that it is not very powerful and certainly on the first use with the longer grass growth it took longer to do the job than the one that it replaced, this is not a big problem as we have a small area of grass only however it would not be any good for a larger lawn. It is ok I guess for a small garden and it can operate as an edge trimmer as well, it cost me £23 on Amazon so it is cheap and you do get what you pay for.
Although we don't have the biggest of gardens, the areas around our rockery, and fences are inaccessible for the lawn mower, and so a strimmer is essential for us. In addition, there is an area of rough overgrown ground just off the drive, which the council are supposed to keep tidy but never do, so we also need to keep that in control too. Now I am not a big fan of cutting the grass to say the least. It's a slow laborious task at the best of times, and although I am not a big sufferer from hay fever, the cut grass is enough to set me off sneezing. Taking all this into account, it is essential that I like the tools with which I attempt the task, and this leads me onto the GL315 from Black and Decker. We bought this particular strimmer about 4 years ago now for £100, and it is still available in some shops and online, and I have seen one on a well-known Brazilian rainforest named online retailer for £61.50. The strimmer itself is not really designed for heavy-duty use; it is designed for the smaller gardens and more general use, with a 25cm-cutting arc. It comes with 6m of cable which isn't a great deal to be honest, so it is pretty likely that most people will also need a large extension reel to use in conjunction with it. It is pretty lightweight, weighing only 2.3kg, which makes it very easy to wield. It is a classed as a straight shaft model, however the design is slightly concave, which makes it easier to hold. It gives you 320W of power, which although not matching up with some of the more modern or more expensive models, is more than adequate power to get through the average garden, and as previously said, we have a bit of unkempt ground next to the drive, and it does a pretty respectable job of churning through that as well. One of my favourite things about this particular model of strimmer is the ergonomically designed shaft. As I mentioned, it is slightly concave, however it is also designed to be used double handed, with a small handle about a third of the way down the shaft which gives the user far more control, and prevents potentially dangerous wild swinging of the cutting head. Your other hand then is just responsible for depressing the button, which operates the strimmer, and I find that I can be quite precise about where I am cutting, which is quite unusual for me!!! There are two ways of using the GL315. Firstly, you can use it in the traditional strimmer manner, of holding it normally, and moving the cutting head over the area you wish to cut. However, there is a second way of operating it, which is quite clever and useful. (Well I thought so anyway!) There is a small guard around the bottom, which you can pull down to provide an edge. You then simply invert the machine, and basically use it upside down to cut a nice straight line, which is perfect for anyone who wants to cut along a plant border for example. We have such a border at the very back of our garden, and I have found this to be an excellent way to carefully cut a nice edge along it, without damaging any of the plants within the border, which is a nice extra feature. Now onto the cutting issue of spool (See what I did there!). Now this is the part of strimming, which is, make or break for me. There is nothing more frustrating than a strimmer which loses the wire every ten seconds, meaning you spend more time turning it off and playing with the spool reel than you do actually strimming. The GL315 uses a dual feed system, meaning you have 2 pieces of spool doing your cutting, which not only cuts down on the amount of time it takes to actually do the strimming, but keeps the length of each piece under control, so it doesn't get too long and cut itself off. In addition, it is auto feeds the spool out, so there is no annoying banging of the strimmer on the ground to get more spool out, and stopping to check the length every few strokes. Now I was actually pretty sceptical about the auto feed facility, as I've used one in the past, which purported to do something similar, with very little success, but I must admit that this model has pleasantly surprised me. In 4 years of use, I have never had to stop strimming for any reason apart from when the spool has completely run out, and that's not really the fault of the strimmer. The GL315 uses spool pretty economically really. This is due to the dual feed keeping the lengths under control, so there is very little waste, and when you have finished the job, there are very few pieces of blue spool dotted around the garden, as is the case with some other models. Changing the spool reel is also very easy compared to some models, with a simple press and turn mechanism for opening the holder, and the reel literally just slots out. New spool reels cost around £5 from most garden centres, and being a Black and Decker model, it's pretty easy to find the correct one. It's also available for delivery from many Internet sites too. I was initially concerned the first time I needed to replace the spool that being a dual feed one, it would be quite complicated to get both of the lines through the holes at the same time, however this worry was also misplaced, as it turns out to be a very easy task. Simply place the reel into the holder and rotate until the two pieces are into the two grooves, replace the cap by pressing and turning, and hey presto you are ready to resume strimming. The whole process takes less than a couple of minutes, and so provided that you have some spares in your shed, it won't hold you up for long. So to sum this model up, I would say that it is a very good strimmer for light to moderate use in the average sized garden. It is very reliable and simple to operate which is always a good thing. My only reservation would be that for very tall people, the shaft may be a little to short, I'm 6ft, and I find I have to stoop ever so slightly to hold the two handles, so anyone taller may have problems, although this could be a problem common to a lot of strimmers. All in all a good little product from Black and Decker which I would readily recommend. Thanks for reading this, and this review also appears on Ciao under my same username.