Monday, February 23, 2015

Garden Guru Hori Hori Tool Review

It's a preview more than a review.  The ground is frozen, and I can barely see where my strawberries lie buried 'neath the snow.

Obviously I haven't gotten this thing dirty yet.

For years I have used an old cheap stainless steel fixed blade knife that I picked up at a hardware store in the 1970s to dig dandelions out of the lawn, flower beds, or other spots in the garden where I couldn't get with a hoe.  I've also used a cheap khukuri for garden work or sometimes just a broken blade from a pair of pruning shears.  The concept of a longer, narrow piece of steel with one or more sharp edges for use in gardening and landscaping makes sense to me.

I thought it might be fun to try one of these Japanese Hori Hori knives.  Hori means "to dig", and I guess "hori hori" means "dig faster".  Since it is a shovel of sorts, it makes sense for the blade to be concave.  You have a spear-shaped point with one side ground to a smooth, sharp edge, the other side having serrations.

Serrated edges are not saws, to my way of thinking, but they will saw through smaller limbs with relative ease and neatness. 

I would advise against running with the Hori Hori unsheathed as it would likely make a really nasty puncture wound if a person were to fall the business end of it.

Like a lot of shovels and trowels, the blade on the Hori Hori is marked off for use in determining things like planting depth.  Such markings are handy, though for planting I tend to plant "pretty deep" and "not very deep", along with "that looks about right".  The knife as a whole will probably get used more for measuring.  The overall length is almost exactly 12 inches, with seven inches of it being blade.  It should be easy to get the tomato plants evenly spaced. 

One thing I need to add before I forget regards this particular brand of Hori Hori.  I'm sure these are made in some Chinese factory, but Garden Guru Lawn & Garden Tools come from Natan Products, LLC, an apparently American company owned by Charles Botts.  These are sold through Amazon.  Mr. Botts appears to be very enthusiastic about and dedicated to customer service.  I was emailed a PDF sharpening and care guide for the GG Hori Hori after I purchased the product.  This impressed me. 

The blade on the Garden Guru Hori Hori is stainless steel.  It's thick stainless, though I get the impression that it's going to be just a little soft.  Of course, excess brittleness would not be good trait for a tool of this type, so I understand.  Still, it will be interesting to see how this blade holds up to my hard, rocky soil and hard use.  I do not plan on using it as a prybar.  Things happen sometimes.

You can't exactly call it full-tang, but that appears to be a fairly solid set up.  I would also note that the fit and finish of the tool is outstanding.  Everything is smooth with no gaps, and the wide rosewood grip is downright pretty.  It may not look quite so good come September.  We'll see.  In any case, I don't expect to have much trouble with blisters given the comfortable width of the grip.

The sheath is a utilitarian nylon affair with a lining that should stand up to the blade well enough.  It is one of the reasons I chose the Garden Guru Hori Hori.  I definitely wanted a sheath but not a leather one.  I get wet too much.  The belt loop could be stiffer, but I think I'll like it well enough.  I'll probably add a paracord lanyard as the grip has a hole for one.

I wish I had more experiential data.  I also wish I could get outside without freezing.  I hope to be able to give a more thorough follow up in four or five months.  Meanwhile, the price for this tool on Amazon was $25.99, and I don't think I was charged any shipping.  It's not completely unreasonable, though it verges into that near-hipster region of pointless expenditures -- after all, I already have a perfectly good broken pruning shear blade.  


  1. Hori means "to dig", and I guess "hori hori" means "dig faster".
    I LOLed.

  2. Our humor may not be sophisticated, but it doesn't require a lot of exposition.