Expanding on my recent review of the Ryobi 40V String Trimmer and Edger, I wanted to see what the Ryobi Brush Cutter Attachment was all about. Back in college, I worked a summer job maintaining a large number of properties including several homes, a horse barn, associated fields and a new housing development. This job was great for a young man as we got to play with a lot of very fun tools like tractors, chainsaws and brush hogs (you can just hear Tim Allen snorting). My favorite tools were the brush cutters we used. Nothing like strapping on a harness over your chest and getting to work slinging a gas-powered tool capable of mowing down an acre of heavy brush. All before lunch time. So how does the Ryobi Brush Cutter Attachment compare to those beasts? Let’s find out as we dive into this Ryobi brush cutter review!
Expand-ing our Tool Collection
After receiving and reviewing the 40V Trimmer and Edger, I was very impressed with Ryobi’s Expand-It system. So much so that I made a special trip out to my local Home Depot to purchase the Ryobi Brush Cutter Attachment. Our new home has a large hill in the back that hasn’t seen much maintenance performed on it in the 17 years since the house was built. It’s a mixture of mostly wild grasses, some saplings and some very heavy weeds and brush (and the occasional stone). While the string trimmer does a nice job on the smaller weeds and grass around the house, this job required something with a little more oomf.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a brush cutter is basically a weed whacker on steroids. Generally for purpose built machines, they have a larger engine size as they are swinging a much heavier blade. In the case of the Ryobi Brush Cutter Attachment, it comes with a standard tri-arc blade. However, there are other blades out there (also compatible with the Ryobi Brush Cutter attachment) that are much like a circular saw blade. Brush Cutters are used to do exactly that, mow down the much heavier stuff like large weeds, bushes and small saplings that tend to grow up when things are left untended for too long.
A Universal Brush Cutter Attachment Fit
Another nice advantage to this tool is that it can be used with more than just the Ryobi powerhead. This will work with most other universal attachment power heads, so if you already have another power head, you can likely purchase just the attachment you need. NOTE: do check the product manual for your powerhead of choice to make sure that brush cutters are an acceptable attachment. Not all powerheads are created equal, and even some Ryobi powerheads may recommend you not attach a brush cutter head.
Here’s a few other stats from Home Depot’s website:
• Converts a grass trimmer into a brush cutter
• Use to cut weeds and pulpy stalks
• 8 in. Dia tri-arc blade is made from heavy grade steel for durability
• Heavy-duty gear box for a long life
• Straight shaft configuration provides excellent reach
• Attaches in seconds without tools
• 3-year warranty
Heavy Brush Cutting
The Ryobi brush cutter blade install was pretty straight forward. I pulled my new Ryobi Brush Cutter Attachment out of the box and secured the blade to the tool per the instructions manual. I then added the additional J-Handle, as well as the shoulder harness attachment on to the shaft and set to work. Start up was quick and easy and the only tool needed was provided.
My first task was to take a crack at the hillside and see what I was getting in to. Also, word of warning, this tool is essentially a circular saw at the end of a stick. Please take appropriate cautions and wear the appropriate safety gear, especially heavy work boots! Keep the business end of the brush cutter well away from anything you don’t want to sever. Read more about why this is a good idea in my review of the Hytest Wellington work boots – Coming Soon to Home Fixated!
In maybe 15 to 20 minutes of work, the Ryobi Brush Cutter Attachment and I had cut a 10-15 foot swath of the hillside back. During that time I ran in to, and cut straight through, a large number of weeds with ¼” to ¾” diameters with ease. I also ran in to several larger saplings and brush that did require a couple of bumps to get through.
The strap and included J-Handle provided greater control than the standard string trimmer powerhead handle, and the strap in particular is nice for providing you a pivot point. This point allows you to swing the tool back and forth in arcs, making good progress in quick order. I am impressed with how much I cut down in a reasonably short amount of time. That said, the hill is steep and I really wasn’t feeling up to cutting the whole thing down in one day…so I’ll be back to handle the rest in the near future.
Taking a Little More Off the Top
For the next task, I set out to trim back the wild grasses we have planted around the pond in the front of the house. Each year these need to be trimmed back when winter sets in. While a string trimmer, or possibly a hedge trimmer would also work for this task, it was ideally suited to the Ryobi brush cutter’s talents, as each stand of grass was a foot or more in diameter. This would have taken some effort to chew through with a string trimmer.
Again in no time at all, I cut down the bulk of the work before me. I made the mistake of trying to get a little too fancy and attempted to cleanly trim edges, meaning I got the heads too close to my feet. That’s now a story for another article, but be careful with any brush cutting attachment. In any event, the brush cutter did its job in handling the bulky material cleanly and quickly.
In my limited use, the blades are still holding their original edge well. Once those do wear down, the Ryobi brush cutter blade can actually be flipped over, doubling the life of the blade.
If you have a Ryobi or other universal Powerhead, and you’re looking for a brush cutter attachment, this is really a no-brainer. The Expand-It Ryobi Brush Cutter Attachment is under $100 ($80 on Home Depot at the time of this article). Most other dedicated units or kits that include a brush cutter start at $130 and quickly run northward from there.
The flexibility to use this with multiple manufacturers, and different blades is also a huge plus. It gets the work done. Is it as powerful as some of the dedicated units that cost $500 or more? Probably not, but that depends more so on the powerhead than on the attachment itself, and there are quite a few powerheads out there that can put some decent power through this.
Overall, I’m happy with the purchase. For a small investment, I got another great use out of my 40V powerhead and it’s doing exactly what I need it to…cut brush! Now it’s time to clean up – if only there was another attachment for that!
If you’re looking to add to your own collection of yard work tools, you can find the Ryobi Brush Cutter Attachment at your local neighborhood Home Depot or find it online at the links below.
Expand-It 8 in. Ryobi Brush Cutter Trimmer Attachment