Straight Shaft vs. Curved Shaft String Trimmers: What’s the Difference?

If you’re a homeowner with a lawn and garden to take care of, then you know that there are tons of different tools and equipment you need to do the job right. And among the many tool options out there, one of the most important is your string trimmer.

String trimmers come in two varieties: straight shaft and curved shaft. If you’re in the market for a new string trimmer, you may be wondering what the difference is between a straight shaft and a curved shaft model. Both have their pros and cons, but which one is right for you? Let’s take a look at the differences between these two types of trimmers.

What is a String Trimmer and What Does it Do? 

A String Trimmer is a gardening tool designed to cut through grass and other types of vegetation with a strong rotating line, typically referred to as a “string”. String trimmers are most commonly powered by gas engines , but can also be powered by electric motors .

A string trimmer operates using the same basic principle as any rotary lawn mower. The motor spins a shaft, which turns gears, which turn the cutting head. The cutting head contains the rotating line that carries electricity back to the battery on some varieties of electric trimmer, or the gas engine on gas powered models.

The curvature of the string is what determines how powerful your string trimmer is. The wider the curve, the more power it will have.

What Does the Shaft Do?

The shaft connects the motor to the cutting head. The cutting head is where the shaft meets with the string trimmer line, which spins at a high rate of speed in order to cut weeds and grass, or other vegetation.

The shaft has the wires running between the motor at the top and the cutting head at the bottom. It also has one or more handholds and handles, to provide the stability and operating support for using the string trimmer.

Straight Shaft String Trimmers

As you may have guessed, a straight shaft string trimmer is one where the shaft is perfectly straight. A straight shaft is typically longer than their curved shaft counterparts.


A straight shaft on a string trimmer is more practically functional than a curved shaft. For one thing, the drive cable doesn’t have to accommodate the curve in the shaft, meaning it can be tight and perfectly straight and allow more torque and power to pass through it.

These string trimmers are longer and therefore have a longer reach. They also have less vibrations due to the tautness of the straight drive cable.

Reasons to Use

Straight-shaft string trimmers feature a straight handle and blade, which can be more comfortable for taller people, and they will have a longer reach so you can cover more ground in the same amount of time.

Due to the drive chain being straight and more taut, straight shaft string trimmers are more powerful and produce more torque. This is helpful when dealing with thick grass and weeds, as well as bushes and hedges on the edge of a property.

Because it’s more powerful, a straight shaft trimmer can have multiple different attachment heads put on it, such as pole saws, hedge clippers, edgers, and even cultivators. You can also add a stronger string gauge and even metal blades instead of string should you need to. This string trimmer is capable of handling that work.

Curved Shaft String Trimmers

A string trimmer with a curved shaft bends in at the bottom, which makes it much easier to maneuver around trees, rocks, bushes, flowerbeds and other obstacles. Because of its design, curved shaft trimmers are far more suitable for use in tight spaces where there is less room to work.


A curved shaft string trimmer typically has a shorter shaft than a straight shaft model, which makes it possible for some users to use a curved shaft string trimmer without having to extend their arms. They are typically lighter than straight shaft trimmers, and also feel better balanced.

The drive cable in a curved shaft string trimmer has to curve around the bend in the shaft, meaning it can loosen over time, and it can’t ever be as powerful as a straight drive cable.

Reasons to Use

The design of the curved shaft makes it easier to cut closer to objects that are in close quarters because you don’t have as far to reach with your arm. It is also lighter and more balanced, so for most homeowners and non-professional gardeners, this type of string trimmer should be all that you need. Due to the lighter weight, it is also easier to handle over long periods of time, and doesn’t wear down your energy and strength as much.

Curved shaft string trimmers are generally less expensive than their straight shaft counterparts, and they are better suited for smaller lawns with lots of obstacles in close quarters, due to the lighter weight and more maneuverable handling.

Straight vs. Curved Shafts – Key Features Compared

Let’s take a look at some key features that many people should take into consideration when buying a string trimmer for their lawn and garden. With each feature, if that specific one is most important to you when shopping for trimmers we’ll help you compare straight shafts and curved shafts to see which one is a better purchase.

Weight and Balance

A lighter weight model is going to feel less tiring over a long day out in the garden, and is also likely going to be better balanced and easier to maneuver. Curved shaft models are typically lighter than straight shaft models. This is because they are less powerful and have smaller engines, though they are also less capable of trimming really strong and thick grasses and weeds.

If you are tall, however, a straight shaft string trimmer could be easier to balance with because you won’t be bending over as much for the trimmer to reach the ground. This bending over with a curved shaft trimmer could cause more discomfort than the extra weight of the straight shaft model.


A straight shaft string trimmer is typically going to be more powerful than one with a curved shaft. One major reason is that the majority of today’s straight shaft trimmers feature a gearbox. Because of this, their basic power and torque strength is frequently superior. Straight trimmers are the standard in industrial and commercial settings because of this power difference.

On the other hand, curved shaft trimmers generally lack a gearbox and deliver less torque. Because of their lower power, these trimmers are less prone to vibrate and fall out of balance, however, so it’s a tradeoff. The majority of home users don’t require a lot of torque, so they might tend to go for curved shaft models.

Cutting Head Options

Like the power discussion above, straight shaft string trimmers have more cutting head options. You can put on many different attachments to do many different tasks, like pole saws, hedge clippers, edgers, and potentially cultivators if you need to do some tilling.

Due to their lower power output, curved shaft string trimmers do not have as many cutting head options. They also don’t have the capacity to handle metal blades instead of string, so you are likely only able to use nylon or other soft string with a curved shaft trimmer.

Price and Duration

Curved shaft trimmers are typically less expensive than straight shaft ones. On average, curved trimmers are priced $30 less than straight shaft versions. They are therefore the best option for residential users and amateur gardeners on a budget.

On the other hand, straight shaft string trimmers usually are slightly more expensive on average. However, their construction typically allows them to better resist wear and strain. The fact that their shaft is perfectly straight means any wires or cables inside will not rub or wear out against the curve in the shaft. It also allows them to work more productively for longer, a feature which results in greater longevity.

Also, keep in mind the long-term maintenance charges for your new trimmer. Given that string lines deteriorate with usage, models that utilize them, which curved shaft string trimmers do, will require new line replacements on a regular basis. If you choose a model that has a specific name-brand string or an uncommon gauge that is difficult to come by in stores, the price may also be higher.

Which One is Better?

So, which is better? When it comes to straight shaft or curved shaft string trimmers, there’s no right answer. The best option for you will depend on your needs and preferences. What are some of the things that might help you decide between these two options? If you have a smaller area to maintain, then a curved shaft version would be more convenient because they are lighter weight with less reach than long ones.

However, if you need to cover large areas quickly then a longer-reach version may suit your needs better. A lot also depends on what type of cutting head attachments you prefer – whether nylon line or metal blades work best for your yard maintenance tasks.

And, if you’re on a budget or a very new gardener and you only need a string trimmer for small and infrequent tasks, then a curved shaft model will get the job done just as easy as a straight shaft trimmer. Professional gardeners, on the other hand, need all of the power and durability they can get, which are found mostly in straight shaft models.


Overall both straight shaft or curved shaft string trimmers have their pros and cons, so it really is up to you and your specific needs and restrictions which model you purchase. Both types of string trimmers can be equally effective when used properly, so if you have the opportunity to try out both options before making a purchase, that would help.

However, if you don’t have that opportunity, we hope this article has given you enough information to choose the best string trimmer for your garden work. If you are looking for a specific model, or are interested in purchasing a string trimmer this year, please read through our article on the 8 Best String Trimmers currently available. We wish you the best of luck with all of your lawn and garden endeavors!

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Written by Linda Chan
Linda Chan is a passionate gardener and writer with a background in horticulture and landscape design. She has over 10 years of experience working in the lawn care industry and has a deep understanding of the science and art of keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful.