Strong and stable … and sharp
Strong and stable … and sharp
Here in the environs of Niwaki HQ, the sun and rain have conspired to send our gardens and hedgerows into overdrive, presenting the perfect excuse to dust off our Niwaki Original Tripod Ladders (Ha! As if we’d let them get dusty!), don our favourite, weather-beaten Niwaki Canvas Cap, sharpen our trusty Niwaki Garden Shears and enter the fray.
NB the front legs are also adjustable on the EN Pro Adjustable models. These ladders meet EN-131 standards, so are essential for pro users.
The fancy version of our standard Canvas Cap.
We get so used to working with the Niwaki Original and En-Pro Adjustable Tripod ladders that we sometimes forget what it was like in the dark ages of ordinary, A-frame and leaning ladders. Traditional ladders were a by-word for imminent disaster. Sit-coms and cartoons of the late 20th Century were full of mishaps involving hapless heroes and heroines comically wobbling their way towards A&E (that’s ER for our North American readers). What a different comedic cultural landscape we might have known had Niwaki Jake been born decades earlier? Makes you think.
Discussing the benefits of the tripod design with a customer at Gathering (a recent event held at the peerless Burford Garden Co.), we were reminded just how reassuring it is to climb a three-footed ladder for the first time and discover there is no wobble. Of course, it makes perfect sense once you try it.
So what’s really going on, physics-wise? It’s all to do with points of contact. If you’ll allow us to get technical for a moment: with three legs there are three points which determine a plane that uniquely coincides with the planar surface regardless of the lengths of the legs; as long as the vertical projection of the centre of gravity of the body (that’s you) lies within the three points of contact, the body (still you) remains stable. The best bit is, the supporting surface need not be a plane - the three points of contact will still determine a plane and provide stability on a curved or irregular surface. So in effect, a Tripod Ladder tames the very ground beneath your feet. Incredible!
It’s not just the number of legs that sets our Tripod Ladders apart from the crowd. You’ll notice that the front legs sweep gracefully outwards as they reach the ground, allowing for wider steps lower down the ladder, and maximising the sweet spot for your centre of gravity.
You might think that all this stability would mean the ladders are heavy and unwieldy. While it’s true that the shear scale of the 15' necessitates a helper when moving it about, and that the additional adjustable front legs of the EN-Pro Adjustable Ladders do add some weight, the aluminium alloy construction means all models are light enough to lift without breaking too much of a sweat. You will really appreciate this manoeuvrability when lifting them on to roof racks or storage hooks. Of course, if you’re worried about your friends and family trying to borrow it all the time, we won’t mind if you downplay this particular advantage.
There are other neat features to mention: the catch that operates the adjustable single rear leg (common to all models) is spring-operated, so unless you’re pulling it back to alter the leg-length it will be trying to clip itself into place. This little feature is unique to Niwaki’s ladders and makes them much simpler to operate, especially if you’re wearing gloves. And that single back leg is great for poking into hedges, letting you get right up close to the action.
Then there’s the clawed feet. Each rounded foot has been scooped out to make four pointy bits (sorry – more technical jargon) that dig into soft ground. For hard surfaces, the Rubber Feet should be affixed, a task made much simpler by the easy twist-on design. It’s easier than putting on your own socks, although there is one more foot to worry about.
Easy twist-on, twist-off. Use these on hard ground for extra grip.
Can we talk briefly about Niwaki Garden Shears? In a survey of satisfied Niwaki Tripod Ladder owners, very few mentioned they were climbing theirs exclusively for the view. So when you’re several feet off the ground, feeling smugly wobble-free, you’re going to want a correspondingly effective tool in your hands. At this time of year, you can’t go wrong with our best-selling Niwaki Garden Shears. Available with a standard (best for close combat) or long handle (for reaching up – or down – without over-exertion), we consider them essential bits of kits, that, when cared for correctly, will last for many, many years. Last month, we sat down with Niwaki founder Jake Hobson for a masterclass in sharpening shears. Watch the video or bookmark it for future reference.