Who Invented The String Trimmer?

By Power Tools

March 7, 2021

The string trimmer, also known as the weed eater, was invented in the early 1970s by George Ballas, from Houston in Texas. 

A string trimmer is a garden tool, powered by gasoline, electricity, or a battery. It is used to cut grass, small weeds, and groundcover. 

Most commonly, this tool is used to cut low foliage and weeds that are in irregular terrain, or in corners that are hard to get to by other means. 

Who invented the string trimmer

It works by using a whirling monofilament line, instead of simply using a blade. This then protrudes from the rotating spindle, which is situated at the end of a long shaft, topped by a motor that keeps it going.  

Basically, the string trimmer works on a principle, which states that a line that spins fast enough on its center can stiffen thanks to the centrifugal force. Essentially, the faster it spins, the more rigid the line is, and the better it can be used to cut grass, as it slices through. 

Different types of string trimmers will use different monofilament lines, in order to cut through grass, or through tougher things such as woody plants.

For the more powerful string trimmers, they will often use monofilament lines that have an extruded shape, as it helps them slash through even better. 

When was the first string trimmer invented?

The first string trimmer was invented in the early 1970s, by George Ballas, of Houston, in Texas. He is said to have come up with the idea while watching the revolving action of cleaning brushes, in an automatic car wash. The observation of the centrifugal force seemed to spark the idea. 

His first-ever functional trimmer was made with pieces of heavy-duty fishing line, which were attached to a popcorn can then bolted to an edger.

The fishing line, when spun fast enough around its center, was able to cut through grass and weeds, in a highly effective way. This is why George Ballas nicknamed his creation the “weed eater”, and why that is its most common use. 

Since then, the string trimmer has continued to evolve, while adhering to the same principle and mechanics.

Different types of monofilament lines are now used, in order to slash and cut through different types of grass, weeds, and woody plants.

It is especially useful for cutting down weeds that are located over irregular terrain, or in hard-to-get places, where other machines used to cut down weeds would struggle to reach. 

Who invented the whipper snipper?

The whipper snipper, also known as the weed eater, or as the string trimmer, was invented by George C. Ballas, in the early 1970s. 

George Ballas was an American entrepreneur, as shown with his invention of the whipper snipper, and he is the father of the famous ballroom dancer Corky Ballas.

The line has continued with Mark Ballas, who is a professional dancer on ‘Dancing with the Stars’. 

Going back to George Ballas, he was born in 1925, in Louisiana, and was the son of Greek immigrants. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the United States Army, during World War II, and he, later on, went on to serve in the Korean War. He married in 1951 and had five children. 

It was in the early 1970s when he came up with the idea for the whipper snipper, and when he first created it. He got over half a million dollars in sales, in the first year alone! By 1977, the sales were up to 80 million dollars, and the following year he decided to sell his garden tool to the Emerson Electric Company. 

He died in June of 2011, and his invention, the whipper snipper, is still widely used nowadays as a common garden tool for cutting through weeds, grass, and woody plants. 

What is the difference between a line trimmer and a whipper snipper?

Line trimmers, also known as grass trimmers, and whipper snippers, also known as brush cutters, are often used interchangeably for the same job.

They help keep the grass, weeds, and similar under control, as they can be used to trim it all down in a fast and efficient way. But as they are two separate tools, they can’t be exactly the same thing, right? So what are the main differences between a line trimmer and a whipper snipper? 

One of the main differences between them is that whipper snippers have straight shafts, and line trimmers have bent shafts. As simple as that. And the type of shaft can affect the performance, making one or the other more or less ideal for certain tasks. 

Straight shafts, for example, are better suited for heavy-duty performance. You can also have the possibility of attaching a blade onto them, which is useful for cutting larger areas of grass, especially the sections that aren’t accessible to the mower, for whatever reason. 

The bent shafts make line trimmers a lot more suited to homeowners and home use, for smaller sections of grass and weeds. Leaving the whipper snippers, to professional use. 

There can be other differences, such as the weight, design, engine, and similar. But these differences are easier to spot between different brands and models, rather than between the tools themselves, as they really are very similar.