A Master Gardner explains how to Sharpen Pruning Shears and other Garden tools
How to Sharpen Pruning Shears
Sharp pruning shears make life easier than a pair of dull, rusty shears. You can easily sharpen your pruning shears at home with a medium or coarse diamond hand file. After you clean the shears and remove rust with a piece of steel wool, use the file to sharpen the cutting blade of the shears. Once the shears are sharpened, coat them in linseed oil to prevent rust.
Put on protective gloves.It is important the you protect your hands from the pruning shears while cleaning and sharpening them. The best way to do this is by putting on a pair of heavy duty gardening gloves. Opt for thick leather gloves if possible.
Wear goggles.You will also want to make sure your eyes are protected while sharpening pruning shears. The best way to do this is to wear a pair of safety glasses or goggles. Protective eyewear will prevent shards of metal or rust from injuring your eyes while cleaning and sharpening the shears.
Seek medical treatment if you injure yourself.Cleaning and sharpening gardening tools can be dangerous. If you accidentally cut yourself while cleaning or sharpening your pruning shears, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Cleaning the Shears
Scrub the blades with warm soapy water.Before you attempt to sharpen pruning shears, you will need to wash them. Fill a container or sink with warm water and two teaspoons of dish soap. Dip a stiff brush into the soapy water. Scrub each blade with the brush.
Rinse the blades.Once you have scrubbed the debris from the shears with warm, soapy water, you will need to make sure the soap is completely removed from the blades. Rinse each blade thoroughly with clean, cool water. Repeat until they are free from soap.
Dry the blades.Grab a thick, dry cloth like a towel. Gently wipe the top blade dry with the towel. Then use the towel to wipe the bottom blade dry. Be careful as you dry the blades, making sure you do not cut yourself.
Buff off any rust.Once you have washed and dried the shears, examine each blade for rust. It is common for rust to appear on pruning shears, and it is important that you remove it prior to sharpening them. Take a piece of medium-coarse steel wool and carefully buff off the rust.
- After you buff off the rust, rinse the blades again.
- After rinsing the blades, dry them with a towel.
Sharpening the Blades
Secure the pruners in a bench vise.If you have a bench vise, you should use it to secure the pruners. This will make sharpening the blades safer and easier. Open the shears wide and make sure the beveled edge of the cutting blade is facing you. Then secure the pruners in the bench vise.
Position the file.You will use a medium or coarse diamond hand file to sharpen the pruning shears. Position the file against the cutting blade. The file should be at the same angle as the bevel. You will maintain this angle as you sharpen the blades.
Draw the file along the contour of the blade.Using one smooth stroke, draw the file along the contour of the blade. Use one smooth stroke to move the file from the base to the tip, in the direction away from your body. Use moderate pressure as you file.
- Make sure you always keep the file at the same angle during the entire stroke.
- Never file toward yourself. Instead, make sure you file away from your body.
File until a sharp edge forms.Continue to file in single, smooth strokes until a sharp edge forms on the blade of your pruning shears. This should take anywhere between 10 and 20 strokes. It will take you several minutes to complete the sharpening.
- If you have bypass or anvil style pruners, you will only sharpen the beveled cutting blade.
- For all other types of pruning shears, repeat this step on the opposite blade.
File off burrs on the blade’s backside.Once you are done sharpening the blades of your pruning shears, you will want to remove any burrs that accrued on the backside of the blade. Turn the shears over and file the backside with a few strokes to remove the burrs.
Finish with linseed oil.Once you have sharpened your pruning shears, you will need to wipe linseed oil over the blades to prevent rust. Dip a soft cloth in the linseed oil and gently wipe the cloth over the blades. Store the blades until next use.
Video: Sharpening Hand Pruners
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