All You Need To Know About Sharpening Your Garden Shears

Pruning plants can often intimidate gardeners. It shouldn’t be like this. Pruning is one of the best things you can do for plants in your garden and landscape. Getting proficient in pruning plants requires experience and the right tools.

Some gardening tools and shears hanged on a wall

Four tools for the well-equipped gardener:

The efficiency of these depends on the condition of their blades. On the contrary, any self-respecting gardener, whether professional or amateur, will tell you that it is essential to clean, disinfect and store your tools in adequate conditions because the beauty and health of your plants depend on them.

Why do you need to sharpen them correctly?

There’s one rule that says that no garden is beautiful without good garden tools! That makes perfect sense. Indeed, how can one rake the dead leaves without a rake, prune the roses without a pruner or soften the soil without a hoe? 

However, this gardening equipment must be up to the task of carrying out. The maintenance will do the greatest good for your tools. Sharpening is one of them, and it is essential because tools with blunt parts cut poorly. The size is not precise; the herbs and branches are crushed or left to shreds when cutting, which weakens the plant and opens the door to pests and diseases. Using sharp tools will save time and give precision, and you will not lose your energy unnecessarily. It is why they need to be sharpened regularly to maintain their level of performance. In other words, give them an optimal cutting edge.

A man cutting some tree branches using garden shears

What I’ll need to clean and sharpen my garden shears?

Maintaining your lopper is therefore not an option but an absolute necessity. It is essential to preserve the effectiveness of your tools and sustain their lifespan. Also, each material must be cleaned after each use to prevent the carrier of bacteria. It could happen if you use it on diseased plants, and the infection would eventually spread throughout the garden. To care for plants, you need to use healthy gardening equipment. It is why the maintenance of cutting gardening equipment requires systematic cleaning after each use.

Here are the different steps to maintain cutting tools:

Cleaning

Before disinfecting cutting tools such as the pruner or secateurs, you should clean the grime with soapy water (use black soap, but no detergents). After that, you need to check that there is no rust on the metal parts, especially the blade. If unfortunately, there are some, you can make the rust points disappear by scraping the affected parts with steel wool or abrasive paper.

Disinfection

Pass a blow of cloth soaked with alcohol on the side of the blade to remove the sap or resin before it hardens and also kill any bacteria. Don’t forget to protect your hands by wearing leather gardening gloves.

A dirty garden tool next to some soil

Sharpening

It’s hard to cut the tall grass that has invaded your garden with a failing sickle! It’s not easy to prune shrubs with a pruner that cuts badly! That’s why, after carefully cleaning your cutting tools, you shouldn’t forget to sharpen their parts with a sharpening stone (or a grinding wheel) before applying some alcohol with a soaked cloth. In some cases, it is recommended to disassemble the gardening tool to make the whole process easier.

A quality sharpener effectively sharpens different tools. A good sharpening has to be done regularly on both sides of the blade. Finally, if after excellent and loyal service, the blade has eventually worn out completely, replace it with an identical model that you will find in DIY stores. To do this, you remove the screw that keeps the blade and you change it with ease.

A step-by-step guide for sharpening your garden shears

Are you ready to take things to the next level and start taking care of your garden tools? It’s easier to do so if you have a tutorial to tell you how to do it, right? Well, we thought of everything and prepared a list for you!

For sharpening tools you need:

  • A cloth
  • Alcohol at 70 degrees
  • A sharpening stone
  • A wheel
  • A metal file
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses

garden shears next to some flower petals

Please don’t wait until the effectiveness of the cutting blades is too low to sharpen them. A cut that is not direct can damage the plant by leaving shreds of bark or tissue that is perfect for diseases or parasites. For pruning tools, preferably use a soft grinder so as not to remove too much metal. Then perfect the sharpening with a sharpening stone. Now, here are the steps for pruning shears:

Step 1: Test the pivot nut before sharpening

It may be loose, allowing the blades to separate when cutting, tearing the twig rather than cutting it cleanly. The nut should be tight, and the pivot should have no match. Check the tool after tightening the nut; if it cuts cleanly, it doesn’t need to be sharpened. Loosen the pivot nut and separate the edges if a knife is slightly bent. Place the blade in a vise, put on some heavy leather gloves, and tweak it until it’s perfectly straight.

Step 2: Expose clean metal by filing the edge

In a vice, tightly clamp the razor. Take a peek at the factory’s edge. Hold the file in both hands and imitate the bevel‘s trajectory. Shift the file away from you in one broad stroke along the entire cutting angle. To repeat, pull the file away from you in one direction. If you use short, jerky strokes, the factory edge will be lost. To file the entire edge evenly, change your bevel as needed. Repeat this process several times until the whole edge is exposed to pure metal. It usually just takes about ten strokes. Go on with the other blade in the same manner.

Step 3: Sand the blade’s backside

On a clean, flat piece of plywood, put a sheet of 300-grit wet/dry sandpaper. The filing motion can trigger burrs on the backside of each blade, which you can feel (be careful—they’re sharp). Lightly sand the back of the blade to get rid of them. Shift the blade in a circular motion while keeping it flat. Pick up the blade and softly feel the edge after making many loops.

Assemble the blades and gently oil the moving parts with 3-In-One oil until the burrs left by the file have vanished. Then, with the shears, make a test break. They should be able to cut better than ever before. 

A piece of sandpaper ready for usage

Step 4: Use hedge clippers

Use hedge clippers for cutting small diameters. Hedge shears, pruners, turf shears are somewhat similar; the two tapered sides of the blades come into contact at the base and cut up to the tip. These two opposite surfaces are finely lined in the factory to obtain the most efficient cutting edge. By sharpening these blades along the original angle, you can make them so sharp that they will even cut tissue paper. The key is to follow the initial curve accurately

Tools that are poorly sharpened because a person has tried to modify the cutting edge or used the wrong sharpener are no longer good for anything. Unless you’re a pro, don’t use electric grinding tools to sharpen your shears. Instead, get a 25 centimetres long file for better control

Before you start, colour the sharpening part with an indelible black felt and sharpen until you no longer see any trace of it felt on the pruning. Store your shovels, spades, forks head up so that moisture can be quickly drained. Consider lubricating your tools regularly. Some gardeners coat the handle with their paraffin tools: this makes them softer and therefore more comfortable.

A hedge clipper for gardening on a stone

How to maintain your gardening tools

You must know how to handle household equipment to avoid damage and breakage properly. It is essential to clear the inventory of dirt, dust, clay, and other debris after-work point. As far as storage is concerned, construction and garden equipment must be kept exclusively in a dry space to avoid rusting, like a garden shed, while smaller items can be kept in special toolboxes. To avoid grinding and chipping specific tools (hatches, knives, scissors, shovels, braids, etc.), you need to sharpen your inventory quickly.

When using tools in summer or dry weather, clean the dirt tool and store it in a place where there is no moisture access. However, it will be necessary for the fall and winter periods to prepare a more dedicated storage space where moisture and water are plentiful. 

Metal tools (especially those highly sensitive to corrosion) must be lubricated with motor oil or linseed oil. They are then covered with plastic wrap or a blanket to protect them from dust. Tools that have special blankets must pack. Using the old hose, you can avoid weakening the teeth of the saw and other sharp objects.

As for wooden sleeves and axes, they must also be properly cleaned, washed, and dried. Then you have to sand the surface with sandpaper and varnish it. It will make an aesthetic look to the inventory, extend its lifespan, and keep it efficient for a long time without use. When you store them in a storage area, you should place them only in an upright position, which will reduce the size of contact with the ground.

When cutting large branches becomes too difficult, the severed stems remain attached to the pruner, or the cuts lose sharpness, it means it’s time to sharpen your tool. Working with sharp tools requires less effort from the user, and plants heal faster. The best way to sharpen a tool is to use a diamond file, excellent emery paper, or a grindstone. For saws, you can use a third-point, triangular section file.

A garden shear next to some cut sunflowers

Gardening is an excellent way of spending quality time and feeling amazing with your results. And if you want to do so, then you need to have the right tools by your side. In the garden, all tools equipped with a blade, whether for the pruning of shrubs (pruner) or working the soil (shovel), must be regularly maintained to remain effective. Lucky for you, it’s not that hard after all!

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