Pruning shears are a special pair of scissors that are used to cut plants, making it a must-have tool for every gardener. They are designed to be durable enough to cut stems and branches that are up to two centimeters thick. Then again, there are times that they also become dull. Hence, many wonder how to sharpen pruning shears.
Sharpening pruning shears is an important practice that all green thumbs must learn and for good reasons. First of all, dull shears do not cut sharply, making your job harder than it should be. On the other hand, sharp shears produce clean cuts that are easy to heal. As a result, your plant stays healthy, which is actually the whole point of pruning.
With that said, learning how to sharpen them should be at the top of your gardening priority list. Lucky for you, you have us. Here, we are going to share with you how you can do it in the easiest and most effective way.
How to Sharpen Pruning Shears
Sharpening pruning shears is a proper process that requires attention but nothing too difficult. To make sure you have a pair of nice and sharp pruning shears, follow the following steps:
Step 1 – Clean the Blades
The first thing to do is to clean the blades, which actually goes for virtually all pruning tools. Use a hard brush and some soap or detergent to remove dirt or rust. Additionally, dip the blades in kerosene, which helps remove sap. Alternatively, you can use oil too if you have been using them with evergreens because the residue needs to be cleaned properly.
Once cleaned, dry the blades and put a coating of any motor oil you may have in your home. You might want to take the blades apart, especially in the case of pruning shears.
Step 2 – Know the Sharpening Angle Requirement of the Blade
Go ahead and determine the sharpening angle of the blade. This is usually around 10 to 15 degrees. In this step, it would be best to look for instructions from the manufacturer. You can look for these in the manual (if one came with it) or the packet. Otherwise, you can search for it online.
Step 3 – Choose a Sharpening Tool
Choose the sharpening tool you wish to use. This is more like a preference, but most people use whetstones. There are, however, other choices too. A diamond file works with water and is long-lasting. Grinding stones is another tool for this purpose, but they create a lot of frictional heat, which can have a negative effect on the blades. Whetstones come in a lot of gradations and work with almost any kind of blade.
Step 4 – Start Grinding!
Now start grinding the blades. First, use a medium grain whetstone, but you need to soak it in water first. Oil is even better in comparison to water because oil will not evaporate as quickly as water. Do not think this is a lubricant. The purpose behind this is basically carrying away the grit when you are sharpening the blades.
You should be pressing the blade along with the concave side of the stone. Also, make sure that you are moving it only in one direction like you are peeling or shaving the stone. Be gentle when doing this. After about 10 strokes on the outer bevel, make one stroke in the inner angle.
You might need to wet the stone again especially if you used water. If there is a nick in the blade, you can use a file to remove it. Use a rough stone if there are more than two nicks.
Step 5 – Keep It Nice and Smooth
Once you see that the angle is what it is supposed to be and the blade looks sharp, start smoothing out the edge. Use a finer grain whetstone for this purpose. Continue using it until you get a sharp edge. The beveled edge should be over one-millimeter thick. You are not supposed to make the edge too fine; otherwise, it will become very fragile.
Step 6 – Check Your Work
It is time to test if it has been sharpened enough. One quick way to do that without needing to use it on a plant is by holding the edge towards a light. If the light reflects from the edge, you are not done yet.
You can continue sharpening with a whetstone until it passes the preliminary test. Finally, you can test it on a branch. Get the maximum thickness branch that the pruning shears are designed for. If they are cutting in a clean fashion without any resistance, your blades are as sharp as they first arrived.
If the cut is not clean and the blade pulls, you need to keep sharpening. You might want to use an extra finer stone too. Remember to test after a few strokes as you do not want to overdo it.
Step 7 – Finish It Off with Oil
Once sharpened, add a layer of oil to finish it off. Be careful when you are rubbing the oil as they are pretty sharp at this point. Make sure to remove all the dirt and debris created because of the rubbing. If you do not clean it, it will be stuck and result in rusting.
Your pruning shears are ready to prune some plants. Remember that not all pruning tools’ blades are sharpened this way. In some case, you may have to sharpen both sides of the blades (anvil pruners and clippers).
Never regrind blades as it can change the cutting angle or worse ruin the tool altogether. Also, it creates a convex cutting edge that only makes it difficult to cut branches. It is also recommended to keep your eyes on the tension screw that are present between the blades while you are sharpening them. Adjust them accordingly and as necessary to make the shears more efficient.
There are only so many times you can sharpen your blades. Over time and after sharpening them a few times, you will notice the blade edges rounding and the blade sort of crushes the branch. This is an indicator that it is time to replace your pruning shears.
Like mentioned earlier, if you know how to sharpen pruning shears, you can ensure that your plants stay healthy. Also, it will be much easier to work with a sharp one instead of the pruning shears that have worn out blades.
Pruning can have a lasting effect on your plants and make your garden into the perfect garden everyone wants. Plus, you get your money’s worth by sharpening your pruning shears and using them up for years to come.