How to sharpen pruning shears

Dull pruning shears can’t slice through branches and are likely to slip and become hazardous. Fortunately, it’s easy to learn how to sharpen pruning shears.

To sharpen pruning shears, start by cleaning the pruning shears. Particularly dull shears may need to be taken apart to clean inside hidden crevices. Then, use a carbide sharpening file at an angle, sliding the blade from the base joint to the tip of the blade. Remove any burrs from the back of the blade with the file. Then oil the blades, wiping off any excess oil with a rag.

Read on for all the details about how to sharpen pruning shears.

How to sharpen pruning shears

How to sharpen pruning shears

Give the pruning shears (and any other grubby garden tools) a quick rough cleaning before sharpening. Wipe off any visible plant debris or sap. If the pruning shears are very dirty or overly dull, consider taking them apart to get into the crevices and clean them out thoroughly.

Supplies for sharpening pruning shears

  • Pruning Shears
  • Steel Wool (or Lemon + Salt)
  • Rubbing Alcohol (or Hand Sanitizer)
  • Sharpening File
  • Sandpaper Block
  • 3-in-1 Oil (or Linseed Oil)
Supplies for sharpening pruning shears

Steps for sharpening pruning shears

  1. Clean off dirt with a brush and warm soapy water. Rinse.
  2. Clean off sap with cloth and rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. Rinse.
  3. Clean off the rust with lemon and salt, or with steel wool. Rinse.
  4. Position the file at an angle of the blade, and slide from joint to tip. Repeat, usually 10-20 times.
  5. Check the back of the blade for burrs. If any, remove with the file.
  6. Oil blades with 3-in-1 oil.

Tips for keeping pruning shears sharp

  • Clean, dry, and put away pruners daily
  • Keep a wire brush handy to knock off soil and rust
  • Sharpen the beveled edge monthly
  • Polish the metal parts with steel wool
  • Oil the metal parts to prevent rust
  • Store in a dry place

“Buy fewer tools. Buy the very best-quality ones you can afford. And look after them. That way, they will be a pleasure to use for years and years.”

Kitchen Garden: A Month-by-Month Guide to Growing Your Own Fruits and Vegetables, by Alan Buckingham
Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a passionate gardener and well-acclaimed authority in the world of horticulture. As a certified Master Gardener and Permaculture Garden Designer with over a decade of hands-on experience, she has honed her skills to cultivate a deeper understanding of the natural world around us. Beyond her gardening prowess, Mary Jane holds a distinct edge as a Professional Engineer, an expertise that often intertwines with her gardening methodologies, bringing a unique perspective to her readers.

She is the proud founder of the renowned gardening website, Home for the Harvest, a platform dedicated to helping fellow gardeners, both novice and experienced, find their green thumbs. Her gardening expertise hasn't gone unnoticed; she's been spotlighted as a go-to gardening expert by notable publications like Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, Real Simple, and the National Garden Bureau.

Delving deep into specific fields of study within horticulture, Mary Jane has an extensive knowledge base on sustainable gardening practices (including permaculture), soil science, and selecting cultivars well-suited to home gardeners. Her passion isn't just limited to plants; she's a staunch advocate for holistic, eco-friendly gardening techniques that benefit both flora and fauna.

Currently residing in the picturesque Okanagan Valley, Mary Jane cherishes the time she spends with her family amidst nature, always exploring, learning, and growing both as a gardener and as an individual.

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