How to sharpen pruning shears in 7 simple steps
Pruning shears are an ideal tool for every keen gardener. Whether you use a pair of side pruners to cut back live growth or anvil pruners to break up dead wood, these tools can be used all around the yard this time of year.
The problem, even with a pair of The best pruning shears, regular use will inevitably lead to weakening of the blade. Ultimately, shears won’t cut cleanly, which will slow down the pruning process and take your plants longer to heal from them.
An unclean wound also encourages disease, so you really want to avoid it.
What will you need
Diamond tool, whetstone or metal file
screwdriver or wrench
But, before you run out to buy a new set of pruning shears, you should know that this problem can be fixed quickly. With the right tools and method, you can sharpen your own blade and have your pruning shears looking like new again.
We’ve put together step-by-step instructions on how to sharpen pruning shears, looking at when to do it as well as how often. We’ll also cover our best care tips, so you can make sure your pruners are in top condition for pruning this spring.
How to sharpen pruning shears
Before we begin, we must state that if you are uncomfortable or do not feel confident trying to sharpen the blade of your pruning shears yourself, do not attempt it. You can pay to have it professionally done at your local gardening center.
If you do set out to sharpen the blade yourself, do so with care and patience, and be sure to wear all necessary safety equipment. The blades of the pruning shear are very sharp, and it is very easy to cut yourself in an accident.
1. Know when to do it
First, you need to Know when this task is necessary. You can tell when the pruning shears blade is dull because the cut will be harder and require more pressure and time. In the case of bypass shears, the cut itself will also not be clean, which can tear the foliage and leave it more susceptible to disease. Anvil pruners will pulverize wood by design, but a dull blade will make the job more difficult
2. Gather your materials
to sharpen pruning shears, You will need a diamond tool, a whetstone or a metal file. This uses almost the same method for sharpening the blade, but uses portable tools such as the Sharpal All-in-1 Knife Garden Tool ($19.99, Amazon (Opens in a new tab)) is also common.
You will also need enough safety equipmentsincluding gloves and goggles. a screwdriver or wrench that fit the screw or bolt that holds the pruning shears together will also be necessary, as will tools for cleaning the blades, including WD-40, a small brush and a microfiber cloth.
You’ll need to unplug your pruning shears during this process as well, so it’s a good idea to find a quiet spot with enough light. Roll out the dishtowel as well so you don’t lose any of its parts as you work.
Now that you’ve established that your pruning shears need sharpening, it’s time to take them apart. Some may skip this step and go straight to sharpening the blades, but if possible, we recommend keeping the trimmers apart. Better to do this – it will provide a more thorough cleaning, which is essential as you will see, and it will give you better control while sharpening too. In addition, when you do this, you can check the quality of each part and replace it as necessary.
Before disassembling it, it is a good idea to do so Consider the location of each of the parts In place to reassemble later – take a picture if needed. Modern pruning shears usually have one main screw or nail that holds each side together. While wearing your safety equipment, Use a screwdriver or wrench to carefully pry this off Until the pruning shears split in half. Organize all the parts, so nothing gets lost, including the spring coil that might fall out.
If you cannot loosen the pruning shears, you can still proceed to the next steps.
4. Clean the parts
Before sharpening your pruning shears, you’ll need to clean them. This is necessary because sap and dirt will impair the process. By removing this, you also get a better view of the blade’s condition.
Spray the blades with WD-40 Leave to soak to help remove stubborn dirt. then Scrub with a brush or use a microfiber cloth to clean up. The sandpaper can also help remove sticky sap while the steel wool will take care of any rust. This other method can work too – whatever works for you. track this, Use warm, soapy water to wash the parts, then rinse and dry them carefully. The code must be clean before proceeding to the next step.
5. Sharpen the blade
Now comes the main event – sharpening the blade. Again, make sure you are Wear your safety clothing before you try it. Depending on the type of pruning shears you’re sharpening, the method required will vary. Bypass pruning shears work like scissors and have one side angled to the blunt blade, while the dominant blade on anvil pruning shears is angled on both sides. The beveled side is what you need to sharpen, so anvil shears technically require you to sharpen both sides.
You need to hold the handle part of the pruning shears Take the sharpening tool and drag it toward the beveled sideworking from the thickest part of the blade to its point, Maintain the same angle given on the blade. Keep pressure on the tip and push it away from you as you work, in one direction. You will notice that you need to curve the tool as you sharpen it to match the angle. If you are using a file with a coarse and fine edge, start with the coarse side and once you are satisfied with that, switch to the smooth mode for touch-ups.
The bevel will sparkle as you work to show your progress. There are no exact guidelines for how long this takes – the duller the blade, the longer it takes to sharpen. Keep checking its status every few swipes, Using a microfiber cloth to remove any shavings. You can test the sharpness of your bypass pruning shears by trying to cut a piece of paper, like scissors. If it’s hacked, you’re done.
Pruning shears that cannot be disassembled can be sharpened in the same way, but you should take extra care during your movements to ensure that the shears are firmly in place and pointed away from you while sharpening.
If you’re honing in on a side design, keep this in mind Check the flat side of the blade Also before you finish – if there is a burr, you will need to remove it with your sharpening tool by running it flat against the blade. Make sure not to sharpen while doing this, or it will dull the scissors’ ability. Don’t forget to sharpen both sides if you’re dealing with anvil pruning shears, too.
Give your blade a quick polish with a microfiber cloth before you start assembling. then Put all parts back together, referring to photos you took earlier if necessary. Test the blades to make sure they are working properly. If it feels stiff, you may need to put some oil on the spring or bolts. Now is your chance to tighten or loosen the blades, depending on how they sit. Make sure the bypass blades pass closely together, while the anvil blades should touch.
7. Final touches
Make sure your pruning shears are clean beforehand Store in a dry and protected place. They should be Keep the safety lock out of the reach of children. Wiping the shears with some mineral oil can also help extend their life.
How often should you sharpen pruning shears?
You should sharpen your pruning shears as often as necessary. As a general rule, once a year tends to be sufficient. But with regular use, it may be needed more often.
The key thing here is not to ignore a dull blade—it can lead to uneven cuts, damaging your leaves more than necessary, leaving them taking longer to heal and encouraging disease in the process. Dull blades can make pruning shears awkward and unsafe to handle, so this chore will need to be addressed one way or another.
Pruning shears maintenance tips
- Remember to sterilize the pruning shears between each cut to avoid spreading disease. Rubbing the blades with a cloth dampened in denatured alcohol will prevent this. It seems excessive, but pruning can quickly spread disease among plants if you’re not careful.
- Don’t cut anything your pruning shears can’t handle. The manual or packaging should state the larger size of the branch the blades are prepared to handle. Do not attempt to cut anything larger than this or you may damage the tool.
- Tighten the blades when needed. The blades of pruning shears will naturally loosen with regular use and form a gap, so be prepared to tighten the hinge screw when necessary.
- Replace the shears as necessary. If the blade is beyond repair, it’s time to invest in a new pair of pruning shears. Check out our list of The best pruning shears for guidance.