How to Sharpen Your Garden Shears - Backyard Boss
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How to Sharpen Your Garden Shears

Garden shears are a necessity for every gardener. They make the pruning process a breeze, which keeps your plants happy and healthy and helps them produce higher-quality fruits. But, how should you sharpen your garden shears to ensure the job gets done right? And on a related topic, how should you clean them?

Below, you’ll discover all the best tips and tricks to keep in mind, as well as a step-by-step guide on how to sharpen your shears. By the end, you’ll be well equipped with all the knowledge you need to properly care for this garden tool.

Tools You’ll Need

garden gloves
Image credits: cocoparisienne via Pixabay

Personal protective equipment is just as important as the tools you’ll need to get the job done. Find all the essentials for cleaning garden shears below.

  • Protective gloves
  • Protective goggles
  • Soapy water
  • A small stiff brush or scrubby sponge
  • Steel wool
  • Medium or coarse diamond hand file
  • General purpose oil
  • Clean rag
  • Rust remover (such as WD-40)
  • Fine grit sandpaper

Why and When to Sharpen Your Garden Shears

Pruner or garden shears for cutting branches
Image credits: ElenaPl via Shutterstock

A sharper blade will make the pruning process easier, but it will also ensure your shears last longer. A build-up of rust and debris can make them difficult to use, and cause them to break down over time. The pruning cuts you make will heal better when you use sharp shears, leaving your plants less susceptible to disease and infection.

You don’t have to sharpen your shears every time you use them, but how often you sharpen them will depend on how much you use them. If you notice the shears aren’t cutting as cleanly, it may be time to sharpen. On the other hand, cleaning is regularly  necessary to avoid spreading disease.

A good rule of thumb is to sharpen your shears at the beginning and end of the pruning season, as well as at least once during.

How to Sharpen Your Garden Shears

Step 1: Apply PPE

worker with pneumatic shears pruning cherry
Image credits: vallefrias via Shutterstock

The first step to sharpening your garden shears is donning the proper personal protective equipment or PPE. Protective, heavy-duty gardening gloves will keep your hands safe while you work on the shears. Protective eyewear or safety glasses are also essential for saving your eyes from any shards of metal that could fall off while you sharpen the shears.

Step 2: Disassemble the Shears

Disassembled garden secateurs prepared for sharpening
Image credits: Yuliia Gornostaieva via Shutterstock

Now that you’ve got your hands and eyes protected, you can disassemble the shears (if possible). This will make it much easier to clean every inch and sharpen the blade. Pruning shears are usually attached by a nut or screw in the center of each blade – carefully remove it to see all the parts of the shear seperately.

Remember to keep all the pieces in order so you can put the shears back together. If any pieces are badly corroded, you may need to replace them.

Step 3: Clean the Shears

Gardeners are washing scissors for cutting grass in the water jar until the water ripples .., with the reflection of the sun on the water surface.
Image credits: Duangjit Niljinda via Shutterstock

With the shears disassembled, it’s time to clean! Using soapy water and a small stiff brush or scrubby sponge, wash away dirt, debris, and residue. Then, use a clean dry rag to dry off the shears. Follow up with a piece of steel wool to remove any rust from the blades.

You can also use a rust remover such as WD-40 if there is an excessive amount of rust. Finish the cleaning process by wiping the blades clean and dry. You’re halfway done!

Step 4: Sharpen the Blade

Person sharpening pruner outdoors, closeup. Gardening tools
Image credits: New Africa via Shutterstock

Finally, the blades are ready for sharpening. Begin by drawing the diamond file along the beveled edge of the blade. Apply even pressure from the base to the tip of the blade, being sure to file in one direction. The bevel will become shiner as it sharpens.

Once you’ve decided that the pruners are sharp enough, use a fine piece of sandpaper to remove any burrs. Then, you can reassemble the blade. To determine if the blades are sharp, test the shears on a piece of paper. If they make a clean cut, they’re good to go!

Tips to Keep Shears Clean and Sharp Longer

Old and rusty pruning or garden shears that used for gardening with textured background - Flat lay view
Image credits: SR Pixel via Shutterstock

Now that you’ve freshly cleaned and sharpened your shears, there are a few tips to remember to keep them that way for longer. Proper care helps you make the most out of your garden shears.

  • Keep the shears clean and remove any dirt and debris immediately after use.
  • Apply a general-purpose oil to the blades as a lubricant before putting the shears away. Wipe away any excess oil with a clean rag. This will prevent the shears from rusting.
  • Store the pruning shears in a cool, dry place, such as a gardening shed.

Shear Perfection!

Caring for your garden tools is all a part of garden care. Fortunately, sharpening your garden shears is incredibly simple and requires few tools and little time. Plus, it will make pruning and caring for your plants a breeze!

If your shears have passed their “best-by-date,” you may need to replace them. Remember that new shears aren’t always sharpened and you may need to follow these steps to make them garden-ready.

Do you have any tips or tricks for sharpening your garden shears? Share in the comments below!

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