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How to: sharpen the pruners

Photo - Falcon Eyes/

A good crisp cut is one of the joys of pruning. Blunt tools not only deprive you of this simple pleasure but do a poor job and damage your plants. 

With pruning season upon us it’s time to make your pruners the sharpest tools in the shed. Follow our guide, always wear protective gloves when handling sharp tools, and if your edge continues to disappoint, remember that the blades on some secateurs, such as those made by Felco, are replaceable.

Separate the two halves of the pruning tool by undoing the pivot nut. (This is the central nut that joins the two halves.) Remove any sap and ingrained dirt with a scrubbing brush and soapy water. Spray stubborn grime with oven cleaner, leave for an hour or so, then wipe off. Dry thoroughly with a cloth.


File sharpened

Secure one half of the pruners at a time to a vice. Use a fine-mill file held in both hands. Start at the tip, and carefully follow the factory bevel. This angle has been chosen to give the best result. Creating a new angle will lead to a less effective tool.

Perform one full stroke at a time, away from your body, using light pressure. Repeat this action until an even, sharp edge appears. Turn the blade over and remove any burrs with a few light strokes. Keep the reverse side of the blade flat. You should only have a ‘bevelled edge’ on one side.


Stone sharpened

Secure the sharpening stone to the bench. Run the blade repeatedly over the stone, keeping the same angle each time and following the factory bevel. Turn the blade over and remove burrs. Always follow the factory-bevelled edge. Repeat the action using a polishing stone to give a fine sharpness to the blade for clean, damage-free pruning.

Sharpen both blades, then wipe them down and spray with a lubricating oil. (This should be done after every use.) Put the blades back together and secure tightly. A loose pivot nut will cause blades to drift apart, preventing a clean cut.


Text: Shane Neill


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Author: Shane Neill