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How to Sharpen Garden Shears | Revitalize Your Garden Shears

By Leonard Evans
I am a senior editor at Bebest, where I can share valuable content about convenience in life based on issues related to household devices.

A well-maintained pair of garden shears is a crucial tool for any avid gardener, ensuring clean and precise cuts that promote the health of plants and shrubs. However, even the sturdiest of shears can lose their edge and effectiveness over time. This is where knowing how to sharpen garden shears becomes an invaluable skill. Sharpening your garden shears not only extends their lifespan but also enhances their performance, making your gardening tasks more efficient and enjoyable. In this guide, we will delve into the step-by-step process of sharpening your garden shears, equipping you with the knowledge and techniques needed to sharpen your dull scissors.

How to Sharpen Garden Shears: Step-by-Step Guide 

Necessary Tools for Sharpening Garden Shears
Necessary Tools for Sharpening Garden Shears

Should you choose to proceed with the blade sharpening on your own, exercise carefulness and patience and ensure you have all the required safety gear in place. The blades of pruning shears are exceptionally sharp, and the risk of accidental cuts is substantial.

Step 1: Know when to do it

The first step is to determine the appropriate timing for this task is of utmost importance. You can identify the need for sharpening your pruning shears by observing increased resistance and the need for additional pressure and time while making cuts. When using bypass pruners, a dulled blade can result in less precise cuts, potentially damaging foliage and making it more susceptible to disease. In the case of anvil pruners, although they are designed to crush wood, a blunt blade can complicate the task.

Step 2: Gather your materials

For the sharpening of your pruning shears, several tools can be utilized: a diamond tool, a whetstone, or a metal file. These tools follow a similar methodology in blade sharpening.

In addition, ensure you have the appropriate safety equipment, which includes protective gloves and goggles. Having a screwdriver or wrench that matches the screw or bolt holding your pruning shears together is essential. Likewise, tools for cleaning the blades, such as WD-40, a small brush, and a microfiber cloth, will be required.

During this process, disassembling your pruning shears is necessary. Thus, it’s advisable to locate a quiet, well-lit workspace. To prevent the loss of any components during the process, placing a dish towel down is a practical measure.

Step 3: Disassemble

With the recognition that your pruning shears require sharpening, the next phase involves their disassembly. While some may choose to skip this stage and proceed directly to blade sharpening, if feasible, we strongly recommend the disassembly of your pruners. This approach offers several advantages: a more comprehensive cleaning, as you will soon understand, enhanced control during the sharpening process, and the opportunity to assess the condition of each component, allowing for replacements as needed.

Before initiating the disassembly, it’s prudent to carefully note the arrangement of each part for ease of reassembly later. Modern pruning shears typically feature a primary screw or bolt that secures both sides together. While donning your safety gear, utilize a screwdriver or wrench to cautiously loosen this fastener until the pruning shears separate into two halves. Methodically arrange all components to prevent any loss, including the spring coil which might disengage.

Should disassembly be unfeasible, progression to the subsequent steps is still viable.


Step 4: Clean the parts

Before proceeding with the sharpening of your pruning shears, it’s essential to give them a thorough cleaning. This step is crucial to ensure that any sap and dirt accumulation does not hinder the sharpening process. Moreover, by eliminating these elements, you gain a clearer insight into the blade’s condition.

Begin by applying a spritz of WD-40 onto the blades and allow it to soak, which aids in loosening stubborn dirt. Subsequently, employ either a brush or a microfiber cloth to scrub and cleanse the blades. If there is sticky sap, sandpaper proves effective for its removal, while any rust can be addressed with steel wool. The sequence of these approaches can be interchanged based on your preference and convenience.

Once these cleaning steps are completed, employ warm, soapy water to thoroughly wash all the components. Follow this by rinsing and meticulously drying each part. It’s imperative that your blade attains a state of spotless cleanliness before you progress to the subsequent step in the process.

Clean the parts
Clean the parts

Step 5: Sharpen the blade

Ensure you are adequately equipped with your safety gear before embarking on this endeavor. The sharpening method required varies based on the type of pruning shears being addressed. Bypass pruning shears, resembling scissors, possess a single angled side on the sharp blade. In contrast, anvil pruning shears primarily feature a double-sided angled blade. Anvil shears will need to be sharpened on both sides because the angled side needs to be done first.

With the handle portion of your pruning shears in hand, approach the sharpening process with your chosen tool. Gently draw the tool along the beveled side, commencing from the blade’s thickest section and progressing toward its tip. Throughout this action, maintain the same angle as that present on the blade.

Employ consistent pressure along the edge and push the tool away from you, ensuring unidirectional movement. It will become apparent that curving the tool is necessary to match the blade’s angle while sharpening. When employing a file equipped with coarse and fine edges, begin with the coarse side. Once you are satisfied, transition to the fine side for refining touches.

 Approach the sharpening process
Approach the sharpening process

During the process, the bevel will gradually shine. The more time it will demand for sharpening. Periodically assess its state every few passes, utilizing a microfiber cloth to eliminate any residue. For testing the sharpness of bypass pruning shears, try cutting a piece of paper in a manner akin to using scissors. If it slices through effortlessly, the task is complete.

For pruning shears that cannot be disassembled, the sharpening process remains the same. However, you must exercise additional caution to ensure the shears are securely held in position and pointed away from you while sharpening.

In the case of a bypass design, it’s essential to inspect the flat side of the blade before concluding. Should a burr be present, utilize your sharpening tool to eliminate it by moving it flat against the blade. Be cautious not to engage in sharpening during this step, as it could negatively impact the cutting efficiency of your pruner. Equally significant is the need to sharpen both sides when dealing with anvil pruning shears.

Sharpen the blade
Sharpen the blade

Step 6: Reassemble

Before commencing the reassembly process, take a moment to swiftly polish your blade using a microfiber cloth. Following this, proceed to reassemble all components, utilizing the reference images you captured earlier if necessary. Test the functionality of the blades to ensure their proper operation.

If you detect stiffness, consider applying some oil to the spring or bolts. At this juncture, you also have the opportunity to adjust the blades’ tension, either tightening or loosening them as required. Ensure that bypass blades exhibit a close passing alignment, while anvil blades should make solid contact.  


Step 7: Finishing touches

Make sure that your pruning shears are thoroughly clean prior to storing them in a secure and dry location. Remember to engage the safety lock and store them out of the reach of children. Additionally, wiping down your shears with mineral oil can contribute to prolonging their lifespan.

Testing the Sharpness

Testing the sharpness of a tool stands as a crucial step in its maintenance. In the case of pruning shears, this evaluation plays a pivotal role in ensuring their optimal functionality. A simple paper-cutting test is often effective: if the shears effortlessly slice through paper, their sharpness is satisfactory.

Alternatively, trying a gentle branch snip can provide insight into their effectiveness on actual vegetation. Regular testing not only guarantees efficient cutting but also enhances safety, preventing the need for excessive force. It’s a quick yet indispensable practice that safeguards both the tool’s longevity and the user’s ease of operation.

How often Should You Sharpen Garden Shears?

The general rule of thumb is to sharpen your garden shears at least once or twice a year. However, this guideline can vary based on how frequently you use the shears and the type of plants you’re working with. If you’re an avid gardener who uses the shears frequently, especially during the growing season, you might need to sharpen them more often – perhaps every three to four months.

How often Should You Sharpen Garden Shears
How often Should You Sharpen Garden Shears

Wrapping up How to Sharpen Garden Shears

In the grand tapestry of cultivating green spaces, mastering the art of “How to Sharpen Garden Shears” is like adding a vibrant stroke of genius. As we bring our honing journey to a close, it’s evident that more than blades have been refined. Each sharpening session becomes a rendezvous with the essence of growth itself – a dance of renewal, a commitment to the thriving symphony of the garden. So, as you hang those sharpened shears, remember you’re not just preserving a tool; you’re nurturing a flourishing story, one snip at a time. Your garden hears the whispers of your expertise, and it responds in vibrant blooms.

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