Unlike garden shears, which are similar in design to scissors, pruners are designed to be used with both hands, allowing the user to exert greater force to cut large branches. When new, most garden pruners are razor sharp and pruning requires minimal effort. However, with repeated use, even the best garden loppers can tarnish or develop nicks by cutting branches that are too hard. They can also become clogged with tree sap, which can reduce their cutting efficiency.
Be sure to buy a new pair of pruners for pruning shrubs and trees just because the blades are getting dull. Instead, check out the following guide that will walk you through how to sharpen loppers and get years of extra use from the same pair.
The following materials and tools are suitable for sharpening garden shears and secateurs, as well as garden loppers.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Sharpening the delimbing shears is not difficult, but it can be slightly messy due to the lubricant required to clean the blades. Rather than sharpening a single set of pruning shears and calling it a day, collect your entire collection of pruning shears and pruning shears and sharpen them all at once. This can be done at any time during the gardening season, but it is imperative to clean and sharpen the blades before storing garden tools during the winter to help prevent rust and corrosion from developing.
Related: How To: Sharpen Scissors
STEP 1: Clean sap from trees and plants from the blades.
An essential first step in learning how to sharpen garden tools is knowing how to clean off plant fluids without damaging the steel in the cutting blades. Washing the blades with soap and water is not the best solution in this case, as moisture can cause some types of steel to rust. The best way to clean the blades when sharpening shears, pruners, or loppers is to spray them with a little lubricant, like WD-40, which quickly dissolves grime. Then use 0000 steel wool to remove residue.
STEP 2: Sharpen with the angle of the bevel.
Loppers and secateurs feature a sharp blade edge that appears like a sloping bevel when inspected closely. On a delimber or bypass pruner designed to cut soft green branches, like those found on roses, only the outside of the top blade will be sharp. Use a whetstone or carbide blade sharpener to resharpen the blade. Pass the sharpener over the bevel at the same angle as the original tilt. This will ensure that the newly sharpened blade will cut smoothly when pruning branches.
STEP 3: Travel from pivot to tip of blade.
The biggest mistake beginners make when learning to sharpen garden shears, pruners, and pruners is to stroke the blades with the sharpener in a back-and-forth motion. This can create nicks and result in a rough edge. The best method is to stroke the pivot blade (where the blades meet) at the tip in one fluid motion. After a few strokes, check (carefully) that the blade is sharp. Depending on how blunt the blade is initially, it may take 5 to 20 strokes to restore a sharp edge.
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STEP 4: Sharpen both sides of an anvil cutting blade.
Unlike branch cutters which are sharp on only one side of the top blade, anvil wire cutters have a sharp blade on both sides. Anvil loppers are designed to cut through hard, dead wood, and the double-sided blade is used to crush the branch rather than slicing it. When sharpening an anvil delimber, use the same pivot-to-tip motions, but do them on both sides of the blade, at the same angle as the original bevel.
STEP 5: Finish in lubricant for protection.
All types of pruning shears and garden shears will benefit from spraying a tiny bit of lubricant on the blade and pivot area to help repel moisture and corrosion before putting them away. Use a soft cloth to spread the lubricant evenly, then wipe off the excess. This quick and easy step will help protect the newly sharpened blade and keep the tool moving freely.
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