How to Sharpen Your Pruners, Loppers, and Shears

Cutting tools tend to get a lot of use in the active yard and garden, so it’s a good idea to sharpen them up occasionally to make your life a little easier. In most situations, the more neatly you can snip off a stem or branch, the better.

Most pruners, loppers, and shears can by sharpened within ten minutes with moderate ease, even if it’s been a year or two since you bothered. (Needless to say, we recommend that you sharpen them more often than that). Your first step is to gather your tools: the dull cutters themselves, a small bucket of water, a file or this handy sharpening tool, a wire brush, some bleach, a few paper towels, and a can of oil. We recommend Enviro-5, which is 100% natural and completely biodegradable.

Next, clean the working edges of your tools, using water and the wire brush. Soap is unnecessary. Scrub the metal vigorously, and don’t worry about hurting the edge; the brush shouldn’t do any damage. When the metal is as clean as you can get it, start sharpening one side of the working edge. If you use a standard file, you’ll need to place the rough edge on the existing bevel, so that it’s sitting level with it, and work your way down the edge with short, firm strokes. Sharpen the entire edge, from the joint to the tip, and be very careful not to cut yourself!

Once you’ve sharpened the edge to your satisfaction, turn the tool over and use the file to remove any burs or overhangs from that edge. This won’t be an issue if you use our specialized sharpening tool, and you’re much less likely to cut yourself, too.

You might as well disinfect your tools once you’re done sharpening them. Toss the dirty water, refill your bucket, and add some bleach at a ratio of one part bleach to ten parts water. Soak each tool in this mild disinfectant for a few seconds, then put it aside and allow it to dry. Once your cutting tools are thoroughly dry, apply a liberal coating of oil to each tool to both prevent rust build-up and to lubricate the joints. Wipe away the excess with a paper towel, and you’re done!

If you’d like to maximize the time between sharpening, we recommend this pruner/lopper tool set and these hedge shears. The working edges of these tools are treated with highly durable titanium nitride, which helps them cut more effectively and keep an edge longer. They’ll still need sharpening occasionally, though!