Sunday, 28 October 2007

How To Sharpen Garden Tools: A Few Simple Tips

by Eudora DeWynter

If you are an avid gardener, then you know that there is nothing worse than having garden tools that are dull, duller and dullest!

Struggling with each push or pull on the handle can be extremely difficult not to mention a strain on the back, arm, and shoulder muscles.

But did you know that your garden tools can be sharpened at home with a few simple tools? Learning how to keep that manufacturer's sharp blade on your grass clippers, pruning and hedge shears will enable them to continue cutting effortlessly.

Grass Clippers, Pruning Shears and Hedge Shears all function pretty much the in the same manner. The two sharp cutting surfaces of the blade come into contact at the base and literally cut all the way to the tips enabling them to shear grass and stem twigs from the stem of the plants with a scissor action.

When they need re-sharpening always sharpen along the original bevel and unless you are a pro never use a power grinding tool for sharpening. Too many tools to count have been ruined and become worthless because they were improperly sharpened from using the wrong tool or trying to create a better edge.

Before you begin sharpening, buy yourself a new mill file. For best control get one that is 10 inches long (it will work best) for your hedge and prune shears and grass clipper too.
To avoid getting confused read the packaging first, as it will tell you the best file to use for your garden tools. and believe it or not, ordinary scissor sharpeners will do a fine job on grass clippers.

When sharpening use long broad file strokes for your hedge shears, they sometimes take the most abuse. They were designed for cutting green wood with a thickness of no more than 3/8 inches thick and have at times been mistakenly used as pruning shears.

Cutting thick branches or dried wood can bend the blades and stress the pivot nuts on hedge shears when they are improperly used. Before sharpening check the pivot nut, if it isn't secure, tighten it, and if it cuts clean, the tool doesn't need sharpening.

Always make sure the blade isn't bent and if it is, place it in a vise and tweak it until it is straight. To file, place the blade flat on a piece of plywood and using 300 wet/dry sandpaper keep the blade flat and file in a circular motion with sand paper being careful to check for burrs. When burrs are smoothed out, lightly oil with 3 in 1 oil.

Always file in one direction away from you. Adjust your angle as needed to file the entire edge evenly; usually 10 strokes will expose clean metal over the entire edge. Then do the same with the other blade, and never use small jerky strokes, because it will cause you to loose the factory edge.

Pruning shears are probably the hardest of garden tools to sharpen, and they can test your own motor skills. One side has a heavy blunt blade and needs a sharp crisp 90 degree edge. They should also be filed using both hands, and starting at the point follow the curve of the factory bevel.

To sharpen pruning shears, place the blade firmly in a vise and holding the file with both hands move the file in one broad stroke away from you going along the entire cutting edge. Remember to always file in one direction, and after each stroke examine the edge and when exposed steel starts to show, be certain to check and feel for burrs, then sand in the same manner you would with hedge shears.

Soil is another culprit that can be blamed for dull gardening tools. It can easily get between the blades of garden clippers and grind to with each squeeze of the handle, as will moisture from grass will also cause corrosion quickly.

Since this is a garden tool that is used close to the ground for clipping, always wipe your garden clippers clean and dry, and then lightly oil the moving parts after each use. This particular garden tool will sharpen easily with ordinary scissor sharpeners.

Well, there you have it-a brief, but most certainly effective overview of how to sharpen your garden tools and keep them in proper working order.

About the Author
Eudora DeWynter currently writes about How To Sharpen Garden Tools and also gives basic gardening advice on her blog at