Monday, December 15, 2014

How to Sharpen Hand Pruners



Your pruning tools should be clean and sharp at all times. Sharp tools will make your pruning job easier and protect your tree from disease. Broken branches or branches that have been damaged by dull pruning shears are more susceptible to pests and disease.

Most gardeners discard pruning shears when they stop cutting well, but a quality pair of shears, if cared for properly, should last you several years.

How to Sharpen Hand Pruners
In this blog post I will show you how to properly sharpen pruning shears, but first let me ask this question. When will you know that your pruning shears need sharpened? The answer can be found by following this link:


I like to take advantage of the slow winter months and sharpen my shears before the busy spring season, but sharpening should occur on a regular basis as it is needed. Below you will see an image of extremely dull shears. These are a pair I used to cut roots out of irrigation trenches, so you can see how the dirt and rocks in the ground have made nicks in the blade. Don’t worry these shears are not too far gone.

Dull, Chipped Pruning Shear Blade
The first step to sharpening your shears is to take a file and file out all of the nicks in the blade to reestablish a good cutting edge. You can see at the bottom of the image above, to the left, a faint line where the former “factory edge” was located. Try to make you new edge as close as possible to the factory edge.

File Blade to Reestablish New Cutting Edge
You probably noticed that only one side of the pruning shears has an established edge. The other side should remain flat so that it can rub tight against the lower jaws of the shears. The problem with establishing one edge with the file is that a heavy bur will occur on the flat side of the blade. This bur will make your newly sharpened blade feel not so sharp, so it is important that you remove this bur.

Heavy Bur on Flat Side of Blade
Removing the bur is not difficult, simply run the file over the flat side of the blade and remove the bur. If you find the bur just bends over the sharp edge you may need to alternate back and forth lightly with the file until the bur has been completely removed.

Alternate File Lightly on Either side of Blade Until Bur is Removed
That’s it! Regular pruning will ensure that your trees are healthy and productive and regular sharpening of your shears will ensure that your pruners remain in good working order for years to come.
Final Edge of Pruning Shear Blade
The final step to hand pruner maintenance is a quick shot of lubricant at the pivot point and you will be ready to go for yet another season.

If you have any questions about fruit tree pruning or fruit tree pruning tools, please email me at russ@simplytreesut.com or comment below.