Sharpening Your Garden Tools Made Easy

Would you ever prune with your hands tied together or dig balancing on one leg? Unless you consider yourself some kind of gardening dare devil, these stunts might seem silly to you.

Well, my dear gardener, let me ask you this, how often do you clean and sharpen your garden tools? Before or after each use? Once a week? Once a month? Once a year? Never? If you aren’t cleaning and sharpening your garden tools at least after every few uses, you are more of a gardening dare devil than you may think.

All garden tools wear down during use and require regular edge maintenance. If you don’t sharpen your tools frequently you are effectively losing 50% or more of the tools working capacity and efficiency! Yikes! In other words, not sharpening and cleaning your garden tools is like digging on one leg or pruning with your hands tied together!!

In truth, there are two main reasons why most people don’t sharpen their tools 1. They don’t know that they need to sharpen their tools/ they don’t know how to sharpen them 2. Their tools can not actually be sharpened. In this article, we will go over the first point for most of your major garden tools, but to learn more about the second point read the following article Why You Should Buy Forged Tools.

 

How to Sharpen Pruners

What you need:

  1. A file- a 6 inch double sided diamond file
  2. Oil- Linseed or vegetable oil works or you can get a proprietary garden tools oil
  3. Sand Paper- medium grit should work well
  4. A wash cloth
  5. Soap and water

 

Step 1. Clean the sappy residue and buildup from the pruner by dipping a washcloth into soapy water and rubbing the blade vigorously. Do not get water into the moving parts!

Step 2. Secure the pruner either with a vice or by hand with the cutting edge facing up.

Step 3. If you clamped the pruner hold the file with both hands like a golf putter (if holding with one hand grip firmly and hold the pruner in place with the other). Place the file at a 15 degree angle on the blade

Step 4. Evenly file the edge of the pruner with one full stroke from the bottom of the edge to the tip. Do not make several little strokes. FIle with one full continuous stroke. Do this until the bevel is clear.

Step 5. Do 10-20 continuous strokes or until the blade is sharp. If there are still nicks in the pruner blade, keep filing until you get to the level of the nicks.

Step 6. Use the sandpaper to remove any burrs.  

Step 7. Wipe the blade with a towel and a little oil and oil the moving parts as necessary.

 

Voila! There you have it. It’s that simple to have a well maintained set of pruners that will make your pruning chores easy and efficient!

Note: To sharpen loppers or hedge shears, you definitely need a vice or clamp. Use both hands  and make full strokes. You may also want to remove/ readjust the nut as that may make the tools easier to sharpen.

 

How to Sharpen Big Garden Tools (i.e. Shovels, Spades, and Hoes)

What you need:

  1. A file- a 8-10 inch double sided diamond file
  2. Oil- Motor oil works well for larger tools as it also helps prevent rust.
  3. Sand Paper- medium grit should work well
  4. A vice or clamp.
  5. A washcloth

 

Step 1. Again make sure to clean your tools. You can remove any dirt or build up by hosing off the tool and wiping it off with a dry towel or rag.

Step 2. Secure the shovel with a vice with the cutting edge facing up. This is a very important step.

Step 3. Hold the file with both hands like a golf putter and place the file at a 20-30 degree angle on the blade, depending on how sharp you want the tool.

Step 4. Here you have two options. You can either evenly file the edge of the tool with one full stroke, moving away from you, or you can move the file vigorously up and down will moving down the length of the blade. Larger tools have stronger steel and require more effort when sharpening.

Step 5. File until the bevel is clearly exposed and the tool is sharp.

Step 6. Use the sandpaper to remove any burrs.  

Step 7. Wipe the blade with a towel and a little oil as necessary.

 

It’s that easy folks! Regular maintenance and sharpening of your garden tools will allow you to be more efficient in the garden and to decrease the frustration associated with dull tools.

Note: If your tool has not been sharpened in a while, you may need to use a grinder to get it back to shape. It would take a long time to get a very dull blade back into shape with a file a lone. For advice on how to use a grinder. See How to Use a Grinder to Sharpen Your Tools.

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