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How to Sharpen Garden Shears and Clippers

2016-05-26

Generally, it's important to keep your pruning tools, including clippers and garden shears, sharp, which not only ensures they work as they should, but also protects your plants. Dull clippers rip through stems as they trim, creating a wound that takes longer to heal. Dull, dirty tools may also spread plant disease. However, sharp tools are simply easier to use. Therefore, it is necessary to sharpen your garden clippers and shears regularly.

Whether you're sharpening hedge trimmers, bypass clippers or anvil loppers, the job would be much easier if you disassemble the tool in advance, but do this only if the tool is not spring-loaded. Unscrew the nut that joins the blades with the use of a wrench. Remove the nut, bolt and washer, and put them in a safe place.

Wipe off sap and resins with a rag soaked with alcohol, mineral oil or spray lubricant. Remove rust by sanding or scrubbing with a wire brush or a steel wool pad, being careful to keep your fingers away from the edge of the blade. If the blades are seriously rusted, dissolve the rust by spraying vinegar on the blades and leaving the tool for several minutes. Lemon juice, baking soda and cola can also dissolve rust.

Clamp each blade in a vise, if you didn't disassemble the clippers, clamp the entire tool so that one of the blades is facing up. Place the file or stone flush against the bevel of the blade, look carefully to ensure you gauge this correctly, because if the sharpening tool is at an angle to the blade bevel, it won't hone the edge properly.

Draw the file or stone along the edge, moving it away from you on each stroke. Stop after about five strokes and feel the edge carefully with your ungloved finger. Stroke a few more times if it doesn't feel sharp enough. Turn the blade or tool over and sharpen the other edge if there is a bevel on that side. Bypass clipper blades usually have a bevel on only one side, but anvil clippers have bevels on both sides. Besides, run the file or stone lightly along the edge of the blade to de-burr it after you've sharpened it.

Wipe the blade with a rag soaked with alcohol after you've sharpened it, to remove fine metal shards and to disinfect it. Put a few drops of mineral oil on the blade and rub it in with another rag.

Reassemble the clippers, if you took them apart, and tighten the nut enough to make the blades cut smoothly but remain loose enough to make the tool easy to use. In addition, whether or not you took the Garden Tools apart, lubricate the joint with a few drops of penetrating oil.