Sharpening Methods for Garden Tools

Sharpening your garden tools may be one of the most important skills you can learn to make your work in the garden easier and more enjoyable.

However, any tool that has nuts & bolts, screws, blades or chains will need some cleaning and sharpening. Usually after a couple years of service, your favorite garden tools like garden cutters, shears and pruners start losing their edge. That’s when they need to be cleaned and sharpened. After all, a sharp tool cuts more easily and accurately than a dull one!

From long-handled pruning shears to shorter grass garden cutters or long-bladed hedge shears, these blades can quickly wear down after a few seasons of work. To sharpen the tools, you’ll only want to sharpen the blade edge. The other edge of them does not need to be sharpened.


To sharpen pruners, you’ll only want to sharpen the blade edge. The other edge of the pruners does not need to be sharpened. Hold the pruners in your non-sharpening hand. Stroke the sharpener against the blade’s factory bevel, pulling the sharpener away from the pruners handles. Remember to run the file the entire length of the blade. Don’t file across the pruners blade; file parallels with the blade. Do this about five times. The blade will begin to shine. You’ll feel the burr start to form on the opposite side. Flip the pruners over, and remove the burr with the sharpener or sandpaper.

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Loppers and Hedge Shears

Loppers can be sharpened the same way as pruners. If you’re going to use a file, consider buying a file handle. A handle will let you easily use the file. Sharpen both blades of hedge shears.

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To sharpen your shovel, use a bastard mill file. At a 45 degree angle, stroke the file across the edge of the shovel blade in a back and forth motion. Flat-edged shovels usually don’t need much sharpening, but shovels with a curved edge depend on the sharpness of the edge to easily penetrate tough soil, roots, ice, and other materials. Keep this edge crisp by periodically cleaning and sharpening the blade. A large file can help add a new edge, but if the shovel has some serious dings and nicks, you will need a grinder to really buff out the edge.

When you’ve sharpened your garden tools, you should lubricate them with oil. The oil will help prevent the formation of rust on your tools. Use non-petroleum based synthetic oils, such as silicone fluids, tung oils and wood-derivative oils. Petroleum oil used on your tools will seep into your garden’s soil. It’s harmful for animals and vegetation. It’s best to clean and sharpen your tools throughout the gardening and pruning season.
Some garden tools like shears – and most of the other tools on our list – can also rust over time, or develop thick layers or grime. It’s vital to remove rust and dirt before you start sharpening. This is where high-grit sandpaper is useful: Sand the blades down to a nice shine before you begin sharpening.

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