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How to Sharpen Pruners and Loppers (and an occasional shovel)
Hillary T
How to Sharpen Pruners and Loppers (and an occasional shovel)

Put a glint on your edges!

Why? Because sharp pruners create a cleaner cut and a cleaner cut is a healthier cut.

Also, it's easier to prune when tools are sharp. When a blade glides through a branch like butter, that's easier on your hands and arms. Less fatigue means more pruning gets done and you're less tired at happy hour and can restfully hold that adult beverage in your happy hands.


Sharpening Hand Pruners & Loppers

I use an Arno sharpener for pruners and loppers.

I've had mine for 15 years, along with the loppers. It fits nicely in my pocket and is easy to use. A welcome pause in the pruning action allows me to to put a clean, efficient edge back on my loppers and hand pruners.

I spend about one third of my sharpening time deep into the blade at the base, plenty of time in the middle, then the remaining time at the tip. Sharpen all three of these areas.

Depending how you prune or what your task is, you may only wear out one section of your blade. Me, I'm all over in my style, varying how I use the blade, but sometimes there is extra use of the tips of the hand pruners when doing fine work and at that point I probably should be switching to bonsai pruners like Mike is alway suggesting. Sometimes I pause simply to sharpen the tip a bit and keep that nice clean cut.

As you sharpen, simply follow the angle of the blade that's already there. After a few passes, it will start shine up and eventually you'll see that the blade is developing again.

Sharpeners come with directions. Follow them and you'll quickly get the hang of it.


Sharpening Shovels

We also sharpen our shovels using a different tool - a bigger file - and we don't try to put a razor-sharp edge on it. Just a better edge to help us get through the orange Georgia clay a little smoother.

These files are also called rasps, a tool used for coarse sharpening.

Like with pruners, sharpen all areas and follow the angle of the mild blade (if you can even call it that) already in place. It's usually a faint angle, but it's usually there.


It may be too wet, snowy, or just plain cold (or hot) to get out in your garden right now. Sharpening your tools is one way to feel connected to it, plus you'll be ready to get out there when the weather stops barring your door.

Stay Sharp,

Hillary & Mike


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