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The easy no fear way to sharpen garden pruners

It’s time to inject some life back into those garden tools, the easy way!

First things first, you absolutely don’t need to sharpen, clean or oil your garden tools. However, if you do, they will last longer, work better and you will save money because you won’t need to replace things as much, or in some cases, ever. But I know it is a scary subject and the more you search online for help, the scarier it can be.

Until now… cause I’m going to show you just how quick and easy it can be. Trust me on this. I can get you up and running in minutes!

So my job today is to try to persuade you that YES YOU CAN sharpen your own garden tools. NO, IT’S NOT difficult or complicated and YOU WON’T ruin them. (Party political broadcast by Eli 🙂 )

Now, let’s cut to the chase (pun totally intended). A pair of dull secateurs is like trying to cut through a jungle with a pair of safety scissors – it’s frustrating, time-consuming, and frankly, a little embarrassing. Let’s solve that and transform your garden tool game, not turn it into a struggle against your own plants.

I’m going to ask you to go get a couple of props to use while you read, it’ll help I promise. Go get a sharp knife from your kitchen drawer and a pair of secateurs from your garden tool stuff. Go on, I’ll wait on you don’t worry.

OK ready? Let’s go then.

Right have a look at the knife blade, what shape is it?
What I am hoping you will see is that there is a small, shallow bevel on each side that makes the blade “pointed”.

Now go and look at your secateurs, notice anything different?

I’m hoping what you noticed is that the secateurs have only one bevelled edge. Edge, that’s the word I am going to use now, because the edge, or knowing how to identify the edge on your tools is key to sharpening, because… you only sharpen the edge. This is the key, the secret sauce, to sharpening your tools. Basically, it’s making that edge as fine as possible which makes it cut.

So, now that you can identify the edge, the next thing I want you to look at is the angle of the bevel on both the knife and the secateurs. Notice if they are the same or different. This is the bit that usually scares people, so let me just tell you right now. There is no need to be scared. Even if we get this next bit completely wrong, it is absolutely fixable, in fact, the more often you have to fix it, the quicker you will become an expert!

Ok so how we are going to sharpen things is by taking our sharpening tool and lightly (no need to apply loads of force) dragging it along that edge, trying to match the angle of the bevel. Don’t overthink it, let the edge and the tool guide you rather than you trying to force things.


Em… that’s it. Do that for something like 20 or 30 strokes and you have just sharpened your secateurs. Honestly. That’s it. There is one wee last thing to do, run your thumb across the back of the blade you have just sharpened. Obviously don’t run it along the blade, run it across the blade at a 90-degree angle. Now, do you feel like there is a wee rough bit? That’s called burr. Basically, all those minuscule bits of metal you pushed aside to make your edge sharp have bent over to the other side. All we do is pass your sharpening tool over these (along the blade) but this time, not at an angle, just flat to the surface, and this will take the burr off.

Sharpening stones etc

I’m going to chat to you just a tiny bit about sharpening tools as in tools for sharpening. Basically, because there are two types. When we do a type of sharpening (which is also called polishing) more typical to woodwork tools where you need a super, fine edge that’s razor-sharp, you are more likely to use something called a wet stone. There are different types of stones and they come in different grades. The grades are a bit like sandpaper and basically, it is a measure of how rough the stone is and so how much metal it will remove in each pass.

We don’t need these for sharpening our garden tools. Instead, I recommend a quick sharpening tool or a pocket stone. The reason is that the quick tools are designed to sharpen quickly while you are out getting work done. They won’t give you a razor-sharp edge or polish it to a mirror, but they will make your tools sharp enough to prune and cut in the garden easily, and they are very easy to use.

In the video above, you’ll see the little tool I use. This is from a company called Sharpal, although they are all so similar that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend one over an other. But they all work on the same premise that they are small and convenient to carry with you and the sharpening part is tougher than the blade of your tools.

Unleash the Pruner Ninja Within

There you have it, the scoop on why, how, and with what to sharpen your garden pruners. So, grab your gardening gloves, rev up those pruners, and get ready to slice through your garden chores like a boss. Your plants will high-five you, your garden will throw a little party, and you’ll be the superhero of sharp. Here’s to happy gardening and pruners that stay forever sharp!

Eli’s pocket sharpener: https://amzn.to/

Kate’s favourite multi sharpener for secateurs, shears, knives and more: https://amzn.to/3ul3IsL

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