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Easy Steps to Clean and Sharpen Pruning Shears

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Every gardener knows the value of well-maintained tools, but the importance of keeping pruning shears in tip-top shape cannot be overstated. Clean, sharp shears make for healthier plants and a more enjoyable gardening experience.

Not only do they cut more cleanly, but they also reduce the effort you need to exert, making your gardening more efficient and pleasurable. In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to ensure your pruning shears are always ready for action.

Prepare Your Workspace

First and foremost, select a suitable location to work on your shears. Choose a clean, well-lit area such as a sturdy workbench or a table in your garage.

Gather all the necessary materials before you begin: cleaning cloths, a sharpening stone, lubricating oil, mild soap, water, a rust remover, and protective gloves.

Safety is paramount, so ensure you wear gloves to protect your hands and stabilize your working surface to prevent any slippage or accidents.

Clean the Pruning Shears

Disassemble the Shears
If your pruning shears can be taken apart, start by carefully disassembling them. This typically involves unscrewing the central nut that holds the blades together. Keeping track of all parts, like springs and washers, is crucial to easy reassembly later.

Remove Rust and Debris
Use a wire brush or rust remover to scrub off any rust from the metal parts. For stubborn rust, apply a rust remover and let it sit for the recommended time before scrubbing.

Next, prepare a mixture of warm water and mild soap to wash the blades thoroughly, removing sap, dirt, and debris that can cause corrosion and dull the blades. For sap-sticky blades, use rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth to wipe them down.

Dry the Shears Completely
After washing, it’s essential to dry your shears completely to prevent rust. Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe down all components. Allow them to air dry in a well-ventilated area to ensure no moisture remains.

Inspect the Shears

Once clean and dry, closely examine the shears. Look for any signs of wear or damage such as nicks or dullness on the blades.

Check the screws, springs, and the alignment of the blades to ensure they function correctly without unnecessary strain on any part.

Proper inspection can help you identify if further repairs or adjustments are needed before you move on to sharpening.

Sharpen the Blades

Sharpening your pruning shears is crucial to ensuring they cut through plant material easily and cleanly.

Begin by securing the blade. If you have a vise, use it to hold the blade firmly; if not, hold the blade securely in one hand, using your safety gloves, and the file or whetstone in the other.

Select the appropriate sharpening tool. A diamond file is ideal for pruning shears because it allows for precise control, but a whetstone can also be used effectively.

Start by filing the blade along its existing angle, typically a 10 to 20-degree angle to the flat side. Use smooth, even strokes and work from the base of the blade to the tip.

Check your progress frequently to ensure you are maintaining the correct angle and not removing too much metal.

After a few passes with the file, wipe the blade with a cloth to remove any metal filings and check the sharpness. The blade should be sharp enough to easily cut through a piece of paper.

Lubricate and Reassemble the Shears

After sharpening, it’s important to lubricate the shears to ensure they operate smoothly. Apply a few drops of oil to the joint and the spring mechanism.

Move the blades back and forth to work the oil into the moving parts. This not only prevents rust but also reduces the wear and tear caused by friction.

Now reassemble your shears, if you had disassembled them. Make sure all parts, including any washers and springs, are placed back correctly.

Tighten the central nut, but ensure the blades can still open and close smoothly. If the shears feel too tight or too loose, adjust the nut accordingly.

Maintain Your Pruning Shears

To keep your pruning shears in good condition, it’s vital to perform regular maintenance. Clean and sharpen the blades at least once a season or more frequently if you use them heavily.

After each use, wipe the blades down to remove sap and debris, and apply a light coating of oil to protect them from rust. Store your shears in a dry place to prevent moisture from causing rust and corrosion.

Proper storage involves hanging the shears up or placing them in a dry box with silica packets to absorb any moisture.

Avoid leaving them on the ground or in a damp shed where they can come into contact with moisture.

By following these steps, you can ensure your pruning shears are always in excellent condition, making your gardening tasks easier and more enjoyable.

Regular maintenance not only prolongs the life of your tools but also helps in promoting healthy plant growth by making cleaner cuts.

Take the time today to clean, sharpen, and maintain your pruning shears using this guide as your go-to resource.

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