How To Sharpen Garden Shears: A Step By Step Guide

How to Sharpen Garden Shears: A Step by Step Guide

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Dull or blunt garden shears don’t do anyone any favors. They also make your work a lot harder. That’s why you need to ensure you sharpen them on a regular basis.

How often should you sharpen your garden shears? A general guideline to follow is this: Whenever they start to feel like they’re not cutting cleanly through your hedge or branch, it’s time to give them a bit of a sharpening.

There are easy ways to sharpen your garden shears. Here’s a step-by-step guide so you can get back to what you love: gardening!

Step One: Clean The Shears

Clean The Shear

Before you can sharpen your garden shears, you have to make sure that its blades are clean.

This is important, not just because dirt or other materials on the blade can get in the way of your sharpening process, but because such debris can actually damage the blades.

To clean your gardening shears, all you need is a container filled with soapy water – add about two teaspoons of dish soap to warm water.

With steel wool or a stiff brush that’s been dipped into the water, gently scrub the blades on both sides. When they’re nice and clean, rinse them well and dry them with a rag.

Step Two: Put On Safety Apparel 

gardening what to wear

You should always protect your hands when sharpening your garden shears because you never know what accidents could happen!

You’re working with dangerous blades, after all, so be safe.

If you’re going to be using an angle grinder to sharpen your gardening tools, which we’ll get to later on in this article, you have to wear protective eye goggles.

Step Three: Purchase A Multi Sharpener

While you could use other items to sharpen garden shears, a tool called a multi sharpener definitely makes the task a lot easier.

A multi sharpener is a tool that has blades which can sharpen your garden shears in a few swipes. Make sure that it contains a tungsten carbide edge so that it’s more durable. You can purchase a variety of multi sharpeners on Amazon, where many of them will cost you less than $12.

Step Four: Open The Shears

Open Shear

To get started with sharpening your garden shears, you should open the shears so that the blades are extended and the shears are forming an “x” shape.

This will enable you to sharpen all along the blades. While sharpening the blades, you want to hold the shears at the spot between its handles with a firm grasp.

Step Five: Use The Sharpening Tool 

Use The Sharpening Tools

Press the sharpening tool at the bottom of one blade and then swiftly but firmly glide it along the blade in one swift movement all the way to the top.

Take your time so that it doesn’t skid off the blade. Repeat this swiping motion two or three times along each blade. Then, turn the shears around and sharpen the blades on those sides too.

Step Six: Check The Blades’ Edges

Check the blade edges

How do you know if you’re sharpening the blades correctly?

After you’ve used the sharpening tool on them, check their edges. Are they shiny all over? If so, then you know that you’re doing a good job to sharpen them.

If they’re not shiny, you might be holding your sharpening tool incorrectly. Try sharpening them again and this time gently but firmly swipe the sharpener all along the blades on both sides.

Step Seven: Oil Down The Blades

Applying a bit of oil to the shears after sharpening them is important to prevent rust.

You can make your task easier here by choosing a multi sharpener that comes with oil.

When applying oil, apply it all along the blades and their cutting edges on both sides before storing the shears away so that when you use them the next time, they’ll be rust-free and ready to go. 

There you go! That’s an easy, fuss-free way to sharpen your garden shears.

With the right tools at your disposal, you can easily transform your dull shears into razor-sharp ones within minutes, without any stress.

How To Sharpen Garden Shears That Are Rusty

Now, if you have rusty shears at home, you might wonder if there’s any way to sharpen them.

You’re in luck because you can bring them back to life, although the process is a little different from sharpening garden shears that don’t have rust. Here is what to do.

  • First, you have to eliminate the rust that’s on the shears. You can do this with a DIY recipe that makes use of ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Simply add equal amounts of water and vinegar to a container and soak your rusty garden shears in it overnight. This will help to remove the rust that has accumulated on the shears.
  • The next day, use a brush or steel wool to rub off the rust, using gentle circular motions.
  • Once all the rust has been removed, wash the tool with soap and water.
  • Set it somewhere to dry properly.
  • Once it is dry, you can go about sharpening the shears by following the same tips as those mentioned earlier. Don’t forget to apply some oil to the shear’s blades so that you’ll prevent rust from forming on them in future.

There are other ways to prevent your garden shears from becoming rusty.

Make sure you clean your tools with a rag and some soapy water after every use to prevent rust from forming, especially if you’ve used them on dirty branches.

After they’ve been cleaned and dried completely, make sure you store your shears – and all your gardening tools – in a dry place where they won’t be affected by humidity. 

Other Ways To Sharpen Garden Tools

Sharpening Files

Maybe you’ve heard that you should use an angle grinder or mill file to sharpen your garden tools, but you might be wondering if these items are useful for garden shears.

It sure is convenient if you already have them in your garage, though, right?

Well, it’s time to clear up the confusion.

Here are the most common sharpening tools and when it’s best to use them, as well as which ones can come in handy when you don’t have a multi sharpener tool in the house.

Mill File

What it is: A mill file is a long file made of metal that works well to sharpen a variety of garden tools.

What it’s best for: Smaller tools like shears, because larger blades will take more time to sharpen, especially if they’re really blunt. Using a mill file on a smaller tool will also be easier to handle.

Angle Grinder

What it is: An angle grinder is a handheld grinder that contains a round, rough disc on the end that you can use to sharpen a variety of objects.

What it’s best for: Garden tools such as lawnmower blades, shovels, and hoes. It’s too big and clumsy to use on smaller gardening tools, while being more difficult to operate, so it’s best avoided for your safety.

Sharpening Stone

What it is: Sharpening stones can be natural or artificial stones that take the form of silicon carbide or aluminium oxide. These are used to sharpen tools.

What it’s best for: Hedge shears, but you can use them for tools that have larger blades. To make them work well on these larger blades, you should purchase sharpening stones that have diamonds in them because it’s much stronger.

Related Questions

What is a good oil to use on garden tools to prevent rust?

You could use a variety of oils, such as Tung oil, lamp oil, or even cooking oil. The best choices, according to Today’s Home Owner, are Tung oil and boiled linseed oil. These are great options, especially if you don’t have a multi sharpener that comes with oil.

Should you dismantle your gardening shears before sharpening them?

This is best avoided because taking your shears apart can make them not quite feel the same as they did beforehand, as Gardens Illustrated reports, so rather just focus on sharpening them when they’re intact. The bonus is that it’s much easier to do it in this way.

Dismantled Sharpening Shears


Having sharp shears will make your gardening work much easier.

After reading this article, you now know everything you need to know to sharpen your dull garden shears, and even ones that have become rusty, without having to spend a lot of time or money on them.

Although will need a sharpening tool in order to bring your garden shears back to life, these don’t have to be expensive.

Happy gardening!

Last Updated on August 20, 2022 by Gustaf Johansson

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