My gardeners and outdoor grounds crew use their tools all year long, so it is important to keep them clean and in good working order.
If you're an avid gardener, you know sharp pruning tools not only make chores easier to complete, but they also make cleaner cuts, which allow plants to heal faster. Making clean cuts also exposes them to less damage from diseases, insects, fungi and weather extremes. Recently, on a cold and snowy day, Wilmer took some time to thoroughly clean and sharpen his long-handled sheers and hand-pruners. Here are a few photos of the process, and a few tips I hope will help you care for your valuable gardening implements.
For this task, Wilmer took out some sandpaper, oil, and several kinds of sharpeners.
First, Wilmer cleans his long-handlled Japanese sheers. Using a medium grit sandpaper, he scrapes off any dirt, sap or other debris.
It is important to get all the dirt off the blades – anything left on tools can attract and hold moisture, leading to rust.
Out in the gardens, these sheers are great for trimming and shaping. Here, Wilmer uses them to prune the barberry and boxwood on my terrace parterre.
Once the sheers are completey clean, Wilmer uses a single edge blade to sharpen each side of the sheers. It doesn’t need much – just about five or six strokes on each edge.
There are all sorts of sharpening tools at the hardware store – many are hand held single blade sharpeners like this one, which is handy to carry in a gardening bag.
The bevel is what makes a tool sharp, and blades are factory ground to a precise angle that’s just right for each tool. When sharpening a blade, focus on maintaining the bevel.
Oil helps to lubricate the parts of the sheers and makes it perform more smoothly.
Wilmer adds a few drops on each side of the sheers and to the joint where the two sides meet.
He carefully spreads the oil along both sides. This seals the blades during the winter and adds another protection against rust.
Then Wilmer tests out the sheers, and listens to how the parts move together – the sheers should work smoothly and evenly.
This pair of sheers has some rust on its blades. Most pruning tools are held together by a simple bolt. It is not necessary to take them apart for cleaning, but it is possible and very easy to do if needed.
Using the same medium grit sandpaper, Wilmer scrapes the surface to get off all the rust from the edges.
It may take some time, but the rust does come off.
This sharpener is an all-in-one tool for sharpening pruners, loppers, or even household scissors. It allows for easy sharpening without disassembling and it is ergonomically designed for added control and accuracy.
Wilmer carefully runs the sharpener along the length of each blade.
Then he does the same with the single edge sharpener to get into the tight spots.
Again, Wilmer treats the sheers with a coating of oil. Nearly any oil will do – household oil, or even vegetable oil.
Wilmer examines the sharpening he has done and is pleased with the outcome – these sheers are ready to use.
This is a pair of Martha Stewart all-purpose scissors. Wilmer uses the all-in-one sharpener to give it a good sharpening.
Wilmer also runs a hone file along the edges.
Wilmer carries this hone file sharpener with him all the time – it is a hand held mini hone file by DMT. It is made from Monocrystaline diamonds, which makes it strong and very durable.
Finally, Wilmer works on his trusty hand-pruners. Our favorite are these red and white handled pruners from Okatsune. http://www.amleo.com/okatsune-hand-pruners-075-inch-cutting-capacity-8-inch-length/p/OK103/
Because Wilmer uses his pruners every day, he is careful to clean them thoroughly with the sandpaper.
Every inch of the beveled blade is scraped of debris.
Then he uses the all-in-one pruner, knife and tool sharpener.
And the five-inch hone file.
Here is Wilmer using his hand-pruners to prune the raspberry canes.
Wilmer does touch-up sharpening with this handy file when he is out working – it is very important to make the cleanest cuts for faster healing and to prevent disease.
He lubricates all clean, sharpened metal parts with oil.
And then wipes off any excess – look, they’re good as new.
Wilmer puts his pruners in the heady leather holder, and he’s ready to go.
All his tools are ready to use! Is it time to clean and sharpen your gardening tools?