Pruning tools assist the gardener in a variety of tasks around the home landscape. Hedge and lopping shears are two entirely different pruning tools used for different pruning jobs. Hedge shears trim ornamental plants requiring flat shapes and even surface grooming. Lopping shears feature a slightly curved blade with long handles to cut individual branches. Gardeners can sharpen both types of shears with the same files. Hedge and lopping shears should be maintained to a sharp cutting edge to limit damage to plants.
Wear goggles and gloves to protect eyes and hands from metal shavings. Open the blades of the hedge or lopping shears, and secure one blade tightly in the bench vise.
Examine the blade closely to determine the angle of the edge. This edge, called a bevel, represents the primary cutting surface. Don't work against the bevel to create a wider or too-sharp edge. Follow the bevel to maintain tool integrity.
Remove any dirt or grime using a wire brush. Tackle rusted areas using firm pressure on a clump of steel wool. A smooth blade surface allows quick sharpening without damage to the blade. Keep the wire brush handy to clean shavings from the mill file as you proceed through the sharpening chore.
Grasp the mill file with both hands placed on the ends of the file. Mill files cut on the push stroke and two hands allow more control and even pressure on the cutting surface. Place the mill file at an angle to match the blade bevel and push forward with a firm stroke. Lift the file off the blade surface on the return stroke.
Brush or blow away metal shavings to gauge progress in sharpening. Smooth the blade edge with steel when finished using the file. Unclasp the tool from the vise and insert the next blade. Do not attempt to sharpen blades at an odd angle. Always look for the angle of bevel and apply the file to conform with this cutting surface.