How to Sharpen Pruning Tools


Pruning is a common maintenance aspect of home landscape care. Trimming plants requires sharp tools to make the task easier and to protect each plant during cutting. Sharpening pruning tools requires careful honing of the blade surface to imitate the original cutting edge. You can perform this maintenance task at home with the proper tools to sharpen pruning shears, lopping shears and pruning saws.

Step 1

Examine the full length of the pruning tool. Look for pocked or rusted areas on the blade surface. If the blade is covered with sap, rinse it in warm soap water and scrub the blade with a scrub brush. A clean blade surface is easier to sharpen.

Step 2

Look at the sharp edge of the pruning tool. Every blade features an angle called a bevel. This reflects the slight slant of the cutting surface. Sharpening pruning tools doesn't involve expanding the beveled edge. Instead, gardeners sharpen pruning tools to hone the existing edge for a sharper cut, according to University of Florida Extension.

Step 3

Wear protection for your eyes and hands. Rub the blade surface carefully with steel wool to remove imperfections from the steel. This process removes build up dirt, sap or rust. Lightly sand the blade with fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface. Be careful to limit rubbing against gloved hands to avoid cutting your fingers.

Step 4

Open the handle of the pruning tool completely and secure it tightly in the bench vise. Place the blade area of the tool at a slight angle for comfortable sharpening. Hold the mill file in both hands and place the file teeth against the pruning tool's cutting surface at the same angle as the bevel (cutting edge). Do not alter the file angle when sharpening to avoid permanently dulling the cutting surface. Match the mill file to the bevel exactly.

Step 5

Sharpen the pruning blade using a single downward stroke. Lift the file, reposition it and complete a second stroke. Proceed with this method until the edge becomes honed but not too sharp. Overly sharp pruning tools weaken quickly when cutting because the metal edge is thin. Release the pruning tool from the vise and reposition the tool to tackle the other cutting surface.

Step 6

Use a wire brush to remove shavings from the pruning tools. Spray a light coating of WD40 onto the metal portions of the tool to preserve the steel and prevent rust.

Things You'll Need

  • Protective eyewear
  • Gloves
  • Dish soap
  • Rags
  • Scrub brush
  • Bench vise
  • Bristle brush
  • 8 to 10 inch mill file
  • Sand paper
  • Steel wool
  • WD40 spray oil


  • Unviersity of Florida: Sharpening Tools for Landscaping and Gardening
  • Cornell University: Caring for Your Tools
  • Alaska Native Knowledge Network: Sharpening Tools
Keywords: sharpen pruning tools, pruning tool care, garden tool sharpening

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.