How to Sharpen Anvil Pruning Shears


Anvil pruning shears trap twigs between a cutting blade and a flat anvil jaw. Hand pressure forces the blade through the stem. Dull anvil pruners crush the wood, damaging the stump of the branch. Slow healing and infection can result. Sharpening the pruner (or replacing it) prevents unnecessary damage to valued ornamentals. Most modern pruning shears were not constructed for easy sharpening and do not fully disassemble. Careful sharpening does increase their useful lifetime, but replacement often makes better sense. The best types of anvil pruning shears include replaceable blades as well as anvils.

Step 1

Open the anvil pruning shears completely, and fix the open handles securely in a bench vise with the anvil jaw to the left. If the anvil is the removable type, unscrew the replaceable jaw and set it aside.

Step 2

Check whether the cutting jaw is double-beveled or single-beveled with a flat back. Work on the beveled side first if the shears are single-beveled. Most anvil shears work with double-beveled blades.

Step 3

Pass the flat file over the full length of the bevel of the cutting jaw, stroking towards the anvil jaw. Keep the same angle as the original bevel. Use short strokes to prevent damage to the anvil jaw. Sharpen the opposite side of double-beveled blades until new metal shows along the full length of both sides.

Step 4

Remove the bur by rubbing a flat diamond hone against the backside of the single-beveled blade. Alternate the flat hone against the bevels of both sides of the double-beveled blade to create a more finished edge.

Step 5

Replace the anvil plate on the anvil jaw.

Tips and Warnings

  • Repeated sharpening increases the gap between anvil and blade, causing incomplete cuts. If shears consistently give poor results even when sharp, replace them.

Things You'll Need

  • Anvil pruners
  • Bench vise
  • Flat or Phillips screwdriver
  • Smooth flat file
  • Fine-grit diamond hone


  • University of Rhode Island: A Guide to Successful Pruning
  • Daily Herald: How to Sharpen Garden Tools
  • Aggie Horticulture: Follow Proper Pruning Techniques

Who Can Help

  • University of Georgia: Pruning Ornamental Plants in the Landscape
Keywords: anvil pruning shears, sharpen anvil shears, dull anvil pruners

About this Author

James Young began writing as a military journalist in Alaska and combat correspondent in Vietnam. He specializes in electronics, turnery, blacksmithing, outdoor sports, woodcarving, joinery and sailing. Young's articles have been published in "Tai Chi Magazine," "Sonar 4 Ezine," "The Marked Tree," "Stars & Stripes," the "SkinWalker Files" and "Fine Woodworking."