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How to Sharpen Hedge Clippers

By Jane Smith ; Updated September 21, 2017
Sharpening hedge clippers is not complicated.
rusty garden shears image by hazel proudlove from Fotolia.com

Dull hedge clippers will not make the clean, straight edges that make a privet hedge look well-kept. Clean cuts on the ends of privet branches prevent disease and insect damage. Bruised ends can rot or develop unsightly scars. It is not difficult to sharpen hedge clippers once you take them apart.

Box wrenches come in standard and metric sizes.
wrench tools image by AGITA LEIMANE from Fotolia.com

Sketch the position of the hinge bolt, spring and washers to help you remember the correct way to replace them. Remove the hinge bolt, spring and washers from the clippers using the correct size box wrench or ratchet. There is just enough difference between metric and standard wrench sizes that the bolt can slip if you choose the wrong one.

Clean the blades with a scouring pad and mineral spirits before sharpening, according to the advice of Australian gardening expert Don Burke of the Burke's Backyard television program and magazine.

Sharpen the bevels with a file.
three file image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from Fotolia.com

Sharpen the edge bevel of both blades to the original angle, using a fine mill bastard file. When finished, you should feel a sharp burr on the contact side of the clipper blade, which is where the two blades meet when they are assembled.

Lay the file flat on the contact side of the blade. Scuff toward the edge until the burr is gone. The entire length of the blade should feel sharp.

Replace the spring, washers, bolt and nut in their original positions, using your sketch as a reference point.

Tighten the nut until the blades make a clean shearing sound while cutting a piece of notebook paper. The blades should return to the open position as soon as you release pressure on the handles.


Things You Will Need

  • Sketch pad, pencil
  • Scouring pad and mineral spirits
  • Metric and standard box or ratchet wrench sets
  • Fine mill bastard file
  • Notebook paper


  • If you cannot find a box wrench or ratchet that fits your bolt, you may be using the wrong measurement system. Metric and standard measures differ just enough that you should have a set of each available. Use slip-joint pliers or a crescent wrench if you cannot find a match for the bolt on your clippers.


  • Disinfect your shears with alcohol or bleach after every use if you are pruning diseased plants. This prevents spreading blight or diseases to healthy plants, according to Texas A &M Extension Horticulturalist, Douglas F. Welsh and Landscape Horticulturalist, the late Everett Janne.

About the Author


Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.