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How to Unjam Blades on an Electric Hedge Trimmer

By James Young
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Jammed blades on electric or gas trimmers usually result from tackling jobs too big for the machine. The density of woody stems varies from species to species. Not everything that fits into the cutting zone of a hedge trimmer's teeth can actually be cut. As blades dull with use and sap builds up on the bar, the friction load increases and the cutting ability decreases. Regular maintenance helps avoid jammed blades and damaged trimmers.

Step 1

Stop the trimmer. Take your fingers off the operating trigger and turn off the power switch. Unplug the power cord before attempting to free the blades.

Step 2

Inspect the blades and determine the cause of the jam. Grasp branches jammed between blade teeth and bend the outer section back toward the stem. Clean breaks usually free the machine. Clip the trimmer free with pruning shears if the branch doesn't break. Shear any broken wood clean with the pruning clippers.

Step 3

Place the trimmer on the ground or a flat work surface and check for damage and lodged debris. Push out wooden debris stuck between teeth with a small wooden dowel 3/8 or 1/2 inch in diameter. Wear gloves and be careful--a slip could send fingers into the cutting teeth.

Step 4

Check for bent teeth or cracked blades, either of which could cause more damage to the trimmer. Replace damaged hedge trimmer blades before using the electric hedge trimmer again. Sharpen dull blades to improve the trimmer's performance and prevent more serious issues.

Step 5

Prevent blade jams by keeping the cutting blades in good condition. Clean blades after use--plain soap and water rubbed over the blades with a clean cloth removes most dirt and sap buildup. Resin removers clear the blades of sticky evergreen sap.

Step 6

Spray the hedge trimmer blades with oil or WD-40 after cleaning. Regular lubrication increases efficiency and prolongs machine life.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Wooden dowel
  • Gloves
  • Soap
  • Resin cleaner
  • Clean rag
  • Spray lubricant


  • Don't twist the blades free if stuck in a bush. Twisting could bend teeth or crack the blades as well as loosen important fittings. Hold the trimmer still and work on the branch.


  • Never try to clear jammed electric trimmer blades by powering through the cut. Running the trimmer with jammed blades could quickly ruin the clutch or drive belt.

About the Author


James Young began writing in 1969 as a military journalist combat correspondent in Vietnam. Young's articles have been published in "Tai Chi Magazine," "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," Sonar 4 ezine, "Stars & Stripes" and "Fine Woodworking." He has worked as a foundryman, woodturner, electronics technician, herb farmer and woodcarver. Young graduated from North Seattle Community College with an associate degree in applied science and electronic technology.