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Sharpen Your Own Pruners


Different Tools for Pruner Sharpening

Recently, we made a video exploring three ways to sharpen a Felco pruner. Well, we say pruners, but our resident Englishman Tom insists that they are really called secateurs. Call them what you will, pruners are a handy garden tool that will function much better when sharp. They are also a shape that causes some confusion about how to sharpen them and what to sharpen them with. We had John, Dan and Tom each choose their own method to sharpen them. Here is what they came up with.

John decided on the DMT Flat File for its easy handling.

John says: The DMT Diamond Flat File is a really quick and easy to use to sharpen a Felco pruner. No disassembly of the pruner is required since this flat file can easily fit inside the jaws of the pruner. You hold the pruner in one hand the use the Flat File on the bevel side of the blade. Felco recommends 23 degrees. You don’t need Swiss precision to get the angle, just visual a 45 degree angle and then do half of that angle to get close to your 23 degrees. I start with the coarse DMT Flat File since this one is quite dull. I know I’m done once I can feel a burr on the back side of the blade across the entire blade. At that point I flip the pruner over and lay the file on the back and raise it slightly so I can focus all of my sharpening on the back edge. I also have the Fine Diamaond Flat File so I will repeat the steps I did with the coarse. The Fine diamond will give it a finer edge for cleaner cuts.

Dan Chose the DMT Diamond Card Sized Sharpeners for their slim profile and small size.

Dan says: The DMT Diamond Card Sized Sharpeners were my choice. Like John, I thought of diamonds right away. They cut fast and are low maintenance, so I won't have to spend a lot of time sharpening, or taking care of the sharpening stones. I can get a sharp pruner and get back to work.

I was also thinking about size and like John I went for easily portable stones, but I looked for the smallest, thinnest, most easily carried stones I could think of. The Diamond Card Sharpeners fit the bill perfectly on all counts. They are thin to get in to tight spaces like between the blades of a pruner, and will slip almost unnoticed into your pocket.

The technique for sharpening the pruners with them is much like what John described. Holding the Pruner in my left hand, I hold the diamond card in my right and work the edge. I chose to use the coarse, medium and fine grits to be thorough.

Tom says: I picked the Naniwa Gouken Curved Water Stones.

The Goukens are soaking stones, so my choice needs a little forward planning. Fully immerse them in water until saturated. There’s a couple of different ways you sharpen the Felco pruners with the Naniwa Gouken curved waters stones. They’ve got a convex top, concave bottom and flat sides. As John and Dan have demonstrated, the flat surface will work perfectly fine. But the concave bottom fits the curve of the Felco blade really well. That means more metal is in contact with the abrasive during each pass, so you should be able to sharp it with fewer passes. The fact that the Naniwa Gouken packaging has a picture of a pruner on it wasn’t the sole basis for my choice. I really like sharpening with water stones, it’s a more enjoyable experience for me. These stones are specifically designed for sharpening gardening tools, so they’ll handle the curved blades of billhooks, budding blades and pruning knives too. They come in three different grits. 220 for repairing damage or quickly sharpening a dull edge, 1000 grit for general maintenance and 3000 grit for a fine edge. Great for when you need really clean cuts for tasks like grafting.

So there are three different options to consider for sharpening your pruners as picked by our sharpening experts. Any of these methods will give you a sharp tool, but you may find one or another of them more appealing depending on your situation. What method would you choose?