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Beginner's Guide to Sharpening Bypass Pruners

How to Sharpen Bypass Pruners: A Step-by-Step Guide

Pruner Sharpening Title


Ever struggle with ragged cuts and bruised stems when pruning your plants? Sharp pruners are the secret of every successful gardener, ensuring clean cuts that promote healthy growth and prevent disease. This guide will walk you through the simple steps of sharpening your bypass pruners, so you can get back to making precise snips with confidence.

Understanding Your Pruners

A labelled diagram of bypass pruners showing which is the cutting blade and where the bevel that needs sharpening is.

Bypass pruners, the most common type among gardeners, feature two blades that work in conjunction: the main cutting blade and the anvil blade. The cutting blade is sharp and does the actual cutting, while the anvil blade holds the plant material in place. It’s only the cutting blade that needs sharpening.

Why Sharp Pruners Matter:

  • Clean cuts: Minimize plant damage and encourage faster healing.
  • Reduced effort: Slice effortlessly through branches, saving you time and energy.
  • Healthier plants: Prevent the spread of diseases through clean cuts.
  • Longer pruner lifespan: Proper care extends the life of your gardening tools.

Ready to get started? Let's grab our tools!

What You'll Need To Sharpen Your Pruners:

The tools needed for sharpening a bypass pruner, a scouring brush, rust remover, an appropriate sharpener. and a rust preventor.

Alongside the pruner and scouring pad is a Naniwa Rust Eraser, a Fine (red) and a Coarse (blue) DMT Diamond Flat File, and a spray bottle of Camellia Oil

  • Sharpener: Coarse and fine grits. We like these diamond sharpeners as they’re thin enough to sharpen without dismantling your pruners.
  • Cleaning supplies: Soap, water, scouring pad, Naniwa Rust Eraser
  • Lubricant and rust protector: Boeshield T-9 or similar, camellia oil.
  • How To Sharpen Your Garden Pruners

    Step 1: Clean Your Pruners

    Before you start sharpening, ensure your pruners are clean. Remove sap and plant residue using warm, soapy water and a scouring pad. For rust spots, Naniwa's Rust Eraser is your friend. This step is crucial; a clean blade is easier to sharpen and less likely to spread diseases between your plants.

    Using the Naniwa Rust Eraser to remove rust from the pruner.

    The Naniwa Rust Eraser removes rust quickly, leaving a surface that's easier to sharpen.

    Step 2: Sharpening Your Pruner Blade

      • Choose the right grit: Heavily dulled blades? Start with the coarsest grit. Regular maintenance? Fine grit is your friend.
      • Find the angle: Hold the sharpener to match the angle of the blade's bevel. Most pruners will perform best with a sharpening angle of about 22.5 degrees.
    Holding the DMT Diamond Flat File at the same angle as the pruner's bevel

    Matching the sharpening angle of your pruners is the fastest and easiest way to keep them sharp.

      • Raise a burr: Run the sharpener along the edge in smooth, even strokes. A few passes are often enough to restore sharpness, but heavily worn blades might require more attention. Keep going until you can feel a burr along the whole length of the blade.
    Two images showing the DMT Diamond Flat File starting sharpening at the bottom of the pruner blade and finishing at the top.

    Sharpen along the full length of the edge until you can feel a burr on the other side of the blade.

      • Remove the burr: Flip the pruner over and lay the file on the back and make a few passes to remove the burr.
    The other side of the puner blade being sharpened with the DMT Diamond Flat File to remove the burr from the previous step.

    Sharp along the flat of the back of the blade to remove the burr.

    • Repeat: If you started with a coarse grit, go back to sharpening the bevel side with finer grits for a razor-sharp finish.
    • Test it out: Snip a twig or stem. A clean, effortless cut means you've nailed it!

    Step 3: Protect Your Pruners

    Apply a lubricant to the pivot to ensure easy movement of your pruners. After using your pruners, wipe them down with a rust preventer like Camellia Oil to keep the blades in top condition. Now your pruners are clean, sharp, and ready to tackle any trimming task!

    Step 4: Ensuring Perfect Pruner Blade Alignment

    Over time, your pruners might develop a gap between the blades. Check by holding them and trying to wiggle the handles – any movement indicates adjustment is needed. Tighten the bolt just enough to eliminate the gap while allowing smooth blade movement.

    Maintaining Sharpness for a Thriving Garden

    Maintaining the sharpness of your bypass pruners is more than just a chore; it's a commitment to the health and beauty of your garden. With every clean cut, you're not only shaping your plants but also ensuring they flourish in the best possible conditions. Now that you're equipped with the knowledge and steps to keep your pruners in top shape, the rest is in your hands. Don't let dull blades hinder your garden's potential. Remember, a well-maintained garden starts with well-maintained tools.