Sharpening your shears and loppers is the key to speeding up your pruning work. While it can seem bothersome to take a few extra minutes to sharpen your tools, getting used to it can drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to maintain your tools. It’s also good to do for two separate reasons; to get clean cuts with your tools that lead to healthier plants, and also to make the pruning process go faster.
Why clean your shears and loppers?
When you cut any kind of plant, sap or resin will leak out of the plant and dry up on the surface. This essentially creates a shield that helps to protect the exposed area, speeding up the healing process which helps your plants grow more quickly. To make this process go faster, it’s vital that you get a clean cut so that there’s no debris on the exposed area that could prevent it from healing. A clean-cut will also ensure that the plant begins to grow again much sooner since there’s less chance of it being exposed to disease, insects and fungi.
In short, clean tools will lead to healthier plants and faster growth times. This is desirable if you’re maintaining your garden and plants, hence the importance of cleaning and sharpening your shears and loppers.
How to clean and sharpen your shears and loppers
Now let’s take a look at the steps involved in cleaning and sharpening your shears and loppers.
First, you’ll want to clean the tools with a bit of soapy water and a stiff brush. The brush should be used vigorously if there’s a lot of rust and dirt on the blades, but if they’re relatively new then you don’t want to be too harsh on them. If they’re new and have only been used a few times, then making sure you clean off the blade with some soapy water should be enough to keep them clean for a while. However, if they’re old, rusting and caked in dirt, then a thorough scrub will be needed.
Next, try and examine the sharpness of the blade. You may want to look at the manufacturer’s instructions (if they have any) or consider looking up a video tutorial. The correct sharpening angle is usually between 10 and 15 degrees, but this can change depending on the type of shears and loppers you have.
Once you’re ready to sharpen, you do have a couple of choices to pick from. The most common tool is a whetstone that comes in many different gradations and sizes. You’ll need to do your research because some whetstones may require lubrication, while others are fine being used with a bit of water.
To sharpen the blades themselves, you’ll want to start with a medium-grain whetstone that is thoroughly soaked in water or a lightweight oil. Maintain an angle and then press the blade against the concave side of the stone. Use smooth strokes in one direction to sharpen the blade towards the tip, but don’t press too hard. For every 10 strokes applied to the outer bevel, switch and do one stroke on the inner angle. Make sure you keep the stone wet with water or oil and continue to do this until the desired sharpness has been reached.
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