How to Clean and Sharpen Your Pruners

When it comes to pruning, there is nothing better than having a well maintained pair of pruners with a nice sharp blade. Quality pruners should last for years, and replacement parts are available for many brands. It is far easier to prune with sharp tools and it is well worth taking the time to clean and sharpen them. Not only will having sharp pruners reward you with easier cuts, but those cuts will heal better. Dull pruning tools are likely to crush or tear plant tissue, increasing the likelihood of infection from disease organisms. In the video below, Emma Erler, Education Center Coordinator, will show you step by step how to clean and sharpen your pruners.

Supplies

  • Steel wool
  • Wrench or multi-purpose tool
  • Multi-purpose diamond file(s)
  • General purpose oil (3-IN-ONE oil or mineral oil)
  • WD-40 for rust removal
  • Clean rag

Step by Step Directions

  1. If your pruners are easy to disassemble, start there. It is much easier to clean and sharpen a detached blade. Take pictures as you take apart your pruners to help you remember how to put them back together. Skip this step if your pruners do not come apart readily.

  2. Next, remove dirt and grime with warm, soapy water and a scrubby sponge.

  3. After wiping pruners dry, use coarse steel wool to work off any rust. If pruners are badly rusted apply WD-40 and let soak for 10 minutes. After soaking, remove oil with a clean cloth and use steel wool to get rid of remaining rust.

  4. Use a diamond file to sharpen the blade. Draw the file along the cutting edge of the blade, applying medium pressure. Be sure to set the file at the same angle as the factory beveled edge of the blade. Only sharpen in one direction starting at the inside of the blade and working outward.

  5. Once you’re satisfied the pruners are sharp, run a file with fine grit over the backside of the blade to remove any burrs.

  6. Reassemble your pruners, referring to the pictures you took earlier.

  7. Try cutting a piece of paper with the sharpened blade. If it makes a clean cut, the blade is adequately sharp.

  8. Finish by oiling your pruners to lubricate the moving parts and prevent the steel from rusting. Wipe off excess oil with a clean rag.

  9. Store your pruners in a clean and dry location.​