Tuesday, April 23, 2024

How To Sharpen Garden Shears For That Clean Cut

Nothing is worse than hitting the garden ready for pruning and realising that your essential cultivation tool is blunt.

Learning how to sharpen garden shears can be an absolute time saver that allows you to get that unruly bush time without any delays.

The step-by-step guide below will walk you through the process of how to sharpen garden shears quickly and efficiently to allow you to continue to get the most out of your favourite garden hand tool.

Table of Contents

Tools You Will Need

Before we start sharpening your hedge clippers, you will need the below hand tools when learning how to sharpen garden shears.

  • Metal file or Whetstone
  • WD-40 or similar lubricant
  • Fine steel wool
  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles
how to sharpen garden shears

Step By Step Guide On How To Sharpen Garden Shears  

The below is the best process I have found when sharpening my garden shears. However, this method can also be helpful on all bladed garden hand tools.

1) Cleaning

If your garden shears are like mine, they have years of earth and bark residue embedded in them. Giving them a good clean is the first step in the process.

Apply your rust remover (WD-40), which will help dissolve stubborn debris and make cleaning more manageable.

Use a coarse side of steel wool or your metal file to scrape away any rust or debris from the blades and pivot nut. Taking the time to thoroughly clean your shears ensures you start with a clean slate before sharpening.

2) Disassembling (if Necessary)

Disassembling some types of shears may be a good idea to access hard-to-reach areas and ensure thorough cleaning and sharpening.

I recommend doing this for hedging shears or sheep shears, where the pivot nut area can become clogged. Check your pivot nut and grab the correct hand tool to loosen it. This could either be a spanner or an Allen key. 

Always ensure that you do this safely, and if you’re unsure, check the manufacturer’s guidelines.

3) Determining the Sharpening Angle

You need to maintain the correct sharpening angle pre-sharpening to allow optimal sharpening. Whether you’re sharpening bypass pruners or hedging shears, matching the angle of the blade is super important.

Take your time to find the correct angle and mark it on the blade with a marker for reference. This step ensures that you maintain the original edge geometry of your shears for efficient cutting.

4) Sharpening the Blades

Now it’s time to sharpen those blades on your shears. Using your metal file or whetstone, carefully sharpen both sides of the blade, following the marked angle.

Start with the coarse side of the file to remove any nicks or dull spots, then switch to the finer side for smoothing and honing the edge. Take light, even strokes along the entire length of the blade to ensure uniform sharpening.

5) Even Sharpening

After sharpening the first side of the blade, it’s time to alternate sharpening strokes evenly on both sides. This ensures the blade maintains balance and edge consistency, resulting in smooth and efficient cutting.

Whether you’re working with bypass pruners or hedging shears, achieving an even sharpening is key to the overall effectiveness of your shears.

6) Fine-Tuning the Edge

Right, both sides of the blade are now lovely and sharp. It’s time to fine-tune the edge for even better cutting performance.

Use a finer grit sharpening stone or steel wool to remove any remaining burrs or rough spots from the blade. This allows your hedge clippers to make clean, precise cuts in your garden with minimal effort.

7) Checking and Adjusting

Before reassembling your shears, take a moment to check the sharpness and overall condition of the blades. Make any final adjustments to ensure the blades move smoothly and cut cleanly if necessary.

This is also an excellent time to apply a drop of oil to the pivot nut to lubricate the moving parts and prevent rust from forming.

8) Reassembling

It’s time to start reassembling your shears. The first job is ensuring all components are aligned correctly and securely tightened.

Pay close attention to where your pivot nut is. Make sure it’s properly lubricated and free from debris.

9) Maintenance and Storage

Your shears are now lovely and sharp. Think about how you want to maintain and store them moving forward.

Store them in a dry place to prevent rust and corrosion, and apply oil to the pivot nut periodically to keep the moving parts lubricated. Regular maintenance ensures that your shears will remain sharp and ready for light work whenever you need them.

how to sharpen garden shears

Varieties of Sharpening Equipment

Here’s a breakdown of the most common options when sharpening the majority of your bladed hand tools:


Whetstones are versatile and suitable for sharpening bladed hand tools like knives and secateurs. Remember to use the correct lubrication to avoid damaging the stone.

Some whetstones are double-sided, offering both coarse and fine grades of grit, and they should be used on a stable surface.

Diamond-Coated Sharpening Tools

These tools are coated with diamonds and come in various sizes, making them highly effective for sharpening on the go. Convenient for sharpening secateurs and knives, while diamond-coated files are suitable for maintaining more extensive garden tools like spades and hoes.

Sharpening Steels

Although commonly used for kitchen knives, gardening versions are designed to maintain your fleet of cultivation tools. The sharpening steels are particularly useful for honing edges to keep them sharp and efficient.


Metal files are an excellent choice when it comes to sharpening tools like spades and hoes. Opt for a file specifically designed for working with metal, as they can make quick work of sharpening tasks.

How Often Should You Sharpen Garden Shears?

Those garden hand tools that are frequently used but are properly maintained typically require sharpening approximately every two months.

An annual sharpening session may suffice for gardeners who dedicate around four hours per week to pruning. Sharpening hand pruners in decent condition typically takes just about 10 minutes. 


The simplest method on how to sharpen garden shears is using a tool like a file or sharpening stone. First, clean the shears to remove any dirt or debris.

Then, firmly grip the shears and run the sharpening tool along the blade, maintaining the original angle. Repeat this process until you achieve a sharp edge. Alternatively, you can use specialised sharpening devices designed specifically for garden shears for convenience and ease of use.

You can still sharpen garden shears using everyday household items if you need access to a dedicated sharpener. One method is to use a metal file, which effectively removes nicks and dull spots from the blade.

Another option is to use a whetstone, which can be lubricated with oil or water to provide a smooth, sharpening surface. Follow the same sharpening process as you would with a sharpener, ensuring you maintain the correct angle while sharpening.

Absolutely! Sharpening garden shears is worth the effort as it ensures clean and precise cuts, which are essential for maintaining the health and appearance of your plants.

Dull shears can crush stems rather than cut them cleanly, increasing the risk of disease and pest infestation. Regular sharpening extends the lifespan of your shears and makes gardening tasks more efficient and enjoyable.

The frequency of sharpening garden shears depends on how frequently you use them and the tasks they’re used for.

As a general rule of thumb, sharpening your shears at least once or twice a season or whenever you notice they need to cut more cleanly is recommended. Regular maintenance helps ensure that your shears remain optimal for all your gardening needs.

Several signs indicate your garden shears may need sharpening. If you notice that the shears are crushing rather than cleanly cutting through plant material, or if you must apply more force than usual to make a cut, the blades are likely dull.

You may also notice jagged or uneven cuts or that the shears get stuck or jammed during use. Regular inspection and maintenance can help you identify when to sharpen your shears for optimal performance.

How To Sharpen Garden Shears

Thank you for reading our article on how to sharpen garden shears. If you're looking for my DIY tips and advice for around the home, go check out our blog HERE for more valuable content.



I'm Chris, and my life revolves around two profound passions: embracing the joys of fatherhood with my energetic 2-year-old son and channelling my skills into transforming every nook and cranny of our home.
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