Loomis Flower Farm Shop

Garden Tool Maintenance

sharpening scissors

How to Sharpen Scissors

Sharpening Scissors the Right Way

We all have them. We all tolerate them. That old pair of scissors that are so dull they bend the paper. In the garden, dull garden scissors or snips can leave wounds that can risk the health of your prize plants. If you knew how easy it was to sharpen them, you’d kick yourself. So let’s take a quick peek and the steps to sharpen scissors, and get them a sharp cutting edge. Fortunately, this technique can be used over and over to sharpen not only all your scissors, but you can sharpen garden snips, secateurs, loppers, and all your other dual blade tools with nearly the same sharpening technique.

What You’ll need:

  • Diamond Stones (I like Diamond Paddles)
  • Water or Honing Oil
  • A rag
  • Paper for sharpened cut testing
  • A screwdriver (If your scissors have a screw)
  • A permanent marker (optional)

So, there are a ton of options for actual scissor sharpening when it comes to tools. But I like simple, and diamond stone paddles are my favorite. They come in a set of 3 usually, coarse, medium and fine, and can be used not only to sharpen your scissors, but other tools in your garden shed or shop. And they are relatively cheap and take up minimal space. You can also throw them in your pocket, or garden apron, for access out in the wild.

You can use these diamond stone scissor sharpeners dry or wet, and the debate is out on which is better, but i like to use just a little water on the stone, and it seems to help sharpen and keep the stone clean as steel comes off the blade.

Scissor Sharpening Steps

If your scissors have a screw, taking them apart during the sharpening processes can be quite helpful, and you can get access to the full blade. If not you will have to open them fully to get the blades.

Sharpening the scissor blades is a two step process, and it’s important to do both sides of each scissor blade during sharpening.

How to sharpen scissor blades
Sharpen the backside of the scissors flat until you see the metal.

Take the permanent marker and run it along the front blade of the scissor. This will give you a reference and make sure you have sharpened the entire blade of the scissors.

I start with the back of the scissor blade, or the flat side. The goal here is to remove any burs (very fine), get rid of any rust that has accumulated, and make the edge totally flat. Put the scissors on the edge of a table or bench and run the stone over the scissor blade in a flat, sweeping motion. If should just need a few swipes with the fine paddle, but if there is rust or divots you may need to use the coarse paddle to remove more material. Once you have shiny metal on the blades edge, clean up with your towel and flip to the other side.

Sharpening scissors by hand
Sharpen the scissors until a clear edge is shown.

Now, let’s talk about how scissors work. They actually shear whatever you are cutting between the contact point, so the angle is very abrupt at the tup of the blade. As we sharpen the scissor blade edge, it will only be about 10 degrees off perpendicular to the bevel side. This seems counter intuitive, and most folks try and sharpen at the bevel angle. You can put the scissor blade in a vise, or hold it securely in your hand, and run the paddle from inside out across the blades edge. A few passes should put a shiny edge on your blades.

to sharpen blades of scissors
Angle your diamond paddle at about 10-20 degrees for a fine scissor edge

Try and cut the paper. A fine blade should cut with out effort, and you should be able to “push” the open blade across the paper, cutting with ease. If you can’t, rinse and repeat.

So that’s it, plain and simple. If you are like me,, you will go on a sharpening binge and sharpen all the scissors in your house garage and even your neighbor’s.

Garden tool maintenance

Care and Maintenance of Garden Tools

Cleaning, Sharpening and Protecting Your Gardening Tools

Ok, we are all guilty of leaving a tool or two dirty or dull. Who wants to do maintenance of garden tools when there are plants to tend? The fact is that gardening tools need love and care, just like flowers and vegetables, and if you neglect them, they will either break, or make your gardening experience less than optimal. So how often do you need to maintain those garden tools? Well, at least at the start and end of the season, but if you are like us on the farm, with heavy garden tool use, you should do it weekly or at least twice per month. So what is required? See below, and note, for convenience, at the end of the post are picture links to the Amazon products I used.

Clean Your Garden Tools

A brisk cleaning of your garden tools can be done after every outing. Leaving dirt caked on the tool and handle invites rust and decay. You can wash them with a hose and remove all dirt, but you can also wash them with a brush and some mild detergent. Dry them with a towel and let them sit in the shade to dry.

Removing Rust from Garden Tools

Rust is the devil when it comes to garden tools, and unfortunately, they live in the perfect environment for this killer: heat, water and dirt. The best way to keep rust at bay is proper storage and a daily cleaning. If rust prevails, get out some steel wool and start scrubbing. The rust should come off with a few strokes. You can also apply some light oil or WD40 to loosen the rust. Be sure and wipe your tools clean when done.

Taking Care of Garden Tool Handles

The garden is harsh on steel, but even more harsh on wood handled tools. If you are like us, you love your wood handles, and probably don’t tend to them as often as you should. If you have neglected your handles over time, fear not, a little sand paper can take away the greyness of time, and help to restore the beauty of the wood. Wooden handles require an oil like boiled linseed oil for protection. Apply the oil to the handle and let it soak up the love. All wood handles can take an application, even your Hori Hori Garden Tool. WARNING: Read the label on linseed oil rags, and do not leave them out and about when done, they generate great heat as they dry and can combust! Take it from someone who experienced this first hand.

Sharpening Garden Tools

If you have ever dug with a dull shovel, or tried to prune a tree with dull garden scissors, you know it just makes the job harder. Tools can be sharpened with a variety of methods, outlined below:

  • With a nice metal file
  • With a Dremel Tool
  • Using a grinder or grinding wheel
  • With diamond stone sharpeners
  • With a Whetstone

You don’t need something fancy, a simple sharpener with do, and there are different methods for each tool (standby for focused posts on Sharpening Your Garden Tools).

For convenience, click the picks below to buy yourself a little cleaning kit for the season (Linseed Oil, Diamond Sharpening Paddles, Steel Wool and a Dremel Sharpener):

Loading cart ...
Skip to toolbar