A Guide on What to Use to Sharpen Garden Shears, Pruners, Scissors, Shovels and More
Ok, we’ve all experienced it. Excited to clip those new flowers or that just ripened vegetable, you anticipate the clip, excited and ready to go for it, and with a squeeze of the hand, bleh. The stem mushes in your blades or fails to cleanly cut. Our tools enhance the pleasure of gardening, and having sharpened, clean blades can enhance the gardening experience and speed with which we glide through our rows or throughout our landscape.
So what is the best tool to sharpen a gardening tool? There are a number of garden tool sharpening tools and techniques, and below is a list:
The old standby: the rusty file. You can use any fine file to sharpen large blade tools like shovels, hoes, weeders, lawnmower blades and more. Note: this is will not produce the sharpest edge, but will remove rust and get rid of the dull edge on large tools.
The Rotary Tool
Rotary tools are a great power tool for general garden sharpening and maintenance. They are relatively inexpensive and can do rough sharpening, and fine blade sharpening as well.
The Diamond Stone
Diamond stones are a great multi-purpose sharpener for a variety of garden tools. You can use them once you have a dull blade, and have removed any rust. They have a fine and coarse side typically, and can help you hone a nice edge on any tool.
These paddles arelight and portable. They usually come in a set, and are portable. They are typically used for touchup after initial tool sharpening and maintenance, and are quite handy. See our Garden Tool Sharpening Kit
The angle grinder, aka “the beast”, is a great tool for quickly getting through rust and steel on large gardening tools. Shovels, hoes, lawnmower blades are no match for this tool.
So how do you use these tools? Subscribe for follow on posts on how to use them to sharpen all you 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:
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, see our diamond sharpening paddles that provide a quick and easy way to sharpen your tools.
Garden Tool Set Buying Guide
How do you pick the best set of gardening tools? With so much junk out there in the market, choosing a set of garden tools that will last and provide years of service out in the garden can be a daunting task. Especially if it is a gardening gift for a special person in your life. Here is a quick guide to finding quality gardening hand tool sets online, and making an informed choice when you go to buy.
How to Examine the Garden Tools Construction
- The Tool Handle – gardening tools need to be comfortable when working in the hot sun, and we prefer wood handled tools, hands down. If you take care of a nice set of wood handled garden tools, they will last you years. No plastic in the garden!!! Plastic handles will fade to ugly in the sun, have reduced strength and will easily crack over time or if the hand tool is left in the garden.
- The Tool’s Working End – stainless steel is the way to go here. Soil, sun and water are rough on a garden tool’s surface, and plain steel or cheap painted metal tool heads will rust and fade over time. A stainless tool that cleaned after being used in the garden will provide a gardener solid years of service.
- The Tool’s Collar – Make sure that the collar of the tool, or where the tip of the tool enters the handle is also stainless steel. Many cheap tools have flimsy, weak metal collars that either rust, or come loose over time to contribute to tool failure.
- Welds – Make sure the tool doesn’t have point welds. Welding points on the metal connection points should be continuous, and bigger than just a small point.
What Tools Do I Need?
As a gardener and farmer, I cannot carry all the tools in my shed: i need to have a garden tool set that provides me all the functionality I need when doing my chores in the field or garden (By the way, our gardener’s apron will provide more carrying capacity for all your garden tools ;). ). So how do I choose? Here is the perfect set of gardening tools:
- The Hand Trowel – okay, it’s a little shovel. The garden hand trowel is the most used tool, and can provide most gardener’s a ton of use in the garden setting.
- The Hand Cultivator – the hand rake. This tool provides great function as a garden tool, and allows for moving soil and mulch in the bed, weeding and loosening of the soil surface.
- The Garden Scoop – The final member of our garden tool team is the garden scoop. Man we looked far and wide for this one, and use it constantly. Scoop soil, seed and fertilizer with out spilling. The member of the garden tool set is great for potting and digging large scoops, and will become a favorite.
And oh yeah, one last thing. You have to look good in the garden. Stainless and wood tools are timeless, and fun to use, and aesthetically pleasing. Don’t get caught with cheap tools :). To see our hand-picked garden tool set, click below:
Call Them Garden Scissors, Secateurs or Snips
Ok, I have to admit, when I first used them out in our fields, I felt kind of funny. It’s like bringing a steak knife out to do cut lavender, right? Were they really up to the demands of the flower farm? We decided to evaluate a bunch of different garden scissors to find a set of these so called garden secateurs to see which ones we would put in our gardening tools section of our store. We used them to snip, cut, and prune. We ended up with a stainless steel garden snip that had a smooth action, was light and had nice small handles. Why stainless? Other garden scissors we tested (the black metal ones), rusted when they got wet, and became stiff, and did not fare well in the garden and farm environment. We love these scissors, for the following reasons:
- They are beautiful. You have to look stylish when out and about 😉
- The scissors are easy to hold and manipulate. When out in the fields, you need to be able to maneuver and snip at odd angles.
- They are light. If you spend hours in the garden clipping, your hands can get tired from using the wrong, heavy garden pruners.
- They remain sharp. Stainless steel scissors don’t rust and remain sharp even after snipping flower after flower, or stem after stem.
- They fit perfectly in our apron. What good are garden pruner/snips if you can’t have them with you all the time. They fit perfectly in our garden apron.
Check out these great snips for yourself or a garden gift recipient and enjoy them today.
Read more about the best gardening tools and gifts here on our site or in our shop.