Since spring is around the corner and pome/stone/small fruits, brambles and other vegetation needs pruning, now is the opportune time to sharpen your shears before the onslaught of chores begin. Whether you have a crosscut, anvil, ratchet pruning shear or all three, disassemble, remove the rust, or if you’re not mechanically inclined to reassemble them, just give it a good overall cleaning before sharpening. Once cleaned, use a small mill file to sharpen the cutting blade and give it a final honing with an oil stone.
I use a hand-held 7” triangular file because it’s easy to manage, and I can see the bevel which I’m filing. I do not own an electric powered sharpener, or grinding wheel because I like to sharpen them by hand; it’s easier for me to gauge the amount of metal that I’m filing. I originally learned how to sharpen tools by using a grinding wheel on the blades of planes, chisels and other implements at my high school’s woodworking department, and later at a woodworking shop where I apprenticed for a couple of years. Although I can still use the grinding wheel if need to, I prefer sharpening my tools with a file.
When sharpening implements with high powered electrical gadgets, make sure to align the cutting edge with its bevel and don’t get the metal too hot, which will ruin the temper of the steel.
This past Sunday I spend most of the day at the Connecticut Flower Show in Hartford, looked at several types of pruning shears and reinforced my belief that buying good quality and taking care of them properly saves money, time and aggravation in the long run.
As it happened, yesterday was a warm day for February, and my pome trees, grape arbor, blueberries, raspberries, currant, gooseberries and others needed pruning, and having sharpened my tools, I was ready to attack my chores with enthusiasm.
Don’t wait too long to prune apples, pears, small fruits and brambles, but wait for stone fruits until they’re plumped or just before bloom, and sometime after bloom.
Take a look at the March/April issue of the Connecticut Gardener, which features one of my articles on MASTERING YOUR VEGETABLE GARDEN.
Nick Mancini, the organic Italian