What do you see in this picture, besides a woman badly in need of a manicure? I’ll tell you: the first step in a great technique for sharpening your pruners.
I always used to find sharpening tools awkward. Then I saw landscape architect Paul Ehnes demonstrate his pruning wizardry – including his way to sharpen the blade. A light went on.
Don’t hold the blade away from you
Hold it toward you as if committing hari-kiri, the bevelled blade along your wrist, with the bevel, or angled edge, toward your thumb side, as so.
Then wield the sharpening stone in one direction only
Move from baby finger side to thumb side, with the flat of the stone angled to match the bevel.
If you’re lazy like me (Remember our father’s words: Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Or this paraphrase from FlyLady: Sharpening done incompletely still blesses your secateurs), you won’t have cleaned the blade with solvent beforehand to remove dirt, sap or rust. Therefore, you sharpening actions will make the bevel shine bright.
If you’ve been a good girl or boy and cleaned your tools last fall so the blade is already bright, one trick I’ve seen is to run a magic marker along the bevel and sharpen until the colour disappears.
For every ten or so swipes on the bevelled side, run one light one along the flipside of the blade
Again, move in one direction: towards the blade edge – to remove any rasp your efforts have created.
Test for sharpness by running your thumb gently across, never along, the blade.
But the first step is the correct stance. Practise it now.
(If you need them, I can try to add more step-by-step pictures later. If I can figure out how to focus and press the shutter with my nose while sharpening two-handedly. Or if I can get a little photographic assistance from someone who’d rather be reading the paper right now. TBD.)
Afterwards, we’ll move on to pruning that ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea that has become all floppy over winter. Now’s the time.