How to Sharpen Secateurs

This tool does the job in less than 20 seconds

By Daniel Woodley at DIY Gardening

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Hello, my name is Daniel Woodley, and I’m the co-owner and contributor here at DIY Gardening.

In this blog post, I’ll show you how to sharpen secateurs.

I used to sharpen my secateurs with a large whetstone, and that involved dismantling the snips, cleaning them and then rubbing the edge of the blade onto the oiled stone.

The entire process was quite a pulava and totally unnecessary.

I Then Came Across Sharpal

Made from tungsten carbide, this piece of equipment is perfect for me because:

  • It’s small and compact.
  • There’s no need to apply oil or water.
  • It has a sharp, flat side for smoothing out dents and grooves.
  • There’s also a fine honing edge for the final sharpening.
  • There’s no need to take the secateurs apart.

There are currently over 1900 reviews on Amazon and 83% of them rated Sharpal 4 or 5 stars.

Use a Whetstone if You Prefer

If you prefer to use a traditional whetstone, go ahead, just make sure it’s soaked in water or has oil applied to the surface, as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.

You’ll probably need a double-sided whetstone with a coarse side and a fine side.

I prefer this Sharpal tool as it’s so small, I can get it right into the middle of the secateurs but there are other similar tools out there and whetstones work well too.

How to Sharpen Secateurs in Less Than 20 Seconds

You should only ever sharpen the bevelled (angled) edge of the blade.

If you sharpen the flat side, it will ruin the secateurs.

A few passes won’t do any harm, but the repeated sharpening of the flat side will cause a gap to appear, and you’ll then tear rather than cut, the stems.

If the blade on your secateurs has two bevelled edges, go ahead and sharpen both.

Also, note that the Sharpal tool has two 90° angles at one end of the device and a rounded angle at the opposite end.

The 90° angles are sharp and are best used to remove dents and obvious imperfections.

The rounded end is used for honing and final sharpening:

Sharpal 105N tool

Step 1: Clean The Secateurs

A quick soak in washing up liquid and a rub down with the coarse back of a sponge is usually enough to remove sap and other contaminants but if you’re in a hurry or there’s too much for a sponge to remove, just use some fairly fine sandpaper to grind it off.

Step 2: Hold the Secateurs Like This

The best way to securely hold the secateurs is to turn them upside down and place one thumb on the outside, three fingers in the middle and one finger on the opposite side.

Make sure the bevelled (angled) side of the blade is facing upwards.

Here’s how I hold them:

How to hold secateurs when sharpening

Step 3: Use the Edge of Sharpal to Sharpen the Secateurs

Whilst securely holding the secateurs, slide the sharp edge of the Sharpal tool along the entire length of the bevelled blade in one sweeping motion.

Try to maintain the angle of the existing blade and avoid rubbing too shallow or steep.

Start by applying light pressure until you are familiar with the motion then apply moderate pressure until you can see the bevelled edge looking noticeably sharper and any obvious dents or imperfections have been removed.

Sharpal edge

Step 4: Use the Honing Edge

The honing edge of the Sharpal tool is perfect for finishing off the sharpening and achieving a razor finish.

Use the rounded honing edge in a sweeping motion from the inner end of the blade to the outer edge until sharp.

Step 5: Scrape Off The Burr

The burr is the metal fragments that are removed from the blade, and some will fall on the floor, some will stick to the Sharpal tool, and some will stick to the blade.

Removing the burr from the blade is easy, just turn the secateurs over and, using the sharp side of the blade, scrape off the burr as lightly as possible, making sure the tool is placed as flat as possible on the blade.

You don’t want to sharpen this side of the blade, so apply just enough pressure to remove the burr, preferably in just one sweeping movement.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Sharpening Secateurs

Here are a few do’s and don’ts, they apply to the Sharpal tool and whetstones in general.

  • Apply light to moderate pressure.
  • Use a sweeping motion across the entire blade.
  • Use the sharp edge on dents.
  • Use the honing edge to finish off the sharpening.
  • Scrape off the burr lightly.
  • Apply too much pressure.
  • Rub repeatedly over one area and not the entire length.
  • Sharpen the flat side of the blade.
  • Sharpen too often; every few weeks is fine for most gardeners.

Comparing Sharpal to a Whetstone

The sharp edge of the Sharpal is perfect for removing dents and other imperfections that are caused by the user cutting hard stems and wires etc.

Personally, I think it’s great not just for secateurs but also for axes and lawnmower blades.

That said, it is brutal to the metal, and I wouldn’t use it on my best set of kitchen knives where I feel a whetstone would do a better job of creating a razor-sharp finish.

If you want to use a whetstone on a set of secateurs, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one small enough to squeeze into the centre of the blades where most of the wear and tear is located. Also, you’ll need two whetstones or a double-sided one so you can grind and hone the blade.

For me, the Sharpal is the best option and I’m pleased with the results on my secateurs as you can see from the video and photos.

Specifications:

Pen length: 235mm

Pen width: 22mm

Tip length: 20mm

Tip width: 10mm

Tip thickness: 5mm

Tip material: Tungsten carbide

Weight: 54g

Life expectancy: 10,000 strokes

Buy on Amazon

This tungsten carbide secateur sharpener is available from Amazon and other well-known retailers.

  • Small and compact.
  • No need to apply oil or water.
  • It has a sharp, flat side for smoothing out dents and grooves.
  • There’s also a fine honing edge for the final sharpening.
  • There’s no need to take the secateurs apart.

There are currently over 1900 reviews on Amazon and 83% of them rated Sharpal 4 or 5 stars.

More From Daniel Woodley

This guide to sharpening secateurs was created by Daniel Woodley and was posted to our blog on the 20th of November, 2021.

Daniel is a keen gardener who enjoys growing ornamental plants, propagating and growing from seed.

He also enjoys climbing, mountain walks and the great outdoors.

More About Daniel Woodley.

You may also like our guide to the best secateurs.

Daniel Woodley

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