THE MODERN MINT BLOG
We often get asked – how do I sharpen my shears? In this blog, we will give you simple to follow instructions on exactly how to do it. But first, you have to have the right shears and the right equipment….
Our hedge shears of choice are these red and white handled ones from Japan.
They look the bees knees. And they are. The steel is incredible, meaning it is sharp enough to cut the vegetation you want cut down. Because the steel is so good, you can also sharpen it back to factory sharpness. Cheap steel, once blunted, stays blunt.
A waste of money.
It took about ten years of gardening before I took the plunge and spent my money on these. Now, of course, I can’t go back to using anything else. Working for a landscaper back in early March this year, I picked up another pair of shears from a colleague as they happened to be next to me at the time. I began to use them to cut down a Miscanthus and they felt awful….! Every cut was a fight with the plant, stems got bruised instead of clipped, the tool felt like they would break and my wrists and arms had to work hard to make anything happen.
It would have taken less energy to walk back to the van and pick my own Japanese shears up. That will teach me…
The balance and weight of these shears is amazing – if you’re wondering if they are too heavy, it really is useful to meet Modern Mint at a fair somewhere and test them out for yourself – here is where you can find us.
We will say thee shears are not gender specific – we have sold more to women over the last few years than we have to men. The amazing lightness and balance of these shears make them ideal for anyone, and because they cut so cleanly they make lighter work of your topiary or mixed hedges.
How To Sharpen Your Shears
Finally, we get to the important bit. How to sharpen them. First of all, get a whetstone – we prefer the traditional Japanese whetstone as it doesn’t tear the steel of the blades. You can use a diamond sharpener, but just be gentle….
1) Make sure the whetstone is wet. 30 seconds in water or under a tap should soak it.
2) Move any part of the stone gently across the edge of the blade – whether shears or secateurs. I use a small, circular motion. Others use a forward and back motion, so the stone comes towards your body and then away from your body.
3) Move along the blade. If you feel the stone drying, dip it into water or under a tap again.
4) If you do this for a couple of minutes you will see a line of fresh steel along the blade. The more you do it, the better your eye will be at discerning when the blade is sharp. It does take a little practise, and also time… but the results are always better!
5) Turn the blade over – there will be a burr on its backside. Run the whetstone along this side of the blade once or twice, from bottom to top, to remove the burr (and any sap or stone that is left on this side of the blade.)
6) A little squeeze of oil onto the blades, then wiped with a cloth, will keep it in great condition.
The oil should last a long time as you don’t need much of it. (Though I now use it on other tools as well, so do get through it a bit quicker!)
Again, this is the traditional oil made form camellia, that they use in Japan, but nay oil will do. I just happen to like tradition.
There you go – a short tutorial on how to sharpen your shears.
Any questions please do contact us, otherwise enjoy your shears and the clipping you will do!
I recently wrote a piece for Topiarius magazine, the flagship publication of the European Boxwood & Topiary Society – of which Modern Mint is both a member and big supporter. Check out the EBTS here. They frequently run courses and talks too, so worth keeping an eye on. Below is the piece I wrote about the tools I use when making topiary and pruning trees…. Darren’s Piece In Topiarius Magazine I use Okatsune Secateurs, which I started pruning with when working on a large orchard in Hampshire. My Felco’s were too difficult to open with cold hands, but the chunky …
Just inc are you are free in the following dates in June, you can visit my mentor Charlotte Molesworth’s topiary garden… Check out the dates the garden is open here. And you can of course join both Charlotte and I for a topiary workshop in the garden in July, as well as September. Hope to see you there!
The Nunki weeder has been talked about by Jane Perrone in the newspaper (the Guardian, if you are interested. At the weekend.) She said this about our lovely weeding tool… “Getting on top of annual weeds such as hairy bittercress and speedwell can be tedious. The Nunki weeder has a curved blade that allows for precision work around plants….” There you go – a weeder for precision work, not an avocado destoner as someone once said to me. Take a closer look at the Nunki weeder now.