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!
On Monday night I gave a talk to the Hardy Plant Society Middlesex. Below are a few links for further information based on some of the ideas discussed in the talk: Real Seeds – a fantastic supplier of fruit and vegetable seeds for growers. Boxwood Caterpillar Advice – from the European Boxwood & Topiary Society. I will also write a little companion piece this winter with more information and some topiary techniques, so watch out for that on this website. Boxwood Lure & Nematodes – my preferred option for dealing with the caterpillar. Discount code for 10% off is EBTSBOX29GBZ …
Some recent work over the last year or so, clipping boxwood and holly hedges, yew topiary on top and fun, organic shapes. Contact me if you need some topiary clipping and we can chat about the possibilities. Darren