THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Oct06

How To Sharpen Shears

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….

 

shears gifts

 

Our hedge shears of choice are these red and white handled ones from Japan.Hedge Shears Featured Image

 

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…

Hedge Shears 2 Gallery Image

 

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….

Sharpening Stone Box Gallery Image

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.

camellia-oil-featured-image

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!

Mar19

Wasting Water

Well worth a read in the BBC today – a note on how wasting water in the UK “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby.” Read the report here. I have written a talk about how we use water in the  garden. It was written when I moved from Hampshire to Essex and found out for myself just how dry this area of the UK is. It completely changed the way I garden. The lack of such a precious resource as water made me question what we can do to save it, store it and …

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Mar14

The Foie Gras That Tastes Like Nature

Ethical Foie Gras? Is That A Real Thing?   Foie gras – can it be ‘grown’ ethically? The video showing how this farmer works suggests it can… We first read about this in a book called The Third Plate by Dan Barber. I loved it and I love how Eduardo the farmer, who farms on the Dehesa in Spain, has a ‘take half leave half rule’. When talking about how the geese eat his olives… “They’re always quite fair. If you make sure the geese are relaxed and happy, you’ll be rewarded with the gift of fatty livers. That is God’s …

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Mar04

Hardy Orchids Via James Wong

Hardy orchids – here is a subject I would love to know more about – so lo and behold, James Wong has written about it in the Guardian! Read the article about hardy orchids here. I love having orchids in the house, just your usual run of the mill buy them in any shop orchids, but it is a pleasure to read about the plants that will grow outside and cope with this weather. (This insane weather! From the hottest days of February on record to Storm Freya, all within a week. Weather is always such a factor in gardening, but …

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