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 of 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 up my own Japanese shears (that will teach me for being lazy…)

Hedge Shears 2 Gallery Image

 

The balance and weight of these shears is amazing – but if you’re wondering if they are too heavy, it really is useful to come to one of my talks and try them for yourself.

If you can’t get to meet mean person somewhere, then I  will say this… these shears are not gender specific – if anything, 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 it is likely to tear the steel so yo must be so so gentle….

Sharpening Stone Box Gallery Image

1) Make sure the whetstone is wet. At least 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 wipe it clean with a cloth, will keep the steel your tools 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 used in Japan, made from camellia, but any oil will do (including olive!)

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!

Sep29

New Topiary In South London Out Of Yew

Making a new topiary out of the large, dull facade of a Taxus blob… My work was to change it up from a ‘jelly drop’ shape and give it texture, open it out and let the light through, and make it a sculptural feature in the background of the garden in summer… yet a major part of the garden in winter. A few more years before it becomes something special, but there was far more leaf and growth inside the plant than I thought and so it will not take too long for it to gain in character and become …

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Sep27

Topiary Teacher – Put on The Spot!

topiary teacher

Two weeks ago I was invited to teach topiary at the garden of Griselda Kerr, the author of The Apprehensive Gardener. I love teaching and sharing skills, but I was placed on the spot in the afternoon and asked to show how I would make a new topiary from an existing shrub. So below is a speeded-up video of me creating a cloud-pruned topiary from an old boxwood tree. I particularly love the ending when the class get involved….! See the video here. One hour was all it took, and though it needed a little tidying-up, it was made by …

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Sep27

Book Yourself A Topiary Workshop 2022

organic topiary snow

Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor, and I are running our popular topiary workshop again in 2022. You can email me for details – or go here for information, your ticket and to find out about dates. Book A Spot On A Topiary Workshop, September 2022