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!

Mar15

Topiary Provocation For Garden Designers

snow topiary

I am running a ‘Topiary Provocation’ for garden designers, via Zoom, over the next few weeks. Dates are: Tuesday 23rd March, 10am Wednesday 24th March 7.30pm Thursday 8th April, 7.30pm The ‘provocation’ is for garden designers anywhere in the world, is free to join and will last about 45 minutes. Places are limited to 12 per session, as I want to make sure we can share ideas about topiary and how it can be used (and managed) in a modern garden – especially if skill level and maintenance time is low. I hope that I can provoke a discussion around …

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Mar15

Talk By The Team At Waltham Place

waltham place

A talk by the team at Waltham Place is being given on April 14th 2021, at 2.15pm. Tickets are free and it is via Zoom. Get Your Free Ticket I am hosting, the talk is set up by the European Boxwood & Topiary Society and it promises to be an extraordinary hour looking at one of my absolute favourite gardens of all time. (Designed by one of my favourite garden writer’s….) Brilliant topiary and a philosophy of gardening that puts wildlife first, I absolutely cannot wait for this talk… do join in and book your free ticket. Get A Waltham …

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Mar15

Alternatives To Boxwood For Hedges

organic topiary blob

Alternatives to boxwood are hard to come by – nothing has the small, easy to clip, reflective leaf of a boxwood shrub. But as we reach April and the boxwood caterpillar begins to wake up, hungry to defoliate our boxwood topiaries and hedges, you may wonder what plant you can use as a replacement in the garden should the worst happen – and the caterpillar destroys all! (For more information on the boxwood caterpillar, visit the European Boxwood & Topiary Society website. Their research and hard work has meant all is not lost in the fight to rid the UK …

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