Lookin’ Sharp – How to Keep Your Garden Tools Clean and Sharpened (Video)

by Genevieve on May 3, 2009

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Wrapping up our series on the hand tools we use most in gardening, I want to show you my favorite sharpening tool, the Speedy Sharp, and how to use it to sharpen your pruning shears and your soil knife or hori-hori:

Now, if you prefer to use a file to sharpen your shears, Fine Gardening has a good article about it. They suggest using warm, soapy water and a scrubby to remove the sap and buildup on your pruners – I prefer to just use oil or WD-40 with my scrubby, but using soapy water should be fine as long as you are careful not to get water into the moving parts, and you make sure you oil your pruners thoroughly after cleaning and sharpening them.

If you want to know how to tackle your dirty, dull shovels, spading forks, etc, here’s another good article from Fine Gardening magazine that will show you how. (Don’t look at the photo of him using a stone to sharpen his pruning shears – his text is correct, but that one photo could be misleading. I think he’s merely removing the burrs from the flat side of his pruner blade, not sharpening that side!)

speedy cardLastly, Speedy Sharp has a diagram about how to sharpen using a Speedy  Sharp, including how to sharpen serrated blades (Hori-Hori owners, this one’s useful for you!). If you read the different sharpening articles, you’ll notice how many fewer strokes you need to make with a speedy sharp than with a file. I couldn’t believe the difference myself.


Buy the Speedy Sharp at my gardening store

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin May 3, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Wow! So helpful, thank you. I actually sat in front of the computer with my hori hori and Speedy Sharp!

Erin’s last blog post..No room at the inn


Genevieve May 3, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Yay, Erin!! So glad I could be helpful – pays you back for the excellent idea in your latest post, of trying to figure out if I can coordinate some kind of bulk perennial plug-buying in my community.


Town Mouse May 3, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Thanks I needed to read that. Better get one of those things and finally get serious about sharpening my tools!

Town Mouse’s last blog post..Pursuit of the Perfect Pollinator Post


Anna/Flowergardengirl May 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Genevieve, remember when you did the post about pruning roses? That was a huge help to me and I purchased some David Austin’s cause you made me feel confident. So here you giving me some more good advice and thank you.

Anna/Flowergardengirl’s last blog post..Rhodies


Monica May 4, 2009 at 5:21 am

Gen, great info and I see your knee pads! When making outdoor audio recordings of frogs, my friend noticed that having a foam microphone cover reduced wind noises and other stuff amplified in the recording. :)


Genevieve May 4, 2009 at 7:11 am

Hi Town Mouse! Glad that was helpful!
Anna, how awesome that you’ve gotten some David roses! That’s excellent, they really are the only ruffly roses I recommend for coastal climes.
Monica, thank you SO much for the tip! I have one of those flip recorders, but I wonder if I could tape a small flat piece of foam over the microphone hole. I’ll play with that.


Erin May 5, 2009 at 5:48 am

Do you mind if I put a link to this post/video on my blog?

Erin’s last blog post..That’s Hackenackaloa to you!


Genevieve May 5, 2009 at 7:29 am

Hey Erin, I’d be totally delighted if you’d link to me! Thank you very much! I’m honored.


tom | tall clover farm May 12, 2009 at 8:50 am

I recently discovered the Henckels twinsharp knife sharpener for the kitchen, and now that I’ve learned about speedy sharp for the garden, my honing education is complete. No whole onions or gangly tall roses bushes at my address. Thanks for the tip!

tom | tall clover farm’s last blog post..Sprouting Broccoli: It’s a Keeper


Debbie R May 13, 2009 at 3:26 pm

I am always amazed at how quickly my garden tools become dull. I had been using one of my husband’s power tools to sharpen my garden tools but the whole process just seemed like such an ordeal that I would put it off longer than I probably should have. I love the idea of the Speedy Sharp – I can carry it around the garden with me and use it quickly as needed.

Debbie R’s last blog post..A Hummingbird Cafe


shar pau May 15, 2009 at 1:33 pm

I was so very pleased to see and hear how to sharpen MY Loppers as well as other tools I know that the Speedy Sharp will benifit. I am so greatful to have some one like Genevieve to show us how to use these tools as well as how to care for the tools we have.!
Thank You GEN.
Sharon P from


Jill Szczygiel December 2, 2010 at 10:01 am

Very cool website! Greetings from Trinidad where it is too wet for gardening. While I wait for the sun I am enjoying your website. Thanks for the cool sharpening tips!


Billy August 26, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Great Post! We just got a speedy sharp here but we haven’t had a chance to try it out yet. I also have some bonsai style shears that I hope to sharpen up very soon.


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