As a certified arborist and self-proclaimed tree nerd, I always keep my pruning tools in good working order, and with hand pruners, this means keeping them sharp. A sharp pair of hand pruners makes cleaner cuts that heal more efficiently, resulting in a healthier plant better able to fight disease, insect infestation, and natural stresses with strength and vigor.
I find the best way to sharpen pruners is with diamond files. I prefer them to whetstones because they are easy to use, even for a novice. You’ll need three levels of coarseness (known as grits): coarse, fine, and extrafine. The files are inexpensive and will last longer than your pruners.
Well-used but well-maintained pruners should only need sharpening every six weeks. For gardeners who spend barely four hours a week pruning, one good sharpening a year may be adequate.
It takes only about 10 minutes to sharpen hand pruners in relatively good condition. The more regularly you maintain your pruners, the faster the sharpening chore goes. And keep in mind that learning how to sharpen hand pruners is not rocket science. It just takes a little patience and practice.