Pruning cuts, how to sharpen and useful bits n bobs. part 3

Sorry it’s been a while since the last part was published, this 3rd part is looking at one of the most important section of pruning, sharpening your secateurs, all the other sundries that I use to keep my equipment working well and also any little extra things I find useful little aids both for getting to the plants and making my life easier.

Sharpening is an easy job to do if you keep on top of it. Getting the right sharpening stone is always important and for years I used oil stones but they are dirty and oily. Getting of great quality wet stones that use water for lubricant during sharping was pretty hard until Niwaki released their water stones a few years ago. The concave bottom is ideal for guiding over the edge of the secateurs at the right angle and keeping them sharp. These water stones just need to be soaked in water for 10minutes and then dipped in during use nice and easy and clean.

when sharpening its well worth holding the secateurs nice and firmly like this

To get the angle right I just line it up with the exact angle it’s been made at

I made a small video showing how you use the concave edge on the sharpening stone to follow the edge on the secateurs

It is also a good idea to use the flat side of the sharpening stone on the other side of the blade to take off any blurs and unevenness you may have. Instead of going in flat, go at a slight angle as this will a stronger axe shape cutting edge that will hold its edge for a little longer

Then just test it to make sure they are sharp enough, here’s a leaf I am cutting though

Generally speaking I use the 1000 grade stone to keep an edge and the 220 if I manage to hit wire or needs a heavier sharpen.

It’s worth sharpening them after about half a days pruning, you will be surprised how quick it is to do. To test how sharp they are, either try shaving your arm or the safer action of cutting a leaf in half!

I do have a few bits n bobs I use

1) is my peak cap, this is ideal to stop or slow down branches hitting you in the face or if you are lucky like me and going thin on top, protects your head from thorns. Also useful in shading eyes from the sun when it’s shining in your eyes

2) first aid kit! Accidents happen and it’s best to be prepared in case it does, loads of different shape plasters and eye wash is ideal as are a fine pair of twizzers to get out fine thorns

3) my small bag, this is ideal for holding secateurs and string if I am pruning in the summer and wearing shorts and Tshirt, also ideal for holding string when I have nowhere else to put it.

4 + 7) camellia oil, I wish it was for my hair but those days are long gone! I use this Niwaki product to oil my secateurs and other hand tools. I like using the more natural product than oil and find this idea for use. Number 7 is the applicator for applying it to the blade

5) Trust Jake at Niwaki to be the first to bring out a double holster that holds both secateurs and pruning saw. Simply ideal if I am not wearing my Genus trousers with their knife proof saw and secateur pockets. You can buy a handy clip to easily add it to your belt too.

6) cleen me, ok sadly the translation from Japanese to English went a little wrong but the cleen block is great to remove sap and dirt from your secateurs, add a little camellia oil and it will remove most stubborn sap deposits, again another excellent Niwaki product

8) nutscene twine. At this moment of time, reducing use of plastics is a big thing, nutscene is a great natural product made in Scotland and it the only thing I use to tie up plants, no need for rubber or plastic ties

One thing I left off is eye protection, when pruning, you should really wear safety eye wear to protect your eyes, that said I need to listen to my own advice!

Please note I am not sponsored by Niwaki but I use their equipment because I feel it’s the best out there, no other reason

Gloves are the next big thing, I do a lot of rose pruning and other plants that like to return the favour, some like Berberis, blackthorn can leave you with wounds that take a lot of time to heal over, then there’s the risk of catching tetanus and septicaemia. All good reasons to wear the right gloves, so here’s some of the ones I use

1+2) Goldleaf range of gloves are superb, they are made from deer hide and are very flexible and tough wearing, very hard to get a thorn though them! I use a few of their gloves, 1) is the winter touch, ideal for the cold days of winter and 2) are the dry touch, very happy to wear both gloves

3) a pair of nitrile gloves, simple, cheap and ideal for being about to work in and tie in Plants. I use these with thornless plants

4) three finger framed gloves. These are great! I use them for pruning all types of climbing plants as you have 3 fingers (ok 2 fingers and 1 thumb) open so you can tie in plants, the tough leather band across the knuckles means you can push the Rose into the wire to tie it tighter without getting any thorns in your fingers. Great little pair of gloves or they would be if I could find the other one in the back of the van!

That’s it for this series, I hope you enjoyed it and it has helped you a little bit with your pruning

Until next time, happy pruning

6 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Oh cuss! While it was raining today, I stayed in the shop and sharpened pruning saws. It is one of those things that I never was any good at, and wold prefer to get someone else to do it!

    1. thomashort says:

      Funny enough it’s the same for me, only done them a few times, just replace the blades now 🙁 they are so fiddly aren’t they

      1. tonytomeo says:

        It seems easy for those who can do it!

      2. thomashort says:

        Haha yes indeed, dying art though

  2. John Kingdon says:

    Ah, the thorny first aid kit. If you’re anywhere near a Poundland store, look for their “Invisible Aqua Plasters”. 24 plasters for a quid. They’re intriguing to put on as you have to peel off the usual white backing and also a heavy duty front cover but once they’re on, they stay on like no other plaster I’ve ever used. Usually plasters fall off after a couple of minutes but I once tried to see how long I could keep an aquaplast on my finger. Two days and it took a tug to get it off.

    1. thomashort says:

      I shall have to have a look into those John cheers 👍

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