Sunday, February 28, 2010

Death of a Hand Pruner. (Nah, going to ressurect it!)


(a)  Some how, I have murdered my pruners
(b)  The pruners, uh, had an "accident"
(c)  I like my metal with ketchup.  Delicious!

Just kidding.  Last year I got my fancy schmancy expensive Felco pruners during a New Orleans trip that was garden glorious and the next week I ended up using them, accidentally put them down on the grass, got distracted and realized later that night I had forgotten to put them back.

For 2 DAYS/NIGHTS I scoured the yard, with flashlight, literally going every square foot with my feet and eyes (so I thought) looking for the blasted BRIGHT RED handles of my new pruners.  But alas, they were: THE RUSTED.

I kept blaming myself and haranguing my stupidity as I had formed a budget of sorts/worrying about money as usual that I didn't go out to buy a sharpener.   So I set the pruners aside in a DRY place and figured I'd get back to them.

Now it's nearly spring and things are just waiting to get snipped/pruned/cut.  I want to get snippy!

I have other pruners, some plastic, some lame, but I really want to use my Felcos and also this is a good opportunity to learn how to sharpen them.

Oh, quick explanation about the photo above too:  I was trying to get rust off initially with straight vinegar and out of respect for my poor husband's nose (he's very sensitive) I decided to switch to ketchup (I've heard it works well on rust) and figure that reminders of hotdogs and tomato-y summer would be much more pleasant.

Later I wiped off the ketchup, ran some water over it and dipped it in rubbing alcohol to completely dry out the metal so no nasty water is available to rust them.

Then scrubbed away rust with different coarseness sandpapers to shine it up as I didn't have steel wool on hand.

On to the sharpening:
I used a sharpie permanent marker to mark the edge of the blades so when I sharpen, if the mark goes away, I know I'm going at the correct angle with my sharpening stone.  I didn't want to spend the $40 on a sharpener felco offers online or the money to send my pruners to Felco to sharpen.

Sadly there is no local store here that has good small  diamond file sharpeners of varying grades that I needed, so I had to use this huge stone (about 2"x5") making it somewhat difficult to get the inside well.  It was only about $5-$6 though and has a coarse and fine side, so I figure it will have to do and will work well on all the other larger tools making it versatile.

Here and there I greased the pruners with with vegetable oil (as it's non-toxic) though motor oil is acceptable I know, but I'd rather not deal with that stuff.  I also had to oil the stone to keep dust from flying everywhere and keep the stone in shape and not become ineffective (is what it said on the package).  The stone soaked up oil like nothing else and I think the entire thing took up a FULL CUP of vegetable oil before it started looking even remotely greasy.  Next time I might just dunk it in a cup of oil rather than attempting to slather it on.

If I am smart, I take into account advice I've heard where it's recommended to fill a bucket with sand and motor oil (though I really really wonder if I could just use vegetable, if it didn't go rancid... and even if it did, it's not as though I'm eating it...) so that the sand will clean off your tools and the oil will lubricate them every time you place your tools in the bucket, making tool maintenance infinitely simpler than how I've been going about it.

Here we are, shiny and sharp!

Clean, sharp(er) cuts now.
 (top stick is of prior to sharpening, bottom stick is post sharpening)

I should have taken a pic of the originally terrible state that they were in but I was too ashamed! (and forgot to)

I love the sound of sharp hand pruners, a "sh-wish-sh-wish!" 

More pruner cleaning/sharpening info:
Sharpening Pruners - Fine Gardening Article