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How to Sharpen a Pruning Saw Like a Pro

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The blades of a pruning saw will gradually become dull over time on account of frequent trimming of tree branches and from exposure to dirt. A dull pruning saw will make the job you are using it for hard to do and time-consuming, and there is no way out without tackling this problem.

Luckily, you can easily sharpen the blades of your pruning saw using the right tools.

After learning how to sharpen a pruning saw adequately and frequently, not only will you experience precise and cleaner cuts, but you will save your priceless time and efforts for other projects.

Why Sharpen a Pruning Saw?

A sharpened pruning saw is one that is well taken care of; when appropriately treated, this tool can be passed down from one generation to another.

Vital to proper care is sharpening the saw correctly with the right tools and storing it in a location where the saw blade is guided and protected, and the environment is not too dewy.

However, even the best of pruning saws that are treated the right way and well taken care of; still get dull, as a result of the impacts from the frequent exposure of the blade’s teeth in cutting woods.

Wood cutting blunts gardening saw blades and reduces their amount of teeth set. This will cause the saw to begin to cut at a slow pace with no tangible result on your pruning job (because the blades are blunt) and are likely to tighten (because the teeth have reduced).

Do not be in a hurry to change your pruning saw; it doesn’t require an expert to sharpen a pruning saw with the proper tools.

The Tools Needed to Sharpen a Pruning Saw

You will require a sharpening rod or a 6-inch metal taper file that slowly files away from the soft metal and a saw set for repairing the teeth and Protective Gloves.

Note: Sharpening saw blades can be hazardous. Ensure to get accustomed to using the sharpening tools before the main sharpening procedure and always put on Protective Gloves while sharpening.

Both metal taper file and saw sets are available in different sizes, so you will be required to decide the number of teeth per inch in the saw you would be sharpening. Also, ensure to use a file and set that is suitable for it.

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How to Sharpen a Pruning Saw Like a Pro

How to Sharpen a Pruning Saw

Having talked about the importance of sharpening a pruning saw, below is the step by step guide on how to sharpen a pruning saw like a pro.

Inspect and Clean the Saw

Before handling the pruning saw, the first thing to do is to equip yourself with personal protective types of equipment such as rubber gloves (to prevent sawing and harming your hands, because a dull saw blade can be sharp), eye wears (to prevent wood chips from getting into the eyes.

Once fully kitted before starting the saw blade sharpening process, you need to ensure that the saw is clean. The tools needed for cleaning are bathroom cleaning solution or soapy water, steel, stiff brushes.

Cleaning the saw blade is an easy job. You start by cleaning the gardening saw blade first off any unwanted grease, rust or debris. First, make use of a stiff brush to take off rusts, remains of stains, or any wood flakes on the saw blade.

The next step is to scrub the blades of the saw one tooth at a time carefully and thoroughly, placing more emphasis on areas with the most stains.

After scrubbing remains off the saw blade, it’s time to let the cleaning solution work its magic. Simply put the saw into the water holder, and then run some of the cleaning solutions into the basin and leave to soak for 5-10 minutes.

Afterwards, the blade will absorb the cleaning solution uniformly and take off hard stains; your brush could not.

If there is a tree sap on the saw blade, you should consider using kerosene. Kerosene effortlessly removes greases and tree saps from the surface of things.

Apply a sufficient amount of kerosene onto a damp rag and gently wipe on to the stain of the sap until they disappear, after which you pat dry with a dry towel.

Remove the Saw Blade from the Saw

The next step after cleaning would be to detach the blade from the saw itself. However, not all pruning saws have detachable blades. And so, you need to read the user manual carefully to see what features your pruning saw can or cannot do.

Usually, the pruning saws with detachable saw blades make the sharpening process a lot easier, but never the less, if yours lacks that feature, it is not a problem, because the sharpening procedure is all the same. Let’s head to the next step.

Examine the Saw

Carefully inspect the teeth if they are all of the same height. If they are not even, you will have to carry out an operation called jointing.

Set up a backboard using wood blocks as support to firmly hold the spine of the saw while you fasten the saw onto a vise. Then set the teeth and use a smooth metal file to even them out, keep filing until they are even on the same height.

Setting the Teeth

It is essential to make sure that the teeth are all in the same width. If the teeth are not arranged, despite their sharpness, they will give you an uneven cut.

Filing the saw

The teeth of a pruning saw blade differ in sizes, so each one requires a certain type of file based on its distinctive feature for sharpening. Any triangular type file or cant files should do.

However, people often debate on which to use between single-cut or double-cut files. They are both excellent except for coarse blades (five to seven points or teeth per inch).

Then a regular taper will do; for medium-coarse (eight to ten TPI) use a slim taper; for medium fine (eleven to fourteen) an extra-slim taper; for fifteen or more, a double extra- slim taper.

It’s still a great move to just buy one file from the hardware stores along with your pruning saw so you don’t have to bother about getting the right one later. Eventually, you will need it.

Taper files differ in size according to the tooth sizes they are meant for. The larger files sharpen the bigger-toothed saw without difficulty, whereas the smaller files will sharpen saws with coarse and fine teeth.

The file in the profile usually possesses the shape of an equilateral triangle. Meaning, whatsoever the size of the taper file is, the shape is the same, i.e., that every one of its three edges is sixty degrees.

This likewise means that the tool will file both the front of one tooth and the end of the one facing it, leaving them both sharpened to the right angle.

Before filing, clip the saw blade up, between two straight bits of hardwood stock in a wood vise or clamp. The tightening action should grasp the saw blade near the cutting edge with the gullets (neck) not over a fourth of an inch from the jaws, to guarantee that the blade is held firmly.

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At that point, take your file and begin from the back of the saw and progressing in the direction of the tip, hone the edges of the teeth. You should hold your file at around a 30-degree point to the saw while sharpening.

Additionally, ensure that you give every tooth the number of strokes as you file. When you get to the tip, unclamp your blade, turn it around, re-clamp it, and repeat this process on the sharp edges of the rest of the teeth of the pruning saw.


After sharpening, you need to clean your pruning saw again and apply some lubricating or anti-rust oil on the blades to protect your saw blade for a while without fear of failure or rust. Allow the saw blade to air dry for about 30 minutes, after you must have applied the lubricating oil.

The final step is for you to test the sharpness of your pruning saw. Head to the garden you wish to prune and pick any tree that needs pruning as your test tree.

If the pruning process feels quick and efficient, you have done a great job. If otherwise, don’t panic. Just repeat the sharpening process until you get it right.

Note: Always put on gloves before handling the pruning saw, even though the blade is blunt, it could still cut a finger.

Now, watch the short video below to see the process of sharpening a pruning saw in action:

[yt vid=”C6bkC8Meiak”]


As you can see, the steps on how to sharpen a pruning saw are quite easy, and anyone can pull it off, with a little time, the right tools, and the simple techniques listed above.

When next you experience a blunt saw, try these easy hacks. However, if the blade is too blunt, you might consider purchasing a new one, so you don’t end up with a broken saw blade.