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  • Writer's pictureDebi Holland

Renovating Secateurs

From rusty wreck to shining steels

January is a great time to take stock of your garden tools and service, repair or replace damaged kit. Winter is prime pruning season so I was keen to have all my blades sharp and in full working order. I have been having a dilemma over my secateurs as my latest pair disintegrated. I have tried many different types and brands and had various levels of success.

Rusty secateurs

Toying with purchasing a new pair was actually proving hard to pin down so I went back to the drawing board. I found my four year old disregarded secateurs and decided to see whether any were saveable.

Armed with You Tube tutorials, RHS and manufacturer advice sheets, I sourced the mechanical expertise and patience of my husband and embarked on a fascinating lesson in bringing rusty kit back from the dead! Click on gallery photos to enlarge and see description.

Each component of the secateurs are carefully disassembled and cleaned in a white spirit bath and then individually rubbed with wet and dry paper whose abrasive nature removes dirt and surface rust.

A wire brush attachment on a drill made light work of returning tarnished metal back to shine.

Smaller components like the toothed nut come up well with a hand held wire brush. Parts such as the spring can be oiled or if too far gone then replaced.

There was no way of knowing whether the blade would ever cut cleanly again but every attempt to restore it was made. The black rancid blade was flat rubbed on dry and wet paper with an instant result.

Then the tough art form of trying to obtain a sharp edge on the blade commenced, this was a bit of a labour of love. Online videos proved essential to illustrate the angles needed on both sides of the blade to achieve a sharp cutting edge. Easier said than done!

It was extremely satisfying seeing all the parts returned to their former glory, particularly as they had been in a dyer state.

All Felco parts cleaned

The final reassembly began. Lube was applied between moving metal parts to ensure they remain slick and snag-free.

Final touches to the blade, another session with the sharpening stone and then the ultimate test, as listed on the RHS website: can your blade cut through a sheet of paper? Drum roll...YES!!

It did take a lot of elbow grease but just shows you that if you buy high quality equipment in the first place you can renovate your secateurs back to life piece-by-piece. The Swiss made components are strong and durable even after years of high use...and neglect.

Rusty Felco 8's shining and in full working order

It is incredible to see the transformation. It has taught me to service my tools regularly, so they do not get this far gone in the first place. They currently always get hand cleaned and oiled between each client job but I will certainly be more attentive to disassembling the secateurs regularly to give them a thorough service and ensure the blades are kept sharp.

Felco secateurs before and after

This is by no means meant to be a definitive 'how to' guide; this is simply a collection of photos logging the process we went through to renovate our secateurs. A good record to remind me of the individual stages involved.

If you manage to renovate your old secateurs you could save yourself a lot of money, it just takes a bit of time and effort. It is still cost effective to buy replacement springs and blades for your secateurs; they then should be as good as new but for a fraction of the cost for many years to come.

All photos taken by Debi Holland ©

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