I love to sharpen tools—mainly because it’s so easy, but of course also because a sharpened tool works so much better. Years ago, my go-to sharpeners were a metal file and a whetstone. About 20 years ago, I discovered the angle grinder that was fantastic at sharpening larger tools and lawn mower blades. I have given a lot of demonstrations using a triangular file to sharpen garden tools, and that file is still the best for repairing pruner and lopper blades that have nicks. When a power source is available, a Dremel with a barrel stone can quickly remove a lot of metal if necessary. Several years ago, I favored the carbide sharpening tool that Corona puts out. Its main advantage is that it is so portable, but it requires knowing the technique of how to use it.
Today, my favorite sharpening tool is the diamond file. It has to be the easiest of all these tools to use. It behaves like a layer of sandpaper glued to a flat surface. You simply lay it on the surface to be removed and move it about. You can use a circular motion or straight-lined motion—it doesn’t matter—whereas a file has to be moved in a straight line forward only. Then too, a diamond file will work on hardened steel, whereas a metal file simply slips across the surface and the cutting edges of the file are ruined. Today I was at an iris dig where I was able to sharpen all the scissors that were being used. Now, the diamond file does not remove a lot of metal, so you wouldn’t want to use it for large tools like axes or shovels. But lighter tools like pruners, loppers, and household items like scissors and knives are so easily sharpened. The only challenge is holding the diamond file at an angle so that it matches the beveled edge to want to grind away. You can see if the angle is correct by where the metal turns shiny. The entire beveled surface should start to become shiny as you work.
You can test the sharpness of the tool by pulling your thumb across (not along) the sharpened edge. When the edge is sharp, it will grab your skin rather than just slip across it.
Amazon carries a great variety of diamond files, but most are narrow. For our sharpening needs, a large, flat file surface is best. I really like the files shown below which I bought at Harbor Freight. Having 3 different grits is very beneficial, and as far as I know, diamond files don’t wear out.
I really think you will appreciate your tools more when they are sharp, and diamond files make it such an easy and rewarding process.
Stan, The Tool Man
P.S. You will really appreciate your sharpened tool when you cut yourself. A sharp tool will damage fewer nerve cells and your cut will be practically painless. By the way, I have found that Shout prewash is really good at removing blood stains from clothing.