Best Sharpeners for Gardening & Landscape Tools: Guide & Recommendations
Does it really make sense to buy a new pruner, lopper, lawnmower blade, machete, hatchet, axe, shovel, hoe, hedge shear, or knife just because it’s dull? Does it make sense to take time out of your busy day or precious weekend to drive to a tool sharpening place that may or may not have same day service?
We think there’s a better way. All it requires is a little education and the purchase of some affordable sharpening tool(s).
But with so many options for sharpening your gardening and landscape tools, where do you turn? There are clearly a lot of choices, so we’ve taken the guesswork out by reviewing a wide variety of tool sharpeners so we can recommend the best options for your sharpening needs.
TYPES OF SHARPENERS
We did not cover every conceivable sharpener currently on the market as we’d never get this review written. But what we did do is pick some well-known manufacturers with a history of providing good to excellent quality gear that will get the job done.
We focused our attention on the following types of tool sharpeners:
- Metal files
- Bonded abrasive whetstones (man-made, rather than those cut from the earth)
- Carbide sharpeners (“V” shaped, chisel-shaped, and flat shaped)
- Diamond impregnated tapered rods
- Diamond impregnated double-sided sharpeners (sometimes called “paddle” sharpeners)
- Ceramic stones and diamond impregnated triangular stones
- Electric motor, belt-driven sharpeners and grinders
For details on each type of sharpener, as well as our top recommendations, scroll down to Types of Sharpening Tools: Details & Recommendations.
Sharpening Tool Brands
Brands included in this review include:
- DMT (Diamond Machining Technology)
- Work Sharp
TOOLS WE SHARPENED
To adequately test the performance of each type of sharpener, we tried them on a wide range of common gardening tools. Believe it or not, there’s a sharpener for every kind of tool, including:
- Hori horis / digging knives
- Shovels and spades
- Lawnmower blades
- Hatchets and axes
- Bill Hook (Fiskars)
- Loppers (both bypass and anvil)
- Hedge shears
- Hand pruners (both bypass and anvil)
- Stick pruners
- Landscape bars
- Box cutters
- Wire cutters
- Tin snips
Questions to Consider When Choosing a Sharpening Tool
Choosing the right sharpener for the job is both subjective and objective. It’s also a function of what tools you own.
Here are some questions to help you figure out what you need.
- What’s my budget?
- What sharpening tools do I already have?
- What gardening and/or landscaping tools do I own?
- Can I get by with just one sharpener for the tools I own, or does it require multiple types of sharpeners?
- Do I want to deburr the edges of my tools to make them very sharp?
- Do I care if the sharpened edge is a little ragged or do I prefer a finely polished surface?
- Is MY take-away “It’s good enough” or “I’m a perfectionist”?
- Am I a tool junkie or a minimalist?
- Am I planning on sharpening friends’ and family tools? If so, what kind of tools do they have?
- Do my tools have straight, curved, or serrated edges, or all three?
- If you have serrated edges, how close together are the serrations?
- Am I a “tool for life” person or would I rather just rather buy a new one when needed?
- Should my sharpener be multi-function (with the ability to sharpen many different types of tools)?
- Is size/transportability important?
- Are corded and/or cordless sharpeners a consideration?
- How hard is the metal I’m sharpening?
- How quickly do I want to get the job done?
With those questions in mind, take a look through the following sharpening tool descriptions to see which will be the best option(s) for you.
Sharpeners Included in this Review
We evaluated as many sharpeners as we could, being careful to try similar products within sharpener types and to compare products from multiple brands. We’ll continue to add more items to the sortable list below as we review more sharpening tools.
For details about these tools, click on the tool name or see the section below where each type of tool is described in detail.
|AccuSharp||Carbide||ShearSharp (single carbide)|
|AccuSharp||Carbide||001C Knife Sharpener (double carbide)|
|AccuSharp||Carbide||006C GardenSharp (double carbide)|
|AccuSharp||Carbide||Axes/Machetes/Knives/Hatchets & More (double carbide)|
|Work Sharp||Belt drive grinder/sharpener||Knife & Tool Sharpener|
|Corona||Carbide||SolidCARBIDE (single carbide)|
|Smith’s||Carbide||Mower Blade Sharpener (single carbide)|
|Smith’s||Carbide||Pruning Tool Sharpener (single carbide)|
|Spyderco||Ceramic||400F (4 ceramic file set)|
|Spyderco||Ceramic||Triangle Diamond Rods (204D)|
|DMT||Diamond flat file||Diafold Flat File|
|AccuSharp||Diamond paddle||Diamond Paddle Sharpener Dual Sided (051C)|
|DMT||Diamond paddle||Diafold Double-Sided Sharpener|
|Smith’s||Diamond paddle||Diamond Combination Sharpener|
|DMT||Diamond rod||DiaFold Serrated Knife Sharpener (extra fine 1200 grit, fine 600 grit, coarse 325 grit)|
|Smith’s||Diamond rod||BE SHARP Diamond Retractable Sharpener (DRET)|
|Smith’s||Diamond rod/carbide/ceramic||PP1-Tactical (knife sharpener)|
|Corona||Flat file (mill bastard file)||Flat smooth cut file (8″)|
|Lansky||Diamond paddle||Diamond Sharpening Paddle|
|Lansky||Whetstone (bonded grit)||Lawn & Garden Tool Sharpener|
|Smith’s||Whetstone (bonded grit)||EdgeEater Multi-Purpose Tool Sharpener|
Types of Sharpening Tools: Details & Recommendations
In this section we cover:
- the different types of sharpening tools
- what each type is best used for
- the pros and cons of each type of sharpener
- our top recommendations for each type of sharpener
Click on each sharpener type below to view the details.
Hopefully we’ve shed some light on some of the sharpening tools that are readily available for the gardening and DIY landscape enthusiast. Clearly there are a lot of choices.
In my opinion, you’ll need more than one tool to get the job done right, particularly if you own different types of gardening tools.
There are some groupings of sharpening tools that you could choose one over the other (example, a mini grinder vs. a metal file vs. a Whetstone). But even in this case the motor driven grinder is so much more.
Some may feel uncomfortable with operating electric motor powered gear. For them, there are a number of good hand operated tools. Some are perfectionists like me who will spend the money to get exactly what they need, knowing that they’re buying high quality at a higher cost because they want it to last a lifetime (or at least a very long time). Others will take a much more minimalist approach or may be on a budget that only allows for certain tools.
That said, here are my recommendations:
You can’t go wrong with a set of good quality metal files. Corona sells sets of them and you can also buy handles for them (get the handles, you’ll thank me for it). You can bull your way through about any metal and a variety of angles (even concave if you get a round file). My pick is Corona.
I’d go for the Lansky whetstone. Although the Smith’s whetstone sharpener did its job, it left a fair amount of the stone’s abrasive on the floor and tended to develop grooves in the stone more quickly than the Lansky.
I tested three different manufacturers of Carbide sharpeners: AccuSharp, Smith’s, and Corona. Each company manufactured a winner in my mind – any would be a good choice (more above).
Diamond-Impregnated Tapered Rods
When it comes to diamond tapered rods, one by AccuSharp or Smith’s will do the trick. They are virtually the same.
I’d go for the DMT due to the quality and the precision that comes from having three different grit sizes to choose from. They are also made in USA – I like purchasing in-country when I have the opportunity.
The PP1 Tactical from Smith’s is an anomaly in this area. It’s a great multi-tool and is definitely handy for sharpening knives and smaller serrations. I see it more for the DIY landscaper who needs to constantly sharpen a knife for the work they do. And who wouldn’t want an emergency glass breaker – just in case. As a gardening tool probably not, but then again plenty of gardeners carry a multi-tool into the garden and use it frequently. Here’s an application for this specific tool.
Double-Sided Diamond-Impregnated Sharpeners / Paddle Files
I have a favorite for Double Sided Diamond Impregnated Sharpeners (sometime called “Paddle Files”). Outside my go-to preference for DMT, I’d recommend the Smith’s Diamond Combination Sharpener. Its plastic polka dots to accept the swarf, combined with pretty standard coarse and fine grits, make it a great choice. The handle is beefy, rigid and strong and I like the way the file stores inside the single-piece plastic handle. It also cut into the metal more smoothly than the others (except DMT).
If you’re after fast metal removal then the Lansky Sharpening Paddle is for you. Of the above tools I tested, most have a coarse grit in the 320 range and a fine grit in the 600 – 750 range (the smaller the number the coarser the grit). Lansky’s coarse grit came in at 120. This is by far the most aggressive coarse file I tested. If you had to choose between a man-made whetstone versus the Lansky Diamond Sharpening Paddle, I’d go for the paddle. I wasn’t a real fan of the handle design – the handles flopped around when not in the “in-use” position, but they did stiffen up when brought together to do the work. This is an example of where one tool could substitute for another.
We only had one contender in the Ceramic Sharpeners category (diamond stones included) and that was Spyderco. I’ve owned one of their Tri-Angle Sharpmakers for many, many years. It has been my go-to for knives, scissors and many other cutting tools. But its sharpening abilities don’t stop there. The ceramic sharpening stones can be used on their own to sharpen and deburr a variety of gardening tools, as well as to put both chisel and knife edges on pruners, loppers, shears and the like. This is not a heavy duty metal removal kit but, rather, a “keep it sharp” tool for use when an edge becomes dull.
And let’s not forget the 400F ceramic rod sharpening kit. Some may see this as an extravagance but it sure did the trick when honing those hard to get serrations or putting a mirror-like finish on a set of pruners. Is it a must? Not for most. But for me, the owner of a Fiskars Billhook, it’s indispensable.
And as an upgrade to the Tri-Angle Sharpmaker, Spyderco offers a set of diamond impregnated sharpening stones. These were a nice addition when I wanted to sharpen a hatchet while using the Sharpmaker base, or when used as a single stone to touch up a machete, wire cutters or hori hori.
Electric Tool Sharpeners
The Work Sharp is an impressive multi-tool. Part sharpener, part grinder, it sharpened/honed a lot of tools. I used it to put a new tip on a broken knife and it performed beautifully. Not only did it remove considerable material (to put a point back on the blade), it honed it to a gleaming razor-sharp finish. It did have one downside. When sharpening bypass pruning shears and loppers the recommended sharpening grit was too aggressive and left a flat spot in the blade (even though I kept the belt moving down the blade at a continuous rate). It was also hard to reach into the tight spaces where the two blades came together. Additionally, it did not put the “factory” sharpened angle back on the blade but rather ground its own angle. The sharpened tool was super sharp (even in the flat spot), but I would not recommend it for pruners, loppers or any precision tool where two blades come together to cause a cutting action (I’d save that for the diamond tapered rods or ceramics noted above). The power of this device is awesome but a little too much for those fine cutting gardening tool edges.
As a knife and scissor sharpener, this baby really excelled. And as a grinder it was phenomenal! With the coarse 80 grit belt, it blasted its way through lawnmower blades, hatchets, hori horis, shovels, hoes, weeding tool tines, and more.
Despite its limitations noted above, I can unequivocally recommend this sharpener. If it’s in your budget, get one. I love it and I think you will too.