Before we dig into the nitty-gritty of this article, let’s have a chat about which pruning shears are best. The answer to that is simple, it really depends on what you like. I will give you my opinion and why, but others will argue telling that they like another brand for a lot of different reasons. In short, you have to decide which ones you like the best.
I just turned 60 and I’ve been doing this stuff since the age of 16, so it’s fair to say that I’ve held and used a lot of different kinds of pruning shears. Different sizes, different shapes, different brands. Without a doubt, the pair that I am absolutely the most comfortable with are the ones pictured above. They are the Corona BP 3130. They usually cost about $18.00 per pair.
Why do I like them so much?
- They are relatively small and easy to handle. 7½” long is a nice comfortable size.
- They are the perfect size for carrying in the Front Pocket of My bibs as You Can See Here.
- They are a by-pass type of shear, not an anvil shear.
- They are sharp and stay sharp for a long time.
- They put up with a lot of abuse. Since they are the only tool I have in my pocket all of the time I end up using them for all kinds of things that I shouldn’t. But they hold up to it quite well.
- They are affordable. Some shears cost two, three, or four times as much And quite honestly? I’ve tried them and I don’t like them as well as the Corona BP 3130.
- They are perfect for the type of pruning that I do and for making cuttings which I do a lot of.
- After all of these years, and many, many pairs of shears, these are my favorite Any other shears feels like a “foreign object” in my hand.
- If I lose them or accidentally leave them outside, or somebody else leaves them outside, I’m out $18.00, not $75.00 or $100.00.
Keep in mind, these are my “everyday shears”. If I’m going to spend a lot of time pruning trees or something like that I might opt for a pair of Coronas that are larger. I do have some larger Cornona’s but I rarely use them because I just don’t like them. What model? I don’t know, I don’t have them handy at the moment. I think they are 8″ or 8½”.
What are Anvil Shears?
Anvil shears only have one sharp blade that closes flat against a metal anvil pinching the wood you are cutting. Anvil shears can do a lot of damage simply because of the way they work, they can crush the plant stem. But more importantly than that, the blade gets a lot of abuse because it’s constantly hitting the metal anvil. With by-pass shears, the blades bypass one another like scissors, so they are never metal on metal. Only plant tissue against the metal blade. Big, big difference.
Keeping Your Pruning Shears Sharp.
The secret to keeping your pruning shears nice and sharp is one, make sure they don’t have a chance to get rusty. If they do get rusty I think you can soak them in white vinegar to clean them up, somebody please verify that for me please. I’ve never actually tried it myself. The other thing that I do with my shears is to spray them with WD40 anytime they start to get a little sticky.
Next, keep the blade sharp. These shears only have one sharp blade and one by-pass blade. The sharp blade is only tapered on one side, so please keep that in mind as you sharpen your shears. You’ll make a few passes (five to six) with the handheld sharpener on the tapered edge of the blade and only one pass on the non-tapered edge of the blade.
Sharpen the tapered edge first, then make that single pass on the non-tapered edge to remove any burrs on the blade.
Corona makes a handy, dandy sharpening tool that works really, really well.
Okay, first thing, let’s get this out of the way. Everybody look at Pam’s awesome fingernails. She just had them done when I asked her to model these two tools for me. You can tell it’s February because she has her nails done. It’s kind of a waste of time during potting season to try and keep your nails nice if you have your hands in potting soil all day.
Using this sharpening tool is really easy. Just work it back and forth across the tapered edge of the blade, being careful to maintain the same angle that the shears had when they were new. All you are doing is “dressing the edge”, removing any burrs, any damage that might have happened to the blade. Remember, just a few passes is all you need, four to six passes should be enough.
Then turn the blade over and notice that the back edge of the blade does not have any taper at all. On the backside all you are going to do is hold the tool flat against the back edge, no angle at all, and make one or two passes at the most, removing any burrs that might be present on the blade.
That’s it! Do that a few times during the gardening season, use WD40 or another lubricant to keep the shears working smoothly and to remove any sap that has built up on the blades. If you do those two things, your pruning shears will last you a long, long time.
One of our members found a “how to video” for using this tool. I love our members, they are awesome!
She hates it when I do this!
I busted into her sewing room with my camera, a pair of “not so clean” pruning shears, and some crazy-looking tool that I want her to “pose” with so I could snap a few photos. But first I took this photo of her and she really wasn’t crazy about that either!
For years she’s had a closet full of baby blankets that she made, but in the past year we’ve welcomed 6 new babies into the family, two of them grandchildren, and she finally got to give away some of those blankets. Actually, the second new grandchild isn’t due for another few weeks.
So now she’s back at it, stocking up the closet!
Questions or comments about anything? Post them below and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.
1. Very informative.
2. I’m super jealous of Pam’s lovely nails – it was very wise of you to get pictures of her holding the shears, LOL.
Scott Davis says
We have Corona tools too. But I would not recommend WD40 as it gets sticky really fast and attracts dust. I use 3-in-1 oil wipe on after sharpening/cleaning and/or at least once a week.
As for sharpening I use a sharpie marker to color the cutting edge then touch them up with a triangular India stone every week or after heavy usage.
When pruning roses, or plants/trees with aphids, I dip them in a weak bleach solution then rinse in clear water.
Dear Mr. Mike.
A couple years back i bought the corona shears you recommended.
i have been totally pleased with them and they are my go to shears.
Thank You for the good advice.
Except for one plant.
Because of its extremely strong and fibrous nature bypass shears get jammed by the threads of bamboo between the blades. i also tried cutting bamboo with a chainsaw and the threads would get between the chain and bar throwing the chain off the bar. Even when tight.
Bamboo is one tough plant.
For me the tool to cut bamboo is the blade and anvil shears.
Slices right through bamboo easy and clean.
No threads. Cuts the whole thing in one pass.
Its the only thing i use the anvil style cutters for.
Everything else gets the corona treatment.
Thank You again for all the great content.
Great info Bert! It’s all about the correct tool for the job. Seldom does one size fit all.
brian lindberg says
i just got the file on Amazon and the video was worth watching…thanks
Hello – I am in Tasmania, Australia. I saw your comment about vinegar for cleaning tools. We had all our tools in storage for a year and when I unpacked them, there was quite a bit of rust.
I soaked them in brown vinegar for two days – small pieces in jars and large ones in a bucket. Took them out and cleaned them with a handbrush under the tap. Lots of black comes off! I dried them off on paper towels and then sprayed WD40 liberally. Wiped the excess off and then I could sharpen them.
They came up completely rust free, albeit a bit darker metal than before.
I do this whenever I see a bit of rust forming. Perfect!
Deane Hoffman says
WHAT LOCAL HARDWARE STORES MIGHT CARRY THE CORONA SHARPENING TOOL?? HOME DEPOT, ACE, TRUE VALUE, RURAL KING??
Not sure, not Home Depot, you’d have to call them. Many have their own brand and I wouldn’t go there. I bought some that looked just like Coronas but wouldn’t cut hot butter.
Lowe’s shows they carry Corona. You may want to check with them.
I got mine at Coronas at Home Depot.
Lowe’s shows they carry Corona items. You may want to check with them.
John Watts says
Pam does make a beautiful model and her fingernails are very nice. So nice I almost didn’t notice that she was holding the wrong handle for sharpening.
Ron Kiecker says
Mike thanks for that Great Artical, great advise. I am like you and have tried them all. Set saside the pinching issue this is the best on the market. Thanks agian Mike. Keep up inspiring!!
Lets get started the weeds are starting to grow and it’s time to start to our seedlings. Have a great year!
I spoke with an Orchard grower about my two apples trees blooming several weeks to a month apart, and therefore they don’t pollinate well. He suggested grafting a couple of limbs from each tree onto the other so that each tree would have some blooms to aid in the pollinating.
I forgot o ask how to graphed the tree limbs, do you have any tips for grafting Apples trees ?
That sounds simple enough but in reality I don’t think it is. It’s possible, but depending on the size of the trees now, how much sun the grafts could get, how successful the grafts could be. I’d plant another tree that will do that job for you. Grafting is tricky and takes practice and tools etc.
Billy G. Thompson says
Golden Delicious is self pollinating. I have 1 that I grafted 12 other apples own it. I have a pear with 6 pears on it. I have 1 tree that has 2 plums, 2 peaches, 2 apricot & a nectarine on it. But pecans are my favorite trees to graft. Grafting isnt easy but lots of fun. I worked with a old man that got me onto it. I’ve had really good luck for years. I get the cuttings in Jan or Feb wrap a moist paper towel around the cut then put them in a baggy & keep them in the refrigerator until march to april. You have to keep the little green line under the bark touching on each one then coat with bee’s wax & wrap with plastic.
Zack Claytpn says
I got a pair of those Corona pruners when I worked for the City of Midland Forestry in 1972. The plastic is long gone, but I still have them and they are my go to pruning tool. The only thing I don’t like about them is the closure. I tend to pinch myself on the hook and the loop tab.
That closure has been an issue forever and ever. I often bend it then they don’t latch anymore. But still, best shears I’ve ever owned.
Billy G. Thompson says
I’ve crushed the closer lock on quit a few. I think they should change it like some of the other corona sheers.
Char Newman says
what size Corona? 1/4,1/2, or 1″?
1/2″ I think, #3130? That’s a guess with no shears in front of me.
Ann M Gaydosh says
Hi Mike – I love reading about everything you do! Amazon has the Corona pruners and sharpener, but not the model 3130. There are 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″ – indicating diameter of branch. I might go for the 3/4″ so I can prune slightly larger crabapple and apple branches. Thanks for the tips and videos!
Ann, you’re welcome.
Lester White says
To prevent bypass pruners from potentially transmitting disease from one plant to another clean the blades with alcohol in a spray bottle (or wipe with alcohol prep pads). This is very important if you have plants that you trade or sell (nobody wants sick plants).
Only lubricate the hinge where the bolt is at, not the whole blade.
In the real world, shears don’t get disinfected as often as you think. Instead, plants are inspected and certified disease free. Some might disinfect, but I never have and I’ve been at this for over 40 years. Never an issue. If it were, the plants that I have growing would not pass inspection.
JOHN Kelly says
Just came in from pruning my red raspberries. Over 25 years old and still producing quite well. Yes ,I use the same pruners. Touch them up every so often with a small stone. Graphite works well for lubrication.
JOHN Kelly says
Just came in from pruning my red raspberries. Over 25 years old and still producing quite well. Yes ,I use the same printers. Touch them up every so often with a small stone. Graphite works well for lubrication.
Edwin L Portier says
Yes, the vinegar works on rust !
Awesome! Figured it did, just never tried it myself.
Patricia Goodwin says
I’ve used white vinegar for everything from cleaning to removing rust from metal. It’s not necessary to soak many things in vinegar. Most of the time you can use a rag soaked in vinegar & wipe away the rust. Care needs to be used since vinegar is an acid & will eat into the metal if left too long & it will become pitted. WD40 is great for keeping metal free from rust & corrosion, it’s a great lubricant been using it for many many years. Some things sometimes need a little heavier oil [like hinges, locks & etc.] my old favorite is 3 in 1 oil, been using it for years also.
I might run for president of the Procrastinators of America, seeing as this comment arrives more than 2 years after your post. But I digress. I use WD40, too, but more to free up rusty stuff. It was apparently a byproduct of the Space Program in the 60’s, as a “water displacement” agent to keep water out of the hinges of the solar panels on satellites. It was the fortieth formula tried, so it was labeled WD40. My favorite lubricant for garden tools is FluidFilm. It also makes cleanup of the gunked-up tools easier, too.
That’s interesting. WD 40 is amazing stuff. I use it on my trailer hitch, snow plow latches etc. and I’m amazed at how long it lasts being so light.
Amjad Sheikh says
Somewhere I read that you do not mail plants. If True! Why. Love your assign for plants. After taking your knowledge I started with Hibiscus that I bought for 23 dollars at Home Depot. I did cuttings and seeds, Then took cuttings from several rose plants and also used Hibiscus (Sharon rose) just around end of September. And now I have over 30 Hibiscus plants majority from cuttings and few from seeds in my green house. Which is about. The size of 20 x 12 ft. Made of Almuminum and glass. Have a door outside and sliding door from my Library. I worked as Software Engineer for over 30 years. And then retired. I always loved plants but never knew I could do it. I just started it for the love of it. Thank you mike for instilling confidence.
You are great. By the way. You ever come to Chicago side. You are most welcome to my home.
Thanks Amjad, I appreciate that. As of this moment I have not shipped plants. Or at least very many. But that might change is 2017, very seriously considering selling some rooted cuttings and liners in the future.
Charline Jolly says
Pam, I am so jealous of your beautiful nails! We finally got heavy rains in California and the weeds are making up for lost time. My nails are destroyed from pulling them.
I have used the Corona pruners since 1949 and I love them. They fit neatly into my jeans back pocket. I also use the folding saw. Handy!
Pam ditched the nails yesterday, started nursery work today. No nails for a while.
Linda Gail Lambert says
I just found your sight a few weeks ago and am receiving your weekly articles. I must tell you that I feel your passion for gardening. I am enjoying what I read and have learned much and have also been inspired to try your methods.
I now live in La Paz, Mexico on the Baja Peninsula, where it never freezes. Our winter temps only dip below 50F a few times per year. My garden is in above ground boxes and I make my soil by adding compost and manure. My laying -chickens help because they compost all straw, leaves, garden clippings and food waste. My soil is improving each year.
I am wondering about what our best months for propagation would be here.? We have citrus, avocado, mango, olive trees, Hibiscus, Buganvilla, etc,, here in the area but it all has to be carefully tended to as the desert rainfall is to scarce to keep anything healthy that isn’t naturally adapted to the climate and soil.
Congrats on your beautiful family and your work. Thanks to Pam for modeling for us. Consider a visit to Baja if winter gets too chilly up there in Wisconsin.
In your climate this would probably work best for you, https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-summertime-plant-propagation-techniques-can-home/
John Reed says
Hi Mike, a former meatcutter here. This will surprise folks, but do not use oil or water on a sharpening stone for sharpening knives, etc. See POPULAR SCIENCE “knife sharpening” through a ‘google’ search. It seems metal flakes suspended in the oil/water on the stone abrade the edge your are attempting to sharpen. The POPULAR SCIENCE article shows the effects under a 100x microscope. Apparently, old advice passed down from generation to generation. ‘Old dog, new tricks’ thing.
Interesting but I guess it does make sense.
I was really tickled to see your Corona tool. Have not seen them since I was a kid some 60 yrs ago. Here is a new use for them Mom would be so mad at me
for telling you this if she were still alive. She had the thickest toe nails you ever saw reminded you of birds beaks the way they grew. To cut them for her when she was older we would use this tool. the skinny blade would go over the top and the rounded part would just fit perfectly underneath. It would cut them just as slick asyou please. You couldn’t use flat blades or scissors because it would split them right down the middle. See, there is more then one way to use a tool.
Thanks for all your hard work.
Thanks Donna, I use my Corona shears for all kinds of things I shouldn’t, but they are the one tool that is in my pocket all the time.
d. henry Lee says
I had a door hinge that was rusty and locked up. I tried WD-40 but it wouldn’t free it up. So I soaked it in Coca Cola for several days and it freed it up so I could use it again. Coke is also good for stained toilets. Imagine what this stuff is doing to your insides?
Thanks Henry, I’m not sure if that’s good news or bad news but it’s good to know that it works. I’ve heard that about Coke, but never tried it.
Phyllis Poole says
WD40 will get thick and goo up things after a while . Goop off will clean it off.
Silicone spray is best to make things slippery.
I’ve never had that problem with WD 40 and I use it all the time.
Donna J. 13 says
Mike, you are just bustin at the bibs with all your new Grandbabies!!!!
Congrats to you and Pam!…..and of course your kids had something to do with it too. LOL
Thanks Donna, just got a call from Baton Rouge, the little one might come along this week! Awesome stuff. Then they are all moving back to Ohio which is even better.
Al Simpkins says
Mike, A mixture of Transmission oil and Acetone is the greatest rust buster for bolts and things with rust.
Thanks Al, great info to have.
russ sherwood says
mike, i to use them and your right about the vinegar it takes rust off anything
I really love reading the comments as well. Those corona pruners are a true display of simplistic genius at work. I do like my lefty Felco’s and I can’t work without my small folding Corona saw … That little 6″? Blade can make short work of a damaged branch stumbled accross while I’m wondering the back yards of South Eastern Pa.
May the warm sunshine of spring warm your bones and light for you and your crew many smiles. Almost time to dive in up to our elbows!!! Woo hoo!!!
Boy are you ever right about it being almost time to dive in. It already seems like we have five years work to do in the next 10 weeks! 6″ corona saw? I’ll have to check into that. I used to have a bit larger corona folding saw and it was an amazing tool.
Mike Bronosky says
While I have not tried this here is a write-up at Fine Woodworking about using vinegar, and to speed it up salt. They are doing a woodworking plane.
And here is a Youtube
Phyllis Poole says
Vinegar and salt will also clean copper bottom pans.
When and how to prune hydrangeas?
Here you go. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2012/07/hydrangea-pruning-made-easy/
Theresa Jakubcin says
Oh Mike I have same kind of clippers (two pair in case grandkids want to help) yes the vinegar soak does take rust off,,was using it for something other than gardening tools which I stick into a large pretty plant pot I dry all my coffee grounds and dump then into pot,and stick my small gardening tools into that,I am working on a large office size waste container for large things like different size shovels.,oil from coffee grounds keep my tools fro rusting.
Mary Ann Houle says
Mike , when I am done with my shears , I dip them into a bottle of petroleum jelly to protect them when not in use. I have been laid up with a severely fractured 2,3, 4 metarsals and staph. After 11 months and 7 days finally got boot and electronics off. Nursery is a mess but We are committed to rebuilding. Nana’s Nursery. Happy sixty birthday. I turn 71 3/16 much older than you haha
Thanks Mary Ann and I hope you are up and running again soon!
You should strike a deal with Corona to have the link here and for you to get SOME Kind of credit since you are the one that lead us all to it. If nothing but an occasional new pair of shears! They just got a lot of free advertising not to mention a heck of a testimonial!
You would think that wouldn’t you? They see this stuff and they know what the right thing to do is. But being all corporate and all, well you know.
CD Greier says
Re; Big companies doing the right thing: Mike, if the little ol’ wheel don’t squeak, it don’t get greased!
PS Love the personal content; Pam, none of us like pictures of ourselves! So glad to see another normal woman ; )
Corona lawn tools are available at most ACE hardware stores. Just like a neighbor, they welcome you with open arms. Just don’t borrow the tools, buy them. Mike, I love your stories and ideas.
Is the color of Pam’s finger nail polish the brand Opi and the name “I’m not really a waitress”? That is my favorite color and it sure looks like it! Sorry, hehe, I figured since she she models the objects, she should get a question too!
I have no idea and I’m guessing that she doesn’t know either, she has the done at the shop down the road.
Does anyone else have the problem with the lock mechanism locking automatically after every cut. I have to push it back to unlock position to continue.
Not saying that you are doing anything wrong, but I’m thinking that you must hold your hand differently than I do because that
rarely happens to me. That can be a problem because if you are not careful you can close against that latch then the shears will no longer lock any longer. I’ve had that happen, but not in a long time.
Try flipping the clipper over so the locking wire lays on the handle instead of hanging towards the locking slot. In other words, with the cutting blade up.
Mark Yehle says
I got a tip from an article in Popular Woodworking magazine on how to take off rust. Soaking heavily rusted tools, bolts, etc. in “The Works” toilet bowl cleaner for a few minutes to just a few hours completely removes all of the rust.. Good ventilation, rubber gloves, and eye protection are good ideas but it is quick and efficient. A friend brought me a pair of scissors that had been out in her garden for two years and they looked like new after cleaned and sharpened.
Thanks Mark, great information to have.
Using white vinegar will remove any rust by soaking it in vinegar overnight, then rinse & oil.
I used this on my cast iron skillets after my house burned in 2011. it cleaned the rust off them so they looked like new.
Thank you Marshall, that’s what I thought!
When I am done using my garden tools I stick them in a sand and oil bucket. Pick a container that you can put all you tools into. I use an old water tub. Mix engine oil and sand. If you can find used that is even better. Stick shovels, hoes, pruners, lopers etc into sand. No rust and come like they are new.. This will take off rust but will prevent rust while in storage.
Thanks Ted, very interesting.
kanu bhatia says
its wonder full reading ur comments they are great & i love it
can u please provide the address for buying sticks from Erie pa
kanu phila pa
All of that information is in the members area, I can’t share it here. You’ll have to check and see when our members area will be open again. http://backyardgrowers.com/join
JOHN HICKSON says
HOW DO I GET THE “CORONA TOOL”
You can find it online, Amazon I think.