Felco Maintenance Tips ???

landpersonJanuary 8, 2011

I am in the middle of taking my Felco #7s apart, and thinking that I should do a better job of maintaining them on a regular basis.

I know I should be oiling them regularly -- not using WD40 -- sharpening them regularly, and cleaning the sticky stuff off the blade regularly (not all of which I actually do, even though I know I should), but....

Does anyone have any secrets to keeping them for those 20 and 25 years I keep hearing??

Susan

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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

Excellent question! I thought my Felco was going to be a maintenance-free, razor-sharp, precision tool forever. Wroong! I was unpleasantly surprised when it started to cut very poorly after a few months. True, the blades were no longer shiny, and I sanded them a bit, but frankly I don't know the first thing about maintenance. My Felco doesn't cut any better now than my former cheap clippers, and I'm sure it's my fault. I hope someone will have a comprehensive answer to Susan's question.

Ingrid

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 8:57PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I prefer liquid wrench to WD40. I use a little pocket sharpner to keep them sharp and change the blades every winter in time for spring pruning. I'm getting a 2nd pair of felcos. My first pair were a #6 which is great for smaller hands, but not good for some larger branches.

Ingrid, change the blades, they will be like new.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 9:43PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

I just now googled the subject and found out Felco has some excellent illustrated instructions on keeping our pruners in good shape. Mine get sharpened without taking it apart with a small two sided stone that is kept handy by a chair on the patio, but one that would fit in a pocket sounds good. There's a couple of small sharpeners offered on the Felco site. I'm going to check the local hardware store and see what they have.

Here is a link that might be useful: Keep Your Felco Tools Forever ...

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 11:27PM
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rosefolly

If the blade is actually damaged, nicked or no longer meeting the anvil well rather than just dull or dirty, then it needs to be changed. If it is just dull or dirty it can be brought back to usefulness the same way you will maintain a new one. Clean it every day you use it with liquid detergent (I use Palmolive Green) and one of those green scrubbies (I use Scotch-Brite Scour Pads). Get off all the dark colored gunk. It is hardened plant sap and bacteria. Then sharpen the blade. I use one of those folding diamond sharpeners you can get from a hardware store. A few strokes along the bevelled side, then a light cleanup of any burrs from the back and you are back in business. If it has become very dull it may take a little more time with the sharpener.

I use a little light household oil when I put them away. A drop on the spring and a drop on the place where the anvil meets the blade should do it. You are also supposed to take them apart and put some grease (not oil) into the heart of the moving parts, not every time, but once in a while. I have never actually done this myself, but I know I am supposed to do it. Maybe someday. I need to change my blade, so maybe I'll do them both at the same time. I was cutting a small cane and did not see some wire that was next to it and put a bad nick into the blade. I hoped I could sharpen it out, but have not succeeded.

Rosefolly

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 11:44PM
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rosefolly

If the blade is actually damaged, nicked or no longer meeting the anvil well rather than just dull or dirty, then it needs to be changed. If it is just dull or dirty it can be brought back to usefulness the same way you will maintain a new one. Clean it every day you use it with liquid detergent (I use Palmolive Green) and one of those green scrubbies (I use Scotch-Brite Scour Pads). Get off all the dark colored gunk. It is hardened plant sap and bacteria. Then sharpen the blade. I use one of those folding diamond sharpeners you can get from a hardware store. A few strokes along the bevelled side, then a light cleanup of any burrs from the back and you are back in business. If it has become very dull it may take a little more time with the sharpener.

I use a little light household oil when I put them away. A drop on the spring and a drop on the place where the anvil meets the blade should do it. You are also supposed to take them apart and put some grease (not oil) into the heart of the moving parts, not every time, but once in a while. I have never actually done this myself, but I know I am supposed to do it. Maybe someday. I need to change my blade, so maybe I'll do them both at the same time. I was cutting a small cane and did not see some wire that was next to it and put a bad nick into the blade. I hoped I could sharpen it out, but have not succeeded.

Rosefolly

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 12:14AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

The most important thing is to not lose them in the compost pile. That really seems to ruin them.

If you have a knife store nearby, take them in for a professional sharpening. Ask them for a demonstration on how to use honing stones or some other at-home sharpener. If you don't understand what they are showing you, don't touch the blades yourself. If you don't get the angles right, you are actually dulling the blade.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 10:24AM
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landperson

Thanks, folks.
When I posted this I was using the link above (Keeping your Felcos forever) as a guide, and it was very helpful.
The one problem I have had both times I have taken mine apart is that when they are back together even a new spring isn't quite strong enough to get them to open up on their own, and I am always having to use two motions -- a push to re-open and then a squeeze to cut the branch. I haven't quite been able to figure out what adjustment I need to make to loosen this and make them re-open after a cut. If anyone has the secret to that, I'd like to know.

I have 3 Felcos (an almost new #2 that I'm hoping to keep in good repair, the #7 that I took apart and cleaned really well yesterday, and a #8 that spent a season in a compost pile as mentioned in the previous post;'m going to work on the #8s today....)

And I'm going to set myself a "green gritty" and a bit of liquid soap outside where I can get to it fast and easy. Thanks for all the hints and tips.

Susan

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 11:52AM
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kristin_flower(4a)

I got a new pair by Felco bypass hand pruners last year. I can't really tell the difference between them and the cheap hand pruners I was using previously, but then again I've only had them a year. Maybe over time, they would out-perform the cheap ones.

I actually use my big (cheap) bypass loppers from the big box store most often. The hand pruners can not handle anything thicker than a pencil, and I find that the loppers are so much easier to use. The cuts are much cleaner, I can get into the bush better and takes much less effort on my part.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 12:13PM
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trospero(8)

Susan,
The single most important thing you can do to preserve them as long as possible is in fact what you do not do to them; don't cut anything other than woody materials, and don't twist them when cutting into very thick branches. Accidentally getting fencing wire between the blades, for example will pretty much trash them instantly. Luckily, I have been able to avoid that, and so the Felcos I have right now are the only pair I have ever owned. They still have the original blades. They are now close to 20 years old. I can only guess how many hundreds of hours of service they have seen. And yes, I do sharpen the blades twice or three times a year, with an old fashioned sharpening stone.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 12:16PM
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landperson

Thanks Paul: The real reason I have three pair is that I failed my maintenance performances in the past. I am hoping to rectify that in my old age....:-)))) I also have a tendency to use them on branches that are a bit too big and so do the dreaded twist. Maybe keeping my loppers sharper and closer to hand will cure me of that disrespect.

Kristin_Flower: I had exactly the reverse experience of yours. After years of using my Felcos I tried some Coronas, and I had to throw them in the trash they were so useless.

Susan

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 12:27PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

When you keep your Felcos in optimum condition, you're also helping your hands (especially your thumb joints).

The sharper the edge and the smoother the motion, the less the stress on each of our hands.

The misuse of a small Felco trying to cut into two inches of wood...well, once your roses get big, you NEED the big loppers. Well maintained loppers will save you so much time and effort.

When you see rust on the blades, use a very fine sand psper if steel wool won't remove the rust. (How fine? so fine that it feels slightly rough to your finger tips, but never so coarse that you can see individual grains of abrasive.) Never use coarse sandpaper.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 1:18PM
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landperson

Having just had to have an injection of cortisone into my left thumb and even more recently one into my left hip, I am very susceptible to the argument for keeping my Felco's in good condition to keep my body from further degradation. Excellent point !!!!!

Susan

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 1:30PM
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rosefolly

I've been thinking of getting the rotating Felco's at some point. My wrists used to ache mildly when I worked on a keyboard all day. Seems to be better now that I have given that up. I also pull weeds, prune roses, and do a fair amount of hand needlework. I'd like to keep doing all these things, so anything I can do to lessen the impact of any of them seems to be a prudent practice.

Rosefolly

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 5:24PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I've had to accept the fact that I trash mine every year. I'm careful with other stuff, but not Felcos. I found last year's copy the other day under an ivy geranium I was pulling out. It was rusted solid.

Maybe I should start hanging them up on an empty wall with the year inscribed on a plaque underneath each one. Or get them all welded together to form a trellis or something. The possibilities are endless.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2011 at 2:08AM
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Campanula UK Z8

hoovb, I once tossed a pair of felcos in an incinerator- when I eventually found them, they were almost unrecognisable. However, they do clean up, including rust and I even sent them off to be re-dipped as there was not a scrap of red left on them. Even left outside for a year, they are salvageable with a long soak in oil, a go round with some wet and dry and a final sharpening (I have a nifty Bahco sharpener which consists of an orange plastic handle and two slivers of sharpening stone) - there is a flange on the plastic which sets the sharpening angle at 20degrees. Costs hardly anything, fits in a pocket and has been better than the Felco sharpening stones.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2011 at 7:24AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Besides the rust I end up with a space of about a cm between the blades, rendering them useless. Twisting when I cut, I guess. When I said I trash them, I mean trash. Or you Brits say rubbish? Do you say you rubbish things? Probably not.

I have one of those sharpeners--I love it. It's outlasted many pairs of Felcos.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 6:21PM
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landperson

I'm wondering about that sharpener. I looked at it, but it seems as if it sharpens both sides of a blade? Is that right? Certainly you don't want the Felco blade to be sharpened on both sides. A knife, yes, but not your Felcos which are supposed to have one side flat and one side beveled.

I must have mis-understood the way the sharpener works.

Susan

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 6:26PM
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jeannie2009

Oh thank you Hoov...so glad I'm not the only one who has rusted a Felco beyond repair.
I did find a use for it. It's hanging above the shelf where it's replacement rests. Hopefully it will remind me to return the new Felco when I'm done with it.
Jeannie

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 6:49PM
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peachiekean(z10A CA)

I got my Felcos about 6 years ago. I got the holder too and they always go into it. I keep the holder attached to my right pocket (always armed to prune!). Twice a year I hand them over to my husband who loves to sharpen and lube them. (He shines shoes too!) They cut as well as the first day I got them and I have not replaced any parts. I also use two different types of loppers which I never sharpen. One of these days I must remember to do this.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 6:23PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Twice a year I hand them over to my husband who loves to sharpen and lube them. (He shines shoes too!)

Do your rent your husband out? ;^)

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 7:33PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I bought a new pair of #2 Felcos. I have the #6 for small hands, but it's not big enough for big pruning. I've been 'soaking' my #6 and DH's #7 in liquid wrench over night and will clean them and put in new blades. I'm also going to try to find some Plasti-Dip to redip my Felco handles since the plastic is wearing off.

I am also intrigued by the instructions on the Felco site about replacing the rubber cushion and shock absorber parts. Maybe next year I will do that. I'm not good with sharpening and would probably do more harm than good, so I stick with my little plastic sharpener that you drag over the blade (I also use that on my lopers) and replace the blades every year or so.

Paul, did you know that The blades of most Felco pruning shears have with a notch for cutting small diameter wire. No need to carry a wire snip while gardening. So you can cut wire with them, just not on the blade part.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 10:50AM
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