How many of you have gearheads for husbands, or are a gearhead yourself for that matter? Have you ever heard them utter the age-old adage; “take care of your tools and your tools will take care of you!” Well, the same applies to the tools you use in your garden. I know what you’re thinking; all I want to do after a day in the garden is kick my feet up and relax.
Truth be told, your tools will thank you, and last longer if you take care of them properly. It doesn’t take much time to clean, sharpen, and oil garden tools. As a bonus, you won’t have to replace them as quickly as if you had left them to fend for themselves.
Clean Tools Thoroughly:
Grab a cleaning brush with plenty of stiff bristles on it, as well as the tools you recently used and a bucket of warm, soapy water. Take each of the tools and subject it to the business end of the bristle brush. The goal here is to remove as much dirt and grime as possible. Once you are satisfied that the brush has done its job, wash the tools to remove any stuck-on dirt and grime. Rinse your tools and dry them with a towel.
Sand Down Wooden Handles:
Wooden handles will swell and contract as they are subjected to water and weather conditions. This will eventually make them feel rough. Using 80 grit sandpaper, take down any rough sections on the wooden handles of your tools. Finish this process with 120-150 grit sandpaper for a smooth even surface.
If you happen to see any rust spots forming on your tools during this time, use the 80-grit sandpaper to knock it off, it will perform better than the bristle covered brush.
Sharpen Cutting Edges:
From time to time you will want to sharpen the cutting edges of your tools. When this occurs, we recommend using a flat file to hone those surfaces, as this tool can manage all the honing requirements for your tools. In the event a tool has a serious dent in the cutting edge, or is missing a chunk of metal along the cutting edge, now would be a good time to repurpose and replace it, rather than trying to reconfigure the cutting edge back to a useful tool.
When sharpening tools always ensure all safety precautions and measures are taken. Wear adequate eye protection, heavy protective gloves, and a heavy canvas apron to prevent injuries. Use vises to hold the tool being sharpened steady, rather than trying to hold it steady with your hand. Most edged tools have a grind angle along the cutting edge; when sharpening that edge, attempt to replicate that same angle. If you are off on the angle of the edge, the cutting ability of the tool may be adversely affected. If you are unsure of how to proceed, consider contacting a professional service that specializes in sharpening the cutting edges of tools and knives.
When applying oil to your tools, refrain from using petroleum based products, as this will only transfer that contamination into the soil of your garden. Instead, we recommend using something like Boiled Linseed Oil. You can also use citrus based essential oils combined with a carrier oil to create a finishing oil for the wood portions of your tool selection. Apply the oil, allow it to rest for a period of at least 15 minutes, then gently wipe away any excess.
Respect your garden tools and treat them properly and your investment will last far longer than you originally expected!
Do you spend a significant time in the garden? What tools do you use and how do you care for and maintain them? Share any helpful hints, tips, tricks, and suggestions you might have below; we would love to hear from you!