Cleaning, Sharpening and Protecting Your Gardening Tools
Ok, we are all guilty of leaving a tool or two dirty or dull. Who wants to do maintenance of garden tools when there are plants to tend? The fact is that gardening tools need love and care, just like flowers and vegetables, and if you neglect them, they will either break, or make your gardening experience less than optimal. So how often do you need to maintain those garden tools? Well, at least at the start and end of the season, but if you are like us on the farm, with heavy garden tool use, you should do it weekly or at least twice per month. So what is required? See below, and note, for convenience, at the end of the post are picture links to the Amazon products I used.
Clean Your Garden Tools
A brisk cleaning of your garden tools can be done after every outing. Leaving dirt caked on the tool and handle invites rust and decay. You can wash them with a hose and remove all dirt, but you can also wash them with a brush and some mild detergent. Dry them with a towel and let them sit in the shade to dry.
Removing Rust from Garden Tools
Rust is the devil when it comes to garden tools, and unfortunately, they live in the perfect environment for this killer: heat, water and dirt. The best way to keep rust at bay is proper storage and a daily cleaning. If rust prevails, get out some steel wool and start scrubbing. The rust should come off with a few strokes. You can also apply some light oil or WD40 to loosen the rust. Be sure and wipe your tools clean when done.
Taking Care of Garden Tool Handles
The garden is harsh on steel, but even more harsh on wood handled tools. If you are like us, you love your wood handles, and probably don’t tend to them as often as you should. If you have neglected your handles over time, fear not, a little sand paper can take away the greyness of time, and help to restore the beauty of the wood. Wooden handles require an oil like boiled linseed oil for protection. Apply the oil to the handle and let it soak up the love. All wood handles can take an application, even your Hori Hori Garden Tool. WARNING: Read the label on linseed oil rags, and do not leave them out and about when done, they generate great heat as they dry and can combust! Take it from someone who experienced this first hand.
Sharpening Garden Tools
If you have ever dug with a dull shovel, or tried to prune a tree with dull garden scissors, you know it just makes the job harder. Tools can be sharpened with a variety of methods, outlined below:
- With a nice metal file
- With a Dremel Tool
- Using a grinder or grinding wheel
- With diamond stone sharpeners
- With a Whetstone
You don’t need something fancy, a simple sharpener with do, and there are different methods for each tool (standby for focused posts on Sharpening Your Garden Tools).
For convenience, see our diamond sharpening paddles that provide a quick and easy way to sharpen your tools.