OK, it’s that time of the year and every fall we (I) need a reminder to do a little garden tool maintenance. Most of us are done or almost done gardening for the year, but before you head in to hibernate for the winter…and when I say hibernate, I mean planning next years garden and perusing all those catalogs – Clean, Sand, Sharpen and Oil your tools.
Clean – Gather all your tools, a bucket of warm water, a stiff bristle or wire brush. Start by removing most of the dirt on metal parts with the wire brush. Once you have the largest part of the dirt removed, scrub the remaining dirt with the brush and warm water…rinse well and let air dry or wipe with a towel. (men…not the nice towels)
Sand – Once dry, now is a good time to sand the wood handles. Water, whether from the hose, in the soil or from dew on a tool left out overnight tends to raise the grain on wood, making it feel rough…so light sanding will bring it back to a nice smooth comfortable finish.
Sharpen – Nows a good time to sharpen all your tools, so they’ll be ready for next spring. Sharpening can be done with a variety of tools, but most gardeners can get away with just using good 8-12 inch flat file. This can be a dangerous operation if you don’t have the tool secured properly, so secure it in a vise if you have one, clamp it to a table or just get someone to sit on it…just make sure it’s secure before you start sharpening. Every tool blade typically has some sort of bevel on it. Just try to file it at the same angle that is already there. Too much (steep) angle will indeed make your tool very sharp, but because the leading edge is so thin, it will be subject to damage by the smallest of stones, so try to stick with the angle that is there.
Oil – Do not use any petroleum based oil on your garden tools…you’ll just be transferring that oil to your garden the next time you use that tool in your soil. Here at Garden Tool Co., we only use Boiled Linseed Oil. It’s a natural product from the seeds of the flax plant (except for the solvent used to keep it from hardening in the can…it evaporates after application) and can be used on the metal and wood parts of your tools. On the metal, it will prevent rust and will keep your wood handles from drying out and cracking. Just apply it liberally all over you tool, let it sit for about 15 minutes and then wipe off excess. Note: because of the solvents in boiled linseed oil, be sure to read the instructions on the can for rag disposal.
That’s it, you’re ready for next spring.
Please visit Garden Tool Co. if you need a garden tool sharpener.