When you’re working in your garden, there’s nothing more frustrating than having a tool that simply will not do its job. Very often the cause of this problem is poor maintenance and care. With time, wear and neglect both manual tools and gas and electric power tools can become dirty, rusty and dull. In this article, we will share some excellent advice and information to help you take good care of your tools so that you can get your garden tasks done quickly and easily. Read on to learn more.
Keeping Your Garden Tools Clean
Sometimes the blades of gardening implements are worn and need sharpening; however, you may be surprised to know that very often they are simply dull because they are dirty. You can avoid struggling and wasting time by simply keeping your garden tools clean.
One of the simplest and easiest steps you can take to do this is to dry off and wipe clean your tools after every use. Keep a supply of clean, dry cloths on hand in your garden shed or at your workbench so that you can easily clean your tools before storing them.
Another item you should keep handy is a can of WD-40. Be sure to keep the joints of all of your tools thoroughly lubricated to prevent them from sticking and possibly breaking. A light spraying of WD-40 over the blades of tools such as grass shears will help protect them against rust and dirt.
Keep Your Garden Tools Sharp
If you keep your tools clean and still find that you have dull blades, the time has come for sharpening. A dull tool is frustrating, hard to work with and potentially dangerous. It can be damaging to whatever you are trying to cut and the plant may take longer to heal. Keeping your tools sharp ensures safe and successful use.
For good sharpening, you will need some simple sharpening tools. Keep these items on hand:
- Coarse file
- Sharpening stone/block
Before sharpening any of your garden tools, make sure the blades are clean. No matter what implement you use for sharpening or what tool you’re working on, a clean surface will sharpen better.
Remove any nicks or bumps from the blade using the file. It is possible to use a grinder but unless you are experienced then it is easy to remove too much metal. Be mindful of damage to non-metal components. Work the file towards the edge of the blade taking care to match the angle of the blade and not to drastically change the shape. Continue along until you get to the end of the blade.
Repeat your movements using the stone, this will hone the blade and remove very sharp but weaker fine edge.
For small items such as scissors and knives, you should use a sharpening stone or sharpening block. A diamond hone can also work for these.
When you purchase your sharpening implements, be sure to read the description of each carefully so you will know exactly how these tools are to be used.
In addition to keeping a close eye on the metal blades of your garden tools, you should also pay attention to the condition of plastic and wooden components (e.g. handles or casings). If you notice a crack developing a plastic casing, take steps to repair it using a super-glue such as Gorilla Glue.
It may be necessary to have this plastic component professionally repaired or even replaced. Don’t use a garden tool that has cracks or other damage to plastic components because doing so could be unsafe.
Gardening tools that have wooden handles need regular care to prevent splintering, cracking and drying out. Keep a canister of linseed oil on hand to wipe down the wooden components of your garden tools after every use.
Keep A Close Eye On Power Tools
In addition to paying close attention to the blades of your power tools, you must also pay attention to electrical and movable parts. Both before and after using electric power tools, be sure to examine the wires and plugs for nicks, fraying or any other damage. Don’t use damaged electrical gardening implements as they may present life threatening danger.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions to be certain that all of the moving parts of any of your power tools are correctly oiled. Be sure to select the right type and weight of oil. Examine the working parts of mowers, chainsaws, hedge clippers and other power tools both before and after use. Keeping them oiled will extend their life and provide for more successful and safe use.
Invest Well & Store Wisely
Another point you should consider when it comes to keeping your tools in good working order is that you get what you pay for. When you purchase your garden tools, always purchase the highest quality you can afford. A solid investment in tools well cared for adds up to years or even decades of good service. Be sure to protect your investment by storing your tools in a setting that is secure against theft.
Remember that your garden tools can be badly damaged by improper storage. You must be sure to keep them in a dry area that has a fairly moderate temperature. Temperature is not especially important for metal tools, but tools that have wood, plastic and rubber components can be damaged by excesses of heat or cold.
Even though garden tools are rugged by nature, improper handling can be damaging. Establish an area in your shed, basement, garage or other secure setting that has a “place for everything”. Follow-up by carefully putting everything in its place when you put your tools away.
Stacking your tools willy-nilly or simply tossing them into a bin is a sure way to damage them and shorten their useful life. Remember that wise investment and proper tool care will result in a lifetime of happy, successful gardening.
About the Author
Jonathan Leger is a sponsored member of the Garden Writer’s Association and a gardening enthusiast. He runs a small site dedicated to the history, education and care of a variety of roses at CabbageRoses.net.