Take care of your garden tools and they will take care of you. Your garden tools will last a lot longer (especially those with wooden handles) if you show them a little love every once in a while. So take a little time to clean, sand, sharpen and oil your garden tools.
Cleaning – Round up all your tools, a bucket of warm water and a wire or stiff bristle brush. Start with the brush and knock off the majority of the dirt on your tools. Once you have the dirt removed, scrub any remaining dirt off with the warm water. Rinse and let them air dry or wipe them with a towel.
Sand – Once your garden tools are dry, it’s a good time to sand any wooden handles. Moisture, whether it’s from water in the soil, dew or rain will raise the grain of the wood, making it feel rough. Just about any sandpaper will work for this, but we suggest starting out with an 80 grit paper and finishing off with a 120-150 grit for a nice smooth handle surface.
Rust – Take care of any rust on your tools. A wire brush is a good option for knocking off the majority of rust, especially in those tight spaces, but you’ll find that the 80 grit sandpaper will do a better job.
Sharpen – You can sharpen your tools with range of tools, but most gardeners find that a flat file will handle all their sharpening needs. Every tool blade typically has some sort of edge bevel on it, so 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 end up transferring that oil from your tools to the soil in your garden. Use Linseed Oil, it’s a natural product from the seeds of the flax plant. It evaporates after application and can be used on the metal and wood parts of your tools. Just apply it liberally all over you tool, let it sit for about 15 minutes and then wipe off excess.
Rust on any of your tools is the result of oxygen and water reacting with the metal, so the purpose of the oil is to create a barrier between the metal and oxygen/water.
That’s it, protect your investment in garden tools and they will last a very long time.