Garden Gear - Garden Tools

Tuck in your gardening tools

Lee Oliver

Give your gear some TLC before putting it all to bed for the winter

Step 4: Unlike typical kitchen knives, blades of garden cutting tools have a bevel on only one side. Ford says it's also important to pass the flat side of the cutting edge over the stone to get rid of the rough edge, or burr, caused by sharpening. "This is where the cutting action takes place," he says, "so it needs to be smooth." Three or four gentle passes over both the coarse and fine sides should be sufficient.

Step 5: "Before you reassemble the tool," Ford says, "work a couple of drops of Three-in-One oil into hard-to-get-at spots, such as the inside faces of the blades where they bolt together. Then put it back together and coat the blades with a thin layer of motor oil to prevent rusting. With secateurs and loppers, adjust the blades—most have an adjustment screw—until they cut paper just as well as a good pair of scissors, and you're mostly finished."

Step 6: Mostly, except for the handles. If they're unfinished wood, use sandpaper to remove dirt and small splinters, then use a rag to coat them with boiled linseed oil—this keeps the wood from drying out and cracking.

If you have a few handles to do, set the first tool handle-end down in a bucket and apply the oil. The excess will drip into the bucket, which you'll be able to use on the next tool.

If the handles are painted, lightly sand them to remove dirt and splinters and rough up the existing finish, and then apply a fresh coat of oil-based paint.


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