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

Cleaning earth movers
It's time to turn your attention to the earth movers—shovels, hoes, spades, forks and cultivators. Follow the same cleaning process.

Step 1: Use a rag, wire brush and paint thinner to remove dirt and caked-on earth, and steel wool to buff away rust and smooth the surfaces.

Step 2: Forks, rakes and cultivators don't need to be sharpened, says Ford, though you may need to straighten tines. You can do this by hand, or by mounting the tool in a vise and using a Vise-Grip to pull teeth back into position.

Step 3: For sharpening shovels, hoes and spades, it's easier to use a file than a stone. The file choice is simple: flat file for flat edges, round file for curved edges.

If your file has a coarse and a fine side, use the coarse side first. Hold the file at a 45-degree angle to the blade and run it from the tip of the cutting edge back along the bevel toward you. Move the file along the edge in one pass—about 10 passes will restore a keen edge.

Step 4: Next, lightly cover the metal parts with motor oil, clean up the wooden handles with sandpaper and coat them with boiled linseed oil or paint.

Step 5: Store tools by hanging them on a garage or shed wall, out of harm's way—especially important if they're sharp. Don't leave them propped in a corner, with metal heads resting on a concrete floor—concrete conducts moisture, which promotes rust.

With the last tool cleaned, sharpened and hung on the wall, it may be time to prepare yourself for a long winter's nap. The tools for that job include a fireplace, fluffy slippers and a decent bottle of wine...but that's another story.

Photo from istock/cjp


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