Garden Tools: Older Can Be Better

Judi Depeal
March/April 2006
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You can save money and find better quality tools by seeking out older, used garden tools.

Older shovels and hoes are often stronger than modern versions because they were forged from one piece of solid metal. Where can you buy used tools? Flea markets, garage sales, auctions, estate sales, barn sales and second-hand stores are good places to start. The prices can vary, but you can usually buy common tools for less than $15.

The trick to buying secondhand garden tools is to look for solid construction on any welded points and pay special attention to where the metal attaches to the handle. If a tool has parts that are supposed to move, make sure they do. Another thing to look for on metal is heavy pitting and flaking, which weakens the metal so the tool might be better suited for decoration than garden work.

When shopping for edge tools like hoes or shovels, take along a file to test
the quality of the steel. If the file cuts rapidly with minimal pressure,
the blade is made of soft metal that won't stand much use.

Check that the handle is securely attached and be sure that it is not badly cracked or splintered. Inspect for cracks, past repairs and rotting. Watch out of handles and metal parts that have been repainted ? the paint may be covering up cheap construction or damage.

Post a comment below.


6/9/2006 12:00:00 AM
There's some good tips for caring for your garden tools on While many of these older tools are better constructed, they are often rusty. There are effective and environmentally friendly rust removal products that can remove the rust and have the tools performing as good as new in no time.

3/21/2006 12:00:00 AM
I love the history behind Older garden tools. When I use a well-worn tool, I think about the generations of people who have used it before me and imagine their lives. Plus, the handles are usually nicely smoothed over from years of use, which makes for no spliters!

AMY Lassiter
3/21/2006 12:00:00 AM
I have been blessed with the garden tools that once belonged to my great-great grandparents, and were eventually passed down the generations to me. They are hand-crafted and specially made for certain gardening needs, including the specific soil in my region. I feel as if I have a direct link to my families' love of the earth as I use each tool, and I think of all of the wonderful harvests that they must have yielded.

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