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How Do You Keep Tool Edges Keen?

| 8/5/2010 4:09:07 PM

I think I know why workshops are filled with multiple tools of the same kind. Sure, we need to have a variety of shapes and weights available, but tools frequently aren’t cleaned well after use. So, the next time you grab the tool for a project, it’s dirty or dull and, instead of sharpening or cleaning it, you run out and buy a new one!! My dad had a dozen mudding spatulas!!

The solution to this over-zealous purchasing is to keep your tools clean and sharp — after each use. (I know — what a chore!) You’re right, it is a chore — but in the long run, easier than the alternative of doing it when you really need to use the tool. Cleaning mud from garden shovels and hoes, eliminating the pitch from saw blades, and coating tools with oil to prevent rust are all ways of not only ensuring the tool’s availability for duty but guaranteeing it will last many years longer.

Everyone has their favorite, tried-and-true methods for cleaning goo from metal and protecting tools from the elements. What are some of the techniques for cleaning tools that have worked best for you? Post your advice in the comments section below.

8/14/2010 1:48:46 AM

keep a spray bottle of WD-40 by wherever you store your tools, then its not even a chore. It just becomes habit. This is what my old-school shop teacher taught me :) I'm confused by you comment, Aashi. Would you use the hose like you would a kitchen knife sharpener? I've always wondered how to sharpen things like my sheers...

Aashi Deacon
8/11/2010 9:28:16 AM

You can keep saws and other edges sharp by using pieces of an old hose split longwise.

Don _1
8/11/2010 8:30:38 AM

One of the best ways I learned to keep garden tools, particularly shovels clean, rust free, and sharp is to rinse them off to remove the big chunks, so to speak, then insert them into a 5 gal bucket, which is filled with sand and old motor oil. I learned this from an old New England farmer many years ago. Up there the soil has a high gray clay content in many areas, and digging up the garden in the spingtime was a major chore as that darn clay would cling to the shovel like it was glued on. One day while down at the local feed store I was griping to the clerk about how dang difficult it was to prepare a garden in those parts. Well that ole farmer heard me, stepped right into that conversation and told me to get me a 5 gal bucket, fill it about 3/4 full of sand, then pour in enough old motor oil until the mixture was not quite dry. After that take the used shovel, get the majority of clay and dirt off, them chunk it into the sand, give it a few up and down strokes to scrub the surface and hone the edge, then leave it there until the next time I needed it. I never had a problem with clay sticking to the shovels, nor a rusty tool after that.

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