Tool Time

Get those garden tools ready for work before the season starts.

November 26, 2010

Shovel Maintenance


1. Dip a soft cotton cloth in linseed oil and then coat the rusty sections of your shovel with a thin layer of the oil. Scrub off the rust with steel wool or a wire brush with stiff bristles. Apply firm pressure and use downward brushstrokes as you scrub. Be sure to wear gloves. Remove the rusty residue with a soft cloth. Then clean the blade in soapy water and dry it.

2. To sharpen the blade, use a flat metal file. This is easiest if you use a bench vise or C-clamps to hold the shovel steady while you file. Clamp the shovel to the workbench with its blade facing up. Position the file at a 45-degree angle to the blade, placing pressure on the outer edge of the blade. Begin filing at the bottom of the blade by drawing the file toward the handle using a firm, steady stroke. Draw the file in only one direction. Check the sharpness after each stroke with the file.

3. If your shovel has a wooden handle, sand it with a piece of fine sandpaper to smooth out splinters and rough sections. Clean off the sawdust with a cloth and then coat the handle with linseed oil to nourish the wood.

Sharpen those pruners, too!