January Garden Chores
By Bob Dailey
It’s time to look after your tools, folks. Spring is just a couple of months away, and you’re going to want your garden tools to be in good shape.
Here are some problems and solutions:
Remember that tool you noticed was a little rusty before winter started and planned to get rid of the rust, but just forgot about it?
First, wash any dirt from the tool.
Next, soak the tool in regular household vinegar for about 12 hours. This can remove rust from almost every tool. If the tool has been sitting out somewhere and has a pretty thick layer of rust, soak it for up to 24 hours.
There will probably be some gunk on the tool once you remove it from the vinegar. Now take a steel brush, sanding block, or a Dremel brush – or if a large tool, a drill with a steel brush attachment and remove anything not metal.
Clean the tool with warm soapy water, dry it thoroughly, then coat with boiled linseed oil (available at most hardware and big box stores).
If your tool has a wooden handle, rub some linseed oil on the wood as well. It will extend the life of your handle and restore the color of the wood.
For small tools, like pruners, use a small, hardened steel diamond-coated sharpening stone to hone only one side of the cutting blade (the outer side) at a 45-degree angle to the blade. This same tool can be used to sharpen digging knives, pocketknives, and other small tools. Next, use the finer side of the file to remove any burs caused from sharpening.
For larger tools, use a regular 8-inch farmer’s file on the cutting edge. For instance, when sharpening a hoe, file the outside of the blade until it’s sharp, then the fine side to remove burs. After you remove the burs, run your thumb lightly along the back of the hoe – the side facing you when you use it – to see if it is smooth.
Sharpening Mower Blades
Dull mower blades can damage your lawn. Instead of cutting the blade cleanly, it will shred the tops of the blades and reduce the grass’s ability to grow back. There are several ways to do this.
Remove the blade from the mower. Set the blade into a vise. Use a hand file at a 45-degree angle to sharpen. You can also use a drill with a hardened steel stone to sharpen it too.
Another way to sharpen the blade is to use a bench grinder. It doesn’t take long using any of these methods.