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Sharon R. Hill,
CHRISTIAN COUNTY —Gardening is in full swing but there are many gardening chores that may have been neglected. One of those is the cleaning and sharpening of tools. If you are finding it hard to get that spade in the ground or the trowels are a little dull, maybe the tools need to be cleaned and sharpened. Idealy cleaning and sharpening garden tools should be done after the gardening season before putting them up for storage. But maintaining garden tools should also be done many times during the gardening season on a regular basis. Tools left dirty or rusty may begin to be dull and harder to use and causes more effort to use.
Items needed to clean and sharpen tools are gloves, protective eye wear, three in one oil, tool files or sharpening stones, rags, paper towels, WD-40, some sort of disinfecting wipes, steel wool, stiff scrub brush, soap and water, a black permanent marker and newspapers or something to protect the work area from dirt and rust and oil that coats the edges of tools.
After taking protective measurers for eyes and hands, clean the tool by first scraping dirt from the tool or wash with soapy water and soft rag. A stiff scrub brush may be needed for stubborn stains and steel wool for rust. Dry thoroughly. For tools that need to be sharpened, a tool file or sharpening stone may be needed. First coat the cutting edge of the tool on both sides completely with black permanent marker. The marker will disappear when the blade is being sharpened at the right angle. Sharpen blades with the file or stone at the same angle that is on the tool. Little pressure is needed to sharpen tools so go lightly. Some tools do not have a sharp edge on both sides such as some pruners. Only sharpen the side with a bevel. Run a cloth along the blade or fine sandpaper on the back of the blade to check for nicks and roughness. Do not run a finger down the blades to check for sharpness. WD-40 is a good lubricant for pruners, loppers and scissors and most pivot points on tools after being cleaned. Be sure to clean wooden handles thoroughly and apply a thin coat of oil or wax for long life.
When using tools on plants, shrubs, trees or in vegetable gardens, care should be taken to wipe blades with disinfectant wipes after each cut or before using on the next plant. A fungus is easily transported from one plant to another unless the tools are disinfected in between uses. It helps to clean tools after each use before putting tools away to prevent rust from forming. Store tools in a dry area. If taken care of, tools should last for a long time. Happy gardening.