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Keeping tools sharp

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

What is the best way to sharpen your tools?

I've sharpened my hoe many times,(I may not be doing it correctly though) but have never done so with a spade. Is it necessary? Does it harm the tool?

You have to have sharp lawnmower blades just to cut grass, so what about your digging tools?

Fort Collins, CO(Zone 5a)

A sharp garden tool is going to make any gardening job easier and it really doesn't take much time if you check your tools often and sharpen when necessary. While there are electric tools that will speed up the process, but my favorite way to sharpen most garden tools is with a flat Mill file that can be purchased at any hardware store. Note: most files come without a handle, so buy the handle too, your hands will thank you.

Because of the different shapes and lengths of your tools, the hardest part of sharpening your tool will be clamping it in a position that will allow you to file the blade comfortably. This can be accomplished with a bench vise secured to a heavy table or using hand clamps to hold it in place on a bench. Just make sure the tool does not move when filing.

When sharpening, make sure you wear heavy gloves and file away from the blade. While the file will take off material either way you push the file, filing away from the blade will lessen the chance of cutting yourself when filing. Start filing any dings or nicks in the blade and then work the length of the blade. (people with rocky soils know all too well about these nicks in their tool blades)

Finally, sharpen your blade to a nice consistent sharp edge, but not too sharp, you're not trying to create a knife edge. A blade that is sharpened at too shallow of an angle (knife like) will be fragile, will damage easier and require sharpening more often.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Does it matter what side of the blade you sharpen from as long as you're consistent?

Fort Collins, CO(Zone 5a)

Melody, most tools have a leading or cutting edge that should be sharpened, but don't neglect filing the back as well. Usually, the back of the blade is flat any you should file any nicks or dents to keep the blade flat on that backside.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

That's what I've been doing with mine...they're ancient though, and lived through a pretty busy life with various relatives. I'm guessing most of them are older than me, but are well-built and still serviceable. I've had to replace a handle or two over the years, but the steel is well-forged and nice.

I've picked up some orphans at estate auctions though that really need some TLC (who can resist a pile of hand tools for $5) Some end up getting pitched, but there is usually a couple of higher quality pieces in each group.

Fort Collins, CO(Zone 5a)

The old forged tools, though sometimes hard to find, are definitely worth taking the time to refurbish...they are lifetime tools.

Brooklyn, NY(Zone 7b)

I sharpen everything from my knives and chisels to garden tools with my belt sander.. be sure to not get them too hot and remove the temper of the steel.. just dip them in or splash water to quinch.. like the knives I always sharpen both sides.. [ V ] even if sometmes the back is just sanded flat..
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fo replacment handles.. for hand favored one is the top of ski poles... I cut the rubber grips off with a tubing cutter.. or hacksaw and epoxy them to the tool.. they often come with a nice nylon strap ... I'm always finding one pole in the winters trash.. the other pole having been lost or broken.. the remainder of the pole is a perfect... very long lasting aluminum garden pole or stake... I must have dozens of them

Lake Toxaway, NC(Zone 7a)

what about sharpening rose cutters? Mine look pretty complicated because of the ratcheting open postition it returns to after every cut.

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