How to Care for and Sharpen Gardening Tools

January 16, 2016

Where would we be without our trusty gardening tools? Treat them to a little bit of TLC and they should last for many years.

Cultivation tools as well as pruners will benefit from a good sharpen as well as a clean, and this is the ideal time to look over your hard-working tools to make sure they’re in tip-top condition.

Caring for and Sharpening Digging Tools

Always clean off any tools that come into contact with the soil before storing. Blast mud off with a jet of water from the hose, or if dirt has hardened soak metal parts first, then wipe clean with an old rag.

Digging tools and hoes need an occasional coating of oil (any vegetable-based oil will do) to prevent the blades or tines from rusting. Use a wire brush to remove any ingrained dirt or rust spots, then wipe clean with a rag. Use a clean cloth to apply the oil.

To sharpen digging tools and hoes, use a metal file on both the front and back edges of the blade, working at a shallow angle. Clamping the tool in a vice will make this easier. Finish by oiling the blade edges.

Wooden handles can be cleaned then smoothed off with sandpaper or a sanding sponge. Polish them with a natural, protective oil such as teak oil.

Caring for and Sharpening Pruning Tools

After using pruning tools, remove any ingrained dirt or sap using a wire brush or wire wool if necessary. Wash them in soapy water then dry them.

To sharpen pruners, loppers and shears, hold the tool firmly in position and use a file, whetstone or sharpening stone appropriate to the size of the blade to sharpen it. Only sharpen the cutting blade itself, working the stone in the same direction as the bevel – two to five passes of the file or stone should be enough. Smaller blades may need to be worked in a circular motion.

Now tighten up any loose bolts on moving parts and check if any worn-out parts need replacing. Finish by spraying with a tool lubricant. Don’t forget to apply lubricant throughout the year, particularly after heavy periods of pruning.

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Reader Comments

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Clean Sharp and Oiled

I had no idea how to sharpen my pruners, I have been just buying a new pair when they are dull. I like the pruners I have right now and would like to keep them, I will try and sharpen them. Also, I had not thought of oiling my tools, will have to go out and do that as well. I was reading through the others comments, I have a bag of sand, will be trying the bucket of sand and oil to keep my tools clean and sharp. There is nothing more frustrating than a dull gardening tool.

sharpening with a file

Rub some chalk into your file before sharpening this catches metal filings making it easier to clean your file after sharpening

Caring for tools

Granddad always kept a bucket of sand with a little oil in it sitting around near where he stored his garden tools. When he used a tool, he shoved the tool down into the sand or drug it through the sand a few times; this cleaned the tool as well as kept it oiled to prevent rust.

winterizing tools

was very helpful for me, thank you.

caring for garden tools, didn't know how to sharpen my pruners

I enjoyed it very much.


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