Tool Sharpening

Here's a cabin fever remedy for gardeners - this is one you can do while watching your favorite TV shows. Plus you'll be glad you did it when spring rolls around!

Once you have cleaned soil off of your tools with steel wool and rough sandpaper (for rust spots), disinfect them with either a 10% bleach solution or alcohol - remember that there are pros and cons to disinfectants (bleach is corrosive and alcohol is flammable) and they should be handled with care. I like to use a bastard file (no, I don't know how the name came about!) for the first step in sharpening shovels, hoes and machetes. If your tool has a bevel, remember that only that side gets sharpened and you should maintain the same angle (usually around 45 degrees for a shovel). The file is used for rough work, then a honing stone is used for the actual edge - remember to put oil on the stone to keep it from clogging with metal dust. Use a smooth motion in one direction - it's actually quite similar to filing one's fingernails, In fact, I tell people that if they can file their own nails, then they can sharpen their own tools!

The goal is to get a nice edge on the blade without removing too much metal. Next, use sandpaper to remove any burs or rough spots and finish by wiping the blade with oil. Pruning shears and loppers need a smaller angle to the bevel and should be taken apart to sharpen. Felco makes a handy sharpening tool for pruners that is worth investing in. Remember that like good kitchen knives, sharp tools makes for less effort and are safer than dull, chipped ones. Come visit us here at Unity for more tips!

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