How to Clean and Sharpen Garden Tools?

I own a beautiful garden by my house- every gardener pride himself while saying so.

But you know what, gardening as a task, is hardly as sweet and soft as it sounds. There is a handful of hectic task list that every gardener has to check on a regular basis.

Cleaning and sharpening being two of the vital ones of them, we’ve taken over them to discuss on this post.

So, what we’ll take you through two different sets of steps about how to clean garden tools and how to sharpen garden tools at home. These methods are completely DIY, so you don’t have to break the bank anyway. All we ask for is your attention for the next few minutes, and we promise it to make the last piece of guidance you need in this regard.

Prepared your mind? Let’s proceed-

What Are Some Commonly Used Gardening Tools?

As long as the hectic task of lawn and garden maintenance is concerned, there are a handful of tools that gardeners have to keep in their bucket. The list might go on and on, but we’re about to provide a list of the most generic tools that gardeners can’t help using.

Here are the 15 most commonly used garden tools-

  1. Hand Trowel
  2. Pruning Shears
  3. Digging Shovel
  4. Square Shovel
  5. Trench Shovel
  6. Garden Spade
  7. Garden Hoe
  8. Oscillating Hoe
  9. Garden Knife
  10. Garden Secateurs
  11. Wheel edger
  12. Mulcher
  13. Broad Fork
  14. Garden Pick
  15. Garden Auger

Cleaning Gardening Tools

Any tool that gets into contact with the soil(ground) should be cleaned properly before you store it anyway. There would be mud, specks of dirt, wooden debris, rust– these are the common obstacles that you’ve to deal with when cleaning.

Anyway, while approaching towards the garden tool cleaning process, these are the tools that you would need-

Items You Need

  1. Pressure washer.
  2. Dry cloth.
  3. Soapy water/detergent solution.
  4. Grit paper.
  5. Multi-tool.

Step 1: Wash off the dirt

Some of the dirt is able to take care off with just splashes of water. You can use a sprayer jet with a firm pressure to do that. Applying a pressure variation is a good idea if you want to go deeper into the corners and edges of the garden tool.

Step 2: Scrub the tool

After washing, let the tool dry for a while under the open air. At this stage, there will be some stubborn kind of dirt remaining on the surface of the tool. We would deal with that by scrubbing.

Take a dry cloth to scrub on the active surfaces of the tools. Keep scrubbing until the primary layer of the dirt comes off. Once done, you can apply a mix of soapy water or detergent to take the grimes away.

Step 3: Take off the grimes

If you can separate the blades/metal parts of the cutting or pruning tools at this step, that would be better. Once done, prepare a mix of soap and water to rinse the blades with. Instead of soap, an alkaline-based detergent would be a better choice.

Now, take the metal part into the solution and immerse it for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Based on the amount of dirt, this period has to be decided.

After the grimes and oily grease is loosening up enough, take the tool from the solution and use a brush to scrub on the dirt. The more you scrub the grimes, the better results you will be getting.

Step 4: Clean the handle/non-metal parts

After you’ve taken care of the basic cleaning of metal parts of the tool, shift your radar into the non-metal parts. Usually, it’s made of wood. And in some other cases, plastic made handles are also available instead wooden garden tool handle.

In the case of wood, take a grit paper or sandpaper to clean the dirt. It would take just a few minutes of gentle scrubbing. Being too much rude with scrubbing might bring on negative results, especially with tools that have long handles. So, beware of that.

Step 5: Take care of the rust

The hardest kind of dirt that you have to deal with throughout the process of cleaning is the rust. Because of humidity exposure or water splashes, this stubborn dirt takes place on the bare metal surfaces.

However, based on the amount of rust that your tool has caught up, the remedy will vary. For simple layers, a grit paper would be enough. But if it’s a deep layer of rust, you might call up power tools like oscillating multi-tools.

Step 6: Dry it well

By now, we should have a garden tool which is free of all sorts of dirt, grimes and rust. Now, take a few hours to dry the entire tool. You can assemble the parts back before or after this drying segment. But make sure to not let any water contaminants get in touch with the tool over again.

Once dried, you might apply a coat of greasy layers if you’re intended to store it for a long time. This manner will somehow protect the tool from catching up any further rust build-up.

Sharpening Gardening Tools

When it comes to garden tools like sharpening tools, pruning tools, mowing tools, weeding tools, pruning saws – everything requires sharpening. On broad sense, any gardening tools that have cutting edges, require sharpening after a certain period of usage.

Although, the sharpening process is not one hundred percent same from tools to tools. But we can set a general guideline to follow. And that’s what we’ll be done throughout the next few segments of this article.

Here go the tools you would require-

Items You Need

  • Sandpaper.
  • Bastard type file.
  • Vise.
  • Grinding tool.
  • Water/lubricant.

Step 1: Clean the cutting part of the tool

We’ve covered a complete guide on cleaning gardening tools just a while ago. And going through those set of steps is imperative to proceed with sharpening tools. So, we expect that you have a clean, dirt-free garden tool in hand.

Step 2: Scrub it with sandpaper

To take care of the cutting edge, you need to make it completely exposed. Sometimes, there are obstacles like rust buildup on the cutting edge. If you’ve not taken care of that before, do it now with a piece of sandpaper.

Based on the metal type of your tool, the sandpaper grit might vary a lot. Make sure that you’ve chosen the right one.

Step 3: File it up

The tool that we would call in duty is the file. Now, files have a handful of size and power variations. In terms of length, there are 6 inches to 14 inches of files, and each of them has its own area of application.

However, make sure that you’ve got a bastard cut milling file of the right length to continue with this step. Don’t worry about the word ‘bastard’, as it just means the coarseness of the file itself.

To file it up, you have to separate the cutting edge from the handle, in case the handle creates troubles to hold the tool into a vise. A vise is, by the way, the holder of the tool when you’ll be filing it up.

When you’re done with putting the tool on the vise, tighten the tool up to make sure that no movement of vibration is possible to take place.

Now, match the cutting edge with the bevel of the file, and push the file across the blade. If you continue to push the file off in a proper manner, it should start to reveal the shiny metal gradually.

Remember that a file cuts the sharpening edge only when you push it. In case you apply pressure on the tool while pulling, it will make the surface dull instead of sharpening it up.

After a few strong, check out the sharpness of the edge, and ensure that you’re doing it in the right process. Once done, clean off the metal dust and debris.

Step 4: Use grinder(optional)

Filing is almost a universal way to sharpen a tool made of metal. But having said that, some of the tools would not be enough to sharp with just a file. In case the tool is made of quite hardened metal, it would ask for a power tool to sharpen it up.

The most commonly used power tool used in this regard is a grinder. It’s electrically powered, and it contains a metal wheel that circulates at high RPM. When you get the cutting edge of the tool in touch of it, the grinding wheel takes the responsibility to reveal the shiny, sharp portion of the edge.

In terms of process and usability, sharpening with a grinding tool is not hard at all. All you have to do is put the cutting edge to the grinding wheel at the proper angle. Therefore, you need to know the bevel angle of both the tool and the grinding wheel.

Step 5: Clean up and check

After completing the sharpening process with either filing or grinding, you should have a clean, sharp, shine garden tool in hand. Once done, clean the whole metal part off with warm water splashes. In case you want to store the tool anyway, put it under a coat of lubricating materials like grease, oil, etc.

General Garden Tools Maintenance Tips

Before we end our article on how to clean and sharpen garden tools, we’d like to list something important down. Whether it’s pruning tools, cutting tools or cultivating tools, there are some general maintenance tips that might boost the lifespan and impact of your garden tools.

Here goes the list-

Warm up before it’s winter

Whenever winter season is about to take place, beware of the cleaning and sharpening chores. Because winter is the busiest season for any gardener. And having a sharp and shiny set of gardening tools will be a great plus!

Proper coating is the key

While you’re about to store your gardening tools for a long period of time, make sure that you’ve coated them well. A good, thick coat can be enough to protect it from rusting, dulling, etc while it’s off duty. Also, a thick layer of coat makes cleaning easier.

Keep the tools dry

Tools that come up with metal sharpening edge, can easily catch up rust if you keep them in a humid environment for a long time. Keeping it in touch with water would do the same kind of damage.

So, no matter if you’re using the tool or not, keep the tool in a dry place, and prevent rust buildup right away.

Make sure that your blade is solidly built

The whole purpose of sharpening garden tool is to bring the cutting edge(blade) back in form. But what if your blade is not built in a way to stay in good health? Well, this might happen if you end up purchasing a garden tool that is made of a poor metal blade. On the other hand, brands like Fiskars use hardened steel, which is good enough to allow the blade to stay sharp all season long.

Make sure the bolts are tight

Right after you are done with cleaning and sharpening the tools, it will be a time when you have to assemble them back. You can use a strong driver to put the bolts strongly attached. Because a loosely connected garden tool parts can break apart anytime, and ruin the entire purpose of it.

Summary Line

Whoa! That had been quite a journey so far. Thanks for going through the steps and actions of how to clean and sharpen garden tools. But before ending, we’d love to remind you of something very important while continuing with the processes. And that is to keep yourself safe enough from the possible accidents that might occur in the midst of these processes. Keep this in mind for other similar tasks like sharpening loppers, sharpening shears,

Make sure to wear on essential safety accessories like gloves, boots, glasses (if required) and keep yourself at a safe distance from the cutting edges of your garden tools.