Friday, 21 January 2011

Chapter 4.... T.L.C.T.

  Tender Loving Care for Tools :)
Now I appreciate that some of you may find this post just a little bit tedious, as tool maintenance isn't exactly rip-roaring fun, but these jobs do have to be done every year nonetheless (but I hear you say, "just maybe not blogged about by some boring seedaholic".... so I shall endeavour to remember not to repeat it all for you next year ;)
 I decided that as I have a whole load of work clearing up the gardens ahead of me in the next few weeks, and the weather is currently more suited to indoor work in the evenings, now is the right time to clean up all my tools and show them how much I love them (and rather selfishly to make my life easier while using them :) after all... look after your tools, and they will look after you ;)

Stage 1. Cleaning
 Gather all your tools up and give them a good scrub off with a stiff brush, a damp cloth or some soapy water, but don't get any wooden handles too wet if you can help it.  Dry them thoroughly afterwards with an old towel (don't tell Sarah but I pinched a good one out of the house ;)

Stage 2. Repair
 Repair any damage or replace any worn parts on the tools next. I decided that the only bit I needed to replace this year was the blade on my secateurs as it was years old.... a quick trip to that magical mystery land "the internet" where you type what you want in the search box, a few passwords later and Bob's your uncle, one new Felco blade turns up on your doorstep..... sorted. Oh how i love online shopping!! :)  Other than that, the only other maintenence needed was a bit of rust removal on a few things..... but nothing that a bit of WD40 and some scotchbrite wouldn't fix.

Stage 3. Sharpening
 Out came the oil stone for this one, but a decent fine file or sharpening stone would do if you don't have an oil stone. Make sure all of your tools are sharp, they will work so much easier when you use them next.  I won't write anything about sharpening here, i'll tag on a link to a site at the end if you want to know how to do it. I prefere to disassemble my tools to sharpen them if i can, I just find it's easier to do a good job that way.

Stage 4. Oiling
 Once all your tools are clean and sharp, it's just a case of oiling the handles and rustproofing any bare metal.  Rub a good coat of Linseed oil into any wooden handles with a cloth (I love the smell of Linseed oil...... I might contact Calvin klein and see if they can add some to one of their after shaves :) then when the first coat has soaked in, stick another coat on to finish it off.  Then use an oily rag to wipe over any bare metal parts, or spray with some WD40, and that just stops any rust forming on the surface.  If you have stainless tools, you can omit the wipe with an oily rag if you like, as your stainless tools wont really rust anyway (I still oil mine however, but I think I have a touch of OCD :) For my spades and trowels etc I have an old bucket that I have filled with dry sand, then poured a load of clean oil into, and it makes a great tool for just pushing your trowels and forks into a few times, and it then cleans and oils them for you at the same time.

Stage 5. Sit back and admire your nicely maintained tools
 I have a feeling that I may be on my own here for stage 5.... who on earth sits back and admires a range of gardening implements for fun!?! ..... anyone??? ... just as I suspected.... only me :)

Here's a link to a pretty helpful site I just searched out for the sharpening info, which probably explains it all better than I could anyway....
Caring for your garden tools

 Well thats it people, my lecture is over for today. I'm all tooled up and ready to do some serious damage to the garden (well, that's if I can bear to see my tools dirty again :). Until the next time..... happy gardening :)

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