Tips to Keep Tools in Shape

Lucy Mercer
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Garden tools allow you to take on heavy and difficult tasks with relative ease, but exposure to the elements can corrode them. Protect your investment by following these guidelines:

  • Rust is the enemy of tools, so never leave them outside once the job is done. After use, clean with water and hang up to dry. Remember that acid is corrosive to metal. This is especially important with pruners and cutting tools. Clean sticky sap off the blades, as it can harbor diseases that could be transferred to other plants.
  • Remove rust with steel wool and coat with gear oil to store.
  • Seal wood handles with mineral oil before storing.
  • To overwinter and store your garden tools, coat them with a lubricant such as WD-40 or heavy gear oil and let dry. You can also make a bucket of oiled sand to store tools. In a 5-gallon bucket filled with sand, pour in ¾-quart motor or mineral oil. Clean tools can be stored directly in the bucket.

And don’t forget to protect the gardener’s most important tool: your hands. A good pair of gardening gloves will protect your hands and allow you to easily do many jobs. They will protect your hands while digging in the dirt, or help prevent cuts and blisters when dealing with thorns, or clearing brush, toting wheelbarrows and using heavy equipment. Plus, gloves keep your hands warm on winter mornings.

Look for gloves that are waterproof, ones that extend past your wrists, and that fit. There are many sizes and styles available, so be sure to try them on.

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