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Keeping Garden Tools on the Cutting Edge Makes Jobs Easier

June 12, 1993|From Associated Press

Keeping the cutting and digging edges of tools sharp not only makes gardening easier but prevents breaking a handle by applying too much pressure.

In general, if a cutting edge is very dull or nicked, it should be power-ground or filed to remove nicks and restore the bevel.

It should then be finished to a sharp edge on an oiled whetstone or with a slipstone that's shaped for that particular tool.

* To sharpen a digging tool, place the tool in a vise and use a coarse 10-inch file to restore the original edge (usually a 45-degree bevel).

* Sharpen the corners as well as the cutting edges on hoes and shovels.

* Be sure to sharpen your hoe on the correct side--the inside edge--so that you can pull it through the soil with considerable ease.

* You can also use your electric drill to keep your garden tools sharp. A coarse aluminum oxide disc can put an edge back on a nicked ax or mower blade much faster than a file and whetstone. Do it quickly so the high-speed sanding doesn't heat the steel and ruin its temper.

To remove rust from tools, use a wire brush attachment on an electric drill to scour it away. Or rub them with a soap-filled steel wool pad dipped in kerosene or turpentine, then give them a brisk rub on wadded aluminum foil.

Wear safety goggles when using a brush attachment on a drill. Wear rubber gloves when working with kerosene or turpentine.

After use, store your long-handled gardening tools on hooks instead of leaning them against the wall.

They'll take less space, be easier to select and you won't trip over them.

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