Tool care time!
Cleaning and sharpening your tools regularly keeps them working well and means they're as safe as possible to use. Plus, it's the environmentally friendly thing to do because they'll last longer, reducing waste.
We'll be running some tool care sessions during the autumn to help people get their gardening tools back into tip-top condition- but ahead of that, here's a quick look at a trusty pair of rather worn loppers.
Here we have a decent pair of loppers. They're years old but still work well for heavy-duty cutting.
The two bolts holding them together are a good sign- they mean you can take the loppers apart easily for maintenance.
Like this! Loppers in bits, and having had a good wash and scrub.
These loppers weren't rusty and had been regularly wiped clean after use- so they really only needed treating with water and a bit of elbow grease (and an old toothbrush) to get the bits out of the trickier nooks and crannies.
More battered tools might benefit from soaking in white vinegar to loosen the rust, then scrubbing with fine wire wool.
Once the loppers were clean, the blade was sharpened using whetstones. The blade was a bit notched due to a few unfortunate encounters over the past few months, so it did need working on with coarse through fine stones.
And here they are, all back together again and nicely oiled. The action feels much smoother and the resharpened blade snips through branches with hardly any effort at all.
The secateurs (and the spanner) have had the same treatment- they'll be good to go for years to come with this kind of maintenance.
Sometimes I think it's easy to regard old wood and iron tools as precious because they're pretty and nostalgic (and yes, they are great- oiling the wood until it's shiny is particularly lovely- rows of shiny tools look so nice!)- but these plastic and metal modern workhorse tools are great too, and deserve a bit of care.
Leaving a patina on the tools is, I think, a good idea- aside from being far easier than returning tools to "as new" (which you won't manage with faded or worn handles, anyway), it gives you a bit of a feeling of history, reminding you of all that time that trusty tool has spent performing its tasks.
My favourite tools to maintain are hoes. There's something ridiculously satisfying about having a hoe sharp enough to cut through any weed with only a tiny push!
We'll hope to see you at some of our maintenance sessions later in the year!