IN THE GARDEN:
January is a great time to clean, oil and sharpen garden tools. Here's a quick guide for how to get your tools in shape for the spring!
Start by gathering:
Protective Eyewear and Gloves
Boiled Linseed Oil
First, thoroughly clean all surfaces of your tools with isopropyl alcohol on a rag. Remove all dirt and get into the cracks to make sure they don't have any leftover garden residue that could cause rusting. Isopropyl alcohol disinfects surfaces and prevents the spread of any fungus or pests.
For the tools with blades (loppers, pruners, shovels and shears) use a file to hone the edge to ensure a sharp blade for clean cuts. Files come in different sizes but most tools can be sharpened with a simple flat file. Make sure to wear protective gloves and eyewear and to secure the tools with a vice for safety. The blade of the tool, whether it's a shovel, loppers or hand pruners, will have a bevel already established so use that angle to sharpen the blade with the file. Move the file from the tip to the bottom of the edge of the blade with light pressure moving away from you. This will take a little bit of practice and different levels of skill depending on the tool.
Next you will want to oil your tools to protect them against rust. Boiled linseed oil is recommended. Just apply the oil to a rag and rub over the metal and wood parts of all of your tools. Allow them to air dry for a few hours. The oil creates a barrier between air and water which reduces oxidation and rust on your tools.
Finally, store your tools properly. A clean, dry, protected area, aka not out in the rain, will make your tools last many years.
Ideally, you should clean your tools every time you use them, but following these steps during the off season will make up for summer time neglect.