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Sharpening Techniques for Different Garden Tools II

2016-10-11

What other tool maintenance do I need to worry about? Well, handles are an important component of all garden tools and need to be kept in good condition. Tighten loose screws or bolts as needed. Clean handles with a stiff-bristle brush, and use medium grit sandpaper to smooth wood and remove splinters. Use boiled linseed oil to prevent wood handles from drying out, cracking, and splintering. Be sure to read and understand the oil label. Or, as an alternative, use a rubber coating spray on wood handles to give them a better grip and to reduce wear and tear.

Saws: Pruning, camping and bow saws are typically not sharpened, because replacement blades are relatively inexpensive. Typically, chain saws are the only type of saws that are sharpened due to the cost of replacement blades. When sharpening any saw, both a cross-cut file with a rounded edge and triangular file will be needed. Be sure the size of the file matches the size of the teeth being sharpened. Sharpen teeth so that they retain their original angles.

Axes: Not all axes have the same blade angle, so it’s important to follow the original angle. Also, many axes have a double tapered angle composed of a ½ to 1 inch long angle that extends roughly 1/16 of an inch from the edge of the blade toward the handle, and a sharper angle, roughly 1/16 of an inch wide at the cutting edge.

Inspect the blade for chips or nicks, and remove them with a grinder, being careful not to burn (overheat) the edge. Keep a bucket of water handy to douse the head after each pass. If the blade has only small nicks or irregularities, a 10 inch mill file could be used instead of the grinder. Finish by using a sharpening stone. Slide the stone back and forth in a circular motion multiple times along the edge on one side, then repeat on the other side.

Grass-cutting tools: When possible, sharpen grass cutting tools into the cutting edge, otherwise, be prepared to remove the metal burr as previously described. Long-handled swinging knives and curved scythes have thinner edges for easy cutting. The blades on these tools should be sharpened to a 20° to 22° angle. Normally, these tools can be sharpened several times with a sharpening stone before eventually needing to be sharpened using a grinder or file. Grass shears are made of a very hard metal that requires sharpening with a sharpening stone, grinding wheel or diamond/tungsten carbide file.