Clean Sharp Tools Work Better Garden and Lawn Tools It is important for lawn and garden tools to be cleaned after each use. Doing so keeps disease, fungi, insect eggs, and weed seeds from being spread around the lawn and garden. Spades, rakes, hoes, digging trowels and other tools that come in contact with the soil should be hosed off and then wiped down to keep the edge from rusting. Tools that don’t come in contact with the soil like axes, pruning shears, lopping shears, and knives should be wiped with bleach to remove any gums and sap, that might be degassed from trimming that could be spread around. Then wipe everything with motor oil to prevent rusting. If you wish to make a rust proof mixture that you can spray out of a spray bottle mix one non-detergent 30w motor oil with a pint of kerosene or lamp oil. 2 parts oil to 1 part kerosene. If you have a shovel or bought one at a garage sale that is covered with rust, use 80 grit sandpaper first to help remove the rust. If rust is still visible you can use a wire brush in a drill to speed removal of the rust. Sharpening tools is a little more complex than cleaning and removing rust. Some tools like shovels, axes, hoes and digging trowels are best sharpened with a 10-inch mill bastard hand file. For best results hold the tool stride in a clamp, vise, or other holding device. Check which side has the sharp edge and the angle you need to sharpen the tool (most lawn and garden tools are sharpened only on one side). Next hold the file at an angle of the blade you are sharpening. Use a downward stroke moving along the blade from one end to the other at the same time. Use both hands on the file. A file only cuts downward not back and forth. Other tools like prunes and knives call for honing stones. Use the same method of sharpening as you would with a file. Tools like mower-blades and axes need to take a trip to the grinder. Always be careful when sharpening on a grinder not to get the blade too hot or it will take the temper out of it and the blade will not stay sharp very long. The edge of each tool can be different. Always look at the bevel on the tool you are sharpening and sharpen at that same beveled angle. Recommended sharpening angles are from 10 to 45 degrees. Knives and pruning shears, tools that need finer edges for cutting should be sharpened between 10 to 25 degree angles. A tool that is used for heavy duty jobs that will dull the blade very quickly like hoes, shovels and mattocks only need to be sharpened to a 30 to 35 degree angle. Tools such as lopping shears, hedge trimmers, pruners and grass shears will sharpen easier by taking them apart. Always use penetrating oil on the nut you are loosening to help you remove it. You also might check to see if the bolt is loose and needs to be tightened. Just by tightening the bolt it might save you the problem of having to sharpen it. Never stand tools such as shovels on their edge it could cause damage to the sharp edge. Hang tools up by drilling a hole in the handle and hang it on a nail. Tool racks are a very good way to store your lawn and garden tools. You will find them in hardware stores and home improvement centers. There are now many new sharpening devices on the market that will help you to sharpen anything that needs to be sharpened in a safe and easy manner. Check out your home improvement stores.