Having the right tool for the job is crucial. But just as important is keeping them in good operating condition. One of those requirements is keeping them sharp. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional landscaper, mechanic, or just a hobby gardener, you are bound to see and feel the difference between a sharp and properly maintained tool and something that was left to rot in the back of the garage or shed.
We’ve created this post to help you get a better understanding of why keeping common tools sharp will make your job easier and even help prevent potential injury. We will be going over some of the most common tools such as saw blades, pliers, garden shears, and even shovels to help you understand why this simple step can make your life that much easier.
A small amount of maintenance can go a long way, and keeping everything in tip-top condition is a crucial part of that. Blisters, sore hands, and potential cuts and scrapes can all be prevented by properly functioning, sharp tools. Let’s have a deeper dive into each subject and see why it is so important.
From hand to circular saws, having a sharp saw blade will make any job you are doing that much easier and not to mention, safer. There are several ways to keep saw blades sharp and functioning like new. It all depends on the type of blade you have.
Table or Circular Saw
Sharpening a circular saw blade can be done professionally or by hand. If you have never done it before, we recommend leaving it up to the pros. Some hardware stores even have an exchange program, where you give an old, dull one in exchange for a new, sharp one. However, if you want to learn how to do it, start by using an old blade that is no longer good. After all, practice makes perfect, right?
It is all about having the right angle on when sharpening each tooth. Of course, there are specialized machines for sharpening circular saw blades. But if you are planning on sharpening one blade every few months, the initial cost of it may not be worth it.
A sharpening file and a piece of wood angled at precisely 20-degrees will do the same job at a fraction of the price. Once the file is secure to the wood(can be done by gluing or taping) move it in an even back and forth motion until a new surface is created. Pro tip: use a little lubricating oil to help speed up the process and reduce wear.
A quality hand saw can last a lifetime if properly maintained and serviced. Just like with everything else on this list, the blade should be sharpened regularly. Although it takes longer, it doesn’t need to be done as often.
First off, you need to make sure that every tooth is at the same level. To get to the desired level, you need to take a large, flat file and grind everything down at a falt, 90-degree angle. You may think this is counterintuitive as it dulls the blade, but trust us, it'll make sense later on.
Next, grab a triangular file and sharpen every tooth at a 30-degree angle compared to the direction of the blade, alternating between each one. Once the dullness of each tooth has been brought to a fine point, you can move on to the next. Repeat this step until the end you reach the end of the blade. Here is a video explaining in detail.
Pruning Shears and Sheet Metal Scissors
Having a good set of sheet metal scissors or pruning shears can make your life much easier. We’re sure you have all come across a time where we picked up a dull set of scissors only to find out that they can't even cut a simple piece of paper.
Blades need to be sharpened and oiled regularly if you want to get more use from them. But how do you do it? Let’s get to the bottom of it. Again, if you are not comfortable doing this, leave it to the pros. However, sharpening scissors or pruning shears does take less experience and knowledge than saw blades, so it should not be an issue.
All that is needed to do this is a flat file and some knowledge(which we will share with your today). Depending on the design, your pruning shears or metal scissors may have one or two beveled edges. If it comes with one, sharpen JUST the beveled edge. If you have a bigger set of shears, chances are it will have a bevel on both sides.
Regardless if it has one or two chamfers, the process remains the same. Use your file in a swift up and down motion at the same angle that the bevel is. You can check to see if it is the right angle by feeling the backside for any burs with your finger. If you feel any resistance, the angle you are working at is too steep.
Spades and Shovels
If you have never worked with a sharpened spade or shovel, we recommend trying it out. It'll go through the soil like a hot knife through butter. As a bonus, an extra sharp shovel will slice through most roots with ease.
As far as sharpening goes, there is no right or wrong technique. A large, flat file will easily get the job done. Strap the shovel in place(we like using a vice) and begin with long, smooth strokes starting from one edge and going to the other. It’s just that simple.
It should go without saying, but make sure that the spade or shovel is free of any dirt, mud, or debris after each use. This will help ensure your tools stay in the best shape for years to come. Storing them away for the winter months? No problem. A quick coat of oil will help ensures that moisture and rust won’t affect the metal.
So, next time you are digging a hole or just working in the garden, take a minute and memorize how hard it is to actually try and get through the soil. Now sharpen your spade and try again. Bet it made a huge difference, didn’t it?
Preventative maintenance is the best kind of maintenance. 3 in 1 oil is your best friend if rust or high moisture is present in the area where you live.
As a general rule of thumb, we recommend not using a saw blade or tool that is not in good operating condition. Don’t take the chance and risk injury just because the tools have not been sharpened. Put a little time and effort into sharpening your saw blades, pruning shears, shovels, etc. A few extra minutes now will save you major headaches down the road.
Certain tools require certain cleaning methods. This section is dedicated to showing you how to properly take care of every tool mentioned above.
Something as simple as cloth cleaning may be all that is needed for lightly used pruning shears. But for heavier staining or neglect we recommend using a scouring pad and some good old-fashioned elbow grease. A short time later, you should have something that looks brand new.
As far as shovels, trowels, rakes, spades, and any other large garden tools go, we recommend going out and getting a bucket of sand. Throw in a little-used oil and you have yourself a homemade self-cleaning and lubrication station all in one. Dunk each tool in there a few times and voila. You have clean and pre-oiled shovels.
Having clean, sharp tools to work with is a must. Why? A few of the reasons include safer working conditions, quicker and cleaner cuts, as well as being able to do your work easier. It is a well-known fact that sharp tools just work better.
Our end goal is to educate you on how to keep your tools sharp and functioning like the very first day you bought them. Investing a little time now can help save you money in the future. Not having to shell out cash for new ones every could of months is another great benefit of sharpening your tools at home.
We hope to have answered all of your questions on how to keep everything in perfect working condition. Do you want to know more about automotive and garden tool maintenance? Feel free to reach out and we will do our best to answer your questions as soon as possible!