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Do you sharpen your tools?

Posted by aachenelf z5 Mpls, MN (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 11:04

I must admit, I've been very bad at this. In fact, I've probably only used a whetstone a few times on a few tools in the years I've been gardening. It's one of those things I really mean to do and tell myself each year: "This is the year I do it!", but I never do. (That other thread about the hoop hoe got me thinking about this)

Plus, the other day I was trying to chop a massive climbing rose out of the ground with a clearly, dull axe and thought: "I bet this would work better with a sharp axe."

So - shame me, inspire me, tell me what you use. I want to get into a new habit.

Kevin


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Kevin,

Once you sharpen your tools you will be amazed at the difference in how well they work, the effort you save and even how much safer it is. Some tools will only work best when sharpened. Even a simple hoe does the job better with a sharp edge.

That being said, if your tools are looking ratty, I would spend the money for high quality tools. These will require sharpening less often than the "garden variety" (excuse the pun) tools you'll find at the big box and discount stores. They are manufactured of higher quality metal and will hold an edge much better. For hoes I like Bully Tools. They are made from recycled ag discs, which are about the hardest material you can buy. For shears and loppers, I prefer WOLF-Garten or Fiskars. Fiskars makes axes too. :)

Just sharpening those tools or using a truly sharp tool should inspire you to keep them sharp! It really IS amazing what a difference it makes! Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Good quality garden tools


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

shovels.. ax .. lawn mower blades ...... grinding wheel ...

hand shears.. felcos come apart.. and i use a whetstone ... and a sharpie ... to maintain the angle of the edge ...

file on some other things ...

really kevin.. an ax on a rose.. dont you think that was a bit of overkill??? ... lol ...

ken


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Sorry, Kevin, I can't shame you. I can only commiserate. I do exactly the same thing you do. I think about it, I ponder how it would be so much easier if my tools were sharp, I vow that this will be the year.... and then I don't do anything! Maybe I can be shamed and inspired by this thread as well.

This brings to mind a funny story. Years ago I met a wonderful woman who asked me to help her in her yard, as she had bad knees and beautiful gardens. One day after gardening, we were having a cup of tea, and the topic of tools - and sharpening them - came up, and, thinking she brought them to a lawn repair shop, etc., for sharpening, I asked her, "where do you take your tools to be sharpened?". She looked slightly confused for a second, and then answered, "why dear, I take them to the basement." I almost snorted my tea through my nose.

:)
Dee


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Yep, I use a grinding wheel on hoes, shears, axes, mower blades but I particularly enjoy using carborundum stones and a leather strop on my knives and secateurs. I have a nifty little Bahco sharpener for the secateurs,,,,which has a little flange so the sharpening angle is a perfect 20degrees. I confess to being a tiny bit anal about sharpening - I have a lethal onion hoe which has a blade sharp enough to slice through plants without moving so much as a particle of soil. and the half-mooner is deadly. I oil and clean them after every outing too, keeping a bucket of sharp sand in the shed to clean the soil off before using a soft rag and linseed oil. Although the stainless steel keeps an edge, I much prefer carbon steel or Japanese blue steel which does benefit from regular oiling.

I know, I should get a life - I never, ever loan my tools out to anyone else.


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

OK, I have been shamed. Thanks.

Ken

An axe on a rose you ask? Have you ever grown a William Baffin climber (but really more like a huge shrub)? These things are monsters with canes easily an inch in diameter and roots like you wouldn't believe. I found this comment online:

"The plant can be hard to get rid of if you ever want to replace it: a gardener I know dug a wide pit and removed the root ball, filled the hole with cement, and still got shoots the next year!"

Kevin


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

I always keep my Felcos sharpend and more or less oiled, my knives as well, as the saw ( well, I have some new blades for them in store).

And I really do hate working with blunt/ bad tools and cant understand why lots of folks are too cheap to buy proper tools.

I often hear things like: well, I just do a little gardening, I get buy with this simple ( meaning: crappy) tool, secateur, you name it.

Actually I am traveling to some kind of Easter family thing and have as a gift a Felco basic and a Felco saw with me...

Only recently discovered my hoe as I started with veggies quite recently, which is new and sharp,
Didn't figure out yet how to sharpen a spade

And I confess to collecting all sorts of secateurs, hand hoes and other nifty tool stuff.

So, I'm completely with you Campanula. :-)


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Ummm......my felcos get sharpened once a year in April. I bring them down to NC with us and my dad sharpens them for me and oils them up. I at least stand there and watch while he does all the work! I just got some Jakoti hand shears and they are CRAZY sharp and cut through everything like butter, so that might prompt me to "want" to sharpen other tools, but I'm afraid it probably still won't happen.

I always read that tools should be sharp for the sake of the plants and shrubs, but I think I rest on my laurels because even with godawful dull tools at times making terrible cuts as I whack the heck out of spiraeas or the like, the shrubs never seem worse for wear and the job is done. I suppose if I had really nice roses as opposed to the tough shrub roses I'd be a bit more concerned.

Oh, and while we're in confession, I never clean or bleach my tools either....no matter what I cut.
And I usually leave them out in the rain (well, only shovels and rakes fall into that category....hand tools always get put away...or at least somewhere out of the elements where I can hopefully remember to find them when I need them again.)

Cute story, Dee!


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

LOL, thyme, I don't clean my tools either. I think about it sometimes when I cut something diseased, but like thinking about sharpening, thinking is as far as it gets!

Dee


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Dee, it's the thought that counts........LOL!


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Using really great tools can make turn tedious tasks into a pleasure.......and bad tools are a nightmare.

My youngest has worked in a toolstore for the last couple of years.....and gets a 45% discount - we have rinsed the order dept. on a two year binge.....and easily 1/4 of Tas's wages go straight back to the company..

My secateurs - Okatsune from Silky Fox, are truly joyful to use although the tool most often in my hand is a 3dollar daisy grubber - basically a sharp stick - which is the only remedy for dandelions, dock, mallow and creeping buttercup - a few of the wide array of weeds infesting our public allotments.

Yep, I have ground the spade to a killing edge, using an electric grinding wheel (one of last years discounted buys - before that, a metal file!)


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Kevin, heres how my husband took out a Zepherine Drouin rose for me.( the darn thing grew 15' in a year) He wrapped a log chain around it and pulled it out with his pickup. Don't sharpen your ax to well, its easier to cut your leg off.


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

To me honest, I just can't see myself investing in something like a grinding wheel. Is it possible to do the majority of this work with a file and whetstone? I watched a pretty nifty Youtube video the other day where a guy was doing the sharpening on his hatchet with nothing more than a whetstone. He seemed to know what he was talking about, but who knows.

Now that I started this topic, you guys are really making me feel guilty - which isn't a bad thing - I think it's going to be the motivation I needed to put together a plan.

flowergirl - Not a bad idea, but the rose is almost half out. I find this massive axe kind of therapeutic, although a bit tiring after a while. I'm still really curious as to how much easier it might be after sharpening, so I need to give that a try.

Kevin


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Kevin if there's a harbor freight nearby you can find a hand held angle grinder for around $20 or a mini bench grinder around $30. I take horrible care of my tools, but always sharpen the shovels hoes and mixer blades. About 45 seconds with the grinder and using a sharpened shovel to dig is amazing!

Using a stone is the artful way to go, and surely rewarding, but I often don't want to spend the time.


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

I mostly use a bench grinder I got from my father in laws shop. I also have a electric plate sharpening system from Veritas that is good for more fine stuff, but it is a $400 tool. I have it because I build furniture for a living and it has saved years of time not to mention my wrists and patience. I also use metal files to sharpen loppers in the field. I am sloppy with my tools. Personality defect. Too much going on . TOO MANY TOOLS. Tools for chopping trees, tools for chopping boards in all different manners, tools for finishing, tools for photography, tools for sewing tools for gardening, tools for laying tile, doing plaster, running plumbing, wiring houses, painting. The garden tools are out in the field most of the time. Story of my life.


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

I admire people who take great care of their tools. Mine are also left around.... Not so much cutting tools, mostly the shovels, fork, and hoes. I don't even have an official space for them in the garage - it's been that long!


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

I am fortunate to have a small hardware store nearby where I take my tools once or twice a year to be sharpened. In between times I use a file on the hoes and shovels. The Felco hand clipper is easily kept sharp with a small sharpener that big box stores sell. It is a tiny thing and fits into my pocket so I whip it out and put a sharp edge on the clipper as needed. One caution, it is easy to cut ones' finger when it is so sharp. Years ago I bought an electric knife sharpener which I must admit doesn't get used as often as it should.

My tools get cleaned and put in the garage after every use. If one gets misplaced I search for it. One hand hoe disappeared and I was saddened not to be able to replace it. The next spring it was found when I turned the compost pile. Cleaned it up well and sharpened it and it was good to go.


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Kevin,

So funny about William Baffin! I put one in 8 - 10 years ago. Hacked it down to about 12" one fall in a fit of over-zealous and poorly-timed pruning (but you attack a thorny Goliath only when the mood strikes!).

I was afraid I'd "killed Bill," but of course it wasn't phased. I finally cut it down then dug it up last fall. I split it into two pieces, and both seemed to have survived in their new homes. Now that spring is here, I've been glancing sideways whenever I walk by its former spot...just waiting for the first cane to pop up!

Back to the topic at hand, this post has inspired me to sharpen a few things. I'm fortunate to have a bench grinder, so always use that for my axe and shovel.


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Look what I got for free:

I came across this grinder while cleaning out my Fathers woodworking shop. I know he's had it for at least 20 years, but it certainly still works. Now it's mine! I have no more excuses.

Kevin


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

I just can't see myself investing in something like a grinding wheel. Is it possible to do the majority of this work with a file and whetstone? I

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crikey man ... you can do it with a rock .. anything harden than the metal ... the barbarians hordes never had a power grinder.. lol ...

practice on an old shovel ... the hardest thing with the bench grinder.. is figuring out how to set the edge.. when the darn spade head is attached to a 5 foot stick ... if you dont club yourself in the head.. you might castrate yourself.. lol ... but do keep in mind.. the smaller the tool.. the less need of a 1600 RPM grinder .. find a rock ... or buy a 2 dollar whet stone ...

definitely though.. .the price was right .. but be safe ...

ken


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Ken

I guess I probably wouldn't have purchased this, but now that it's more or less fallen into my lap, I'm kind of excited as to the possibilities.

And yes, I will be careful. I generally have a slight fear of just about any kind of power tool or piece of motorized equipment. That probably goes back to the time I was mowing my parents lawn, the mower got clogged with grass and I stuck my hand in the chute without turning the mower off. I still have my fingers, but it did require an emergency room visit.

I won't even turn it on until I get a pair of safety goggles.

Kevin


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Kevin, There is a lot of knowledge in incremental damage. Nice Grinder. Orange is a great color. I got two grinders from my father inlay, but they were fairly junky in comparison. But I got GREAT long hemostats for weeding cactus.
Ken I like the flat file because I am often working IN THE FIELD far from a shop and electric grinder.But D@mn it is nice to do things so quickly and precisely, and not flare up my tendentious. The guy with a rock had a lot of time on his hands. Besides, the rock around here is really soft. I think metal wins over limestone in a heartbeat.


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

my youngest spent 2 years working in a rathergood tool shop......with a 45% discount, we absolutely rinsed the store.....and could order from pretty much anywhere. We went a little insane (generators, welders, mowers, chippers.....even gardening gloves and string). Thankfully, he has moved into the welding shop..as my son was also spending around a quarter of his wages on tools......but there is no doubt we are fully equipped.. Our families have always been skilled craftspeople - we are landscapers - so we have a bit of a fetishistic view of tools anyway.....they are our major investment - whether petrol, battery and hand tools (my favourites).........collecting our own, plus what we inherited from our parents and grandparents..........requires several sheds, spare rooms, greenhouse, garage and every stairwell in our very small Engish house. I fear it is all getting out of hand.

Grats on the grinder, Kevin - sharp tool addiction coming your way............Certainly, the pleasure of using sharp clean tools more than makes up for the effort of looking after them.....although, I admit to leaving mine out all night, losing small tools for the entire season, throwing them in the incinerator, general abuse/misuse.....and behaving in a careless fashion completely at odds with my professed love of such items. Must be that familiarity and contempt thing?


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

Having just removed a rampant climbing rose(is there any other kind?)the second from this particular garden, my favorite removal tool is the Sawsall. With a twelve inch rough wood cutting blade, I can plunge it deep in the soil. The blades are cheap and I don't worry about hitting rocks. My friend a local Rotarian who frequently takes on rose pruning for a fee, when asked how much to prune a climber has a stock answer of $500. When asked if many are willing to pay that much, he says "no none has yet". By the time the owner asks someone to prune a climber it has been let go for years, and is a monster. Al


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

TELL ME ABOUT IT , Capanula! I am just now buying a $600 shaper bit for a restoration job, and researching a custom bearing for a rub collar. Don't talk to me about hemorrhaging money on tools.

I am extremely rough on tools and I drive my more anally tool retentive husband NUTS. I think it is because I always have them in my hands and in the process of putting down one for another mishaps happen. I just found my grandfathers buck chisel out in the dirt of the "work patio outside my shop yesterday. It is pitted and probably ruined due to the depth of the pitting. Shame on me. I did fined my grandmothers pruners that I have had since '67. They spend more time out in the garden than in the shed.

I live in a bedroom off of a shop. The shop swallowed the old house so we moved and built a large shop and live inside it. It is getting old. I want to be a little more conventional with a real bedroom, living room, kitchen and only normal things in it. I doubt it will ever happen. I call it the Pseudo House. As it is we have a Moma bear shop and a papa bear shop. His is bigger than mine.


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

AHH, the good ol saws-all. One does not have to live in fear on a ladder with it like one does with a chainsaw on a ladder. BUT Good only for as far as the cord can reach.


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

MMMM, recall feeling sick with envy, reading about sawzall/hacksall etc (although we have reciprocating saws here). Had to send off to the US for a special Milwaukee drill with a huge chuck (and no discount) but yep, tools are an expensive addiction, I fear.

Ho yes, chainsaws. Since getting a small bit of woodland, our chainsaw sickness (Huskies, obvs.) has gone off the scale.....and we are salivating over Aklaskan mills now.


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

I used to call my self Madame Poulane But that little tree shark about shook my wrists into carpal tunnel hell for 6 months, so I am now a Styhl Easy Start girl myself. I clear up under brush and small trees on 1.7 acres every winter. A good tool will save on doctor bills.I can say that having two chainsaws really put a new edge on my marriage.

I love "reductive gardening".


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RE: Do you sharpen your tools?

I solved that 'no electricity' problem by buying a 2000 watt inverter. On both my tractor and my pickup I installed plugins and a mount for the inverter. On my six acres of hill and woods there is no place I do not have electricity. Al


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