Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tool Cleaning and Sharpening Time

Yesterday was the first day of spring and it snowed about 5 inches. What a cruel joke. Today it is warming up fast, going up into the 50s, and you can actually see and hear the snow melting outside. There is this constant sound of snow dripping and falling out of the trees and off the roof. It’s as if Mother Nature is saying, “Oh no you don’t, Old Man Winter, it’s MY time now.” The birds are singing a happy song in spite of the snow on the ground because they know spring is on its way. Time to get ready. That means tool cleaning and sharpening time.

I always intend to clean and sharpen my gardening tools more often, yet somehow never manage to do it more than once a year. I need tools that thrive on neglect. As mentioned in my previous post, my Oxo Good Grips Gardening Trowel is one of them. My Fiskars forged pruners are another, so far. I think I bought them in 2012 or 2013 and they have been holding up well despite my neglect. They sure as heck ain’t pretty right now, though.

In April of 2013 I wrote a blog post about how to mistreat your pruners. That gives you an idea of what pruners that belong to me have to go through. You would think I would take better care of my gardening tools because they are so important to me. But by the time I’m done my garden work for the day, I’m tired and dirty and just want a cool shower and a clean pair of clothes. Cleaning and sharpening my garden tools are the last thing on my mind.

I will digress here a bit and mention that I have yet to declare my Fiskars Forged Bypass Pruners as a “Favorite Tool” yet for one, and only one, reason. That is because the handles really could use more padding. I would love it if the handles were the same kind of material as the handle on my Oxo Good Grips Gardening Trowel. Then they would be absolutely perfect. I should probably mention that, according to Amazon, these pruners are discontinued by the manufacturer. How depressing. They do still have some in stock, though.

So how do you clean a pair of pruners that have suffered as much as mine and are covered in rust, dirt, and sap? Bar Keepers Friend, my friend, and some steel wool. (I have Brian to thank for the Bar Keepers Friend. He uses it with his homebrewing equipment.)

It took a lot of scrubbing and elbow grease, as well as some Brillo Pad action, but they did get better. Not perfect, but still plenty usable, even though not fabulously gorgeous. One can’t expect perfection, though, when one has been through so much use and abuse. Besides my bare hands for weeding, my pruners are the most used tool I have.

While I was at it, I cleaned up some of my other gardening tools. The snippers I use for trimming herbs and boxwood, as well as roses from time to time, and for cutting cucumbers, tomatoes or squash from the vine. The scissors are used when cutting twine to tie up floppy plants.

Next comes sharpening and oiling. I use Felco oil spray and a Felco sharpening tool, even though I no longer really use my Felco pruners. The spray helps keep the moving parts working smoothly and easily.

I do still have my No. 7 Felco pruners and use them on occasion, however, I find them very frustrating. For what is supposed to be the top-of-the-line product, I find them to be uncomfortable and unreliable. After a few times using them, they start to fall apart and need constant tightening. Also, the rotating handle, which is supposed to be more ergonomic and help prevent strain, is really just plain old annoying. It seems to always be turned or stuck in the wrong direction. So I give them a thumbs-down, I hate to say. My forged Fiskars are tons better. Just could stand to be a bit more comfortable.

So now my tools are ready for spring!

Footnote: I did notice that Oxo makes a pair of bypass pruners. They might be worth trying. I am so happy with the durability of my Fiskars forged ones, though, that they would probably have to break in order for me to want to try another pair of pruners. 

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