evtubbergh
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Location: South Africa

Rust on garden tools & sharpening

Hi all

What do you do with rust on your garden tools? My spades and forks etc are either stainless steel or it rubs off and isn't a problem. My cutting tools are another story though; they got wet in my cupboard and all rusted except one stainless steel one. The loppers were the worst!

Then I found a brand new bottle of deoxidene in my cupboard, which I don't remember buying but I probably bought for this! lol

Anyway, the label, having gotten wet was not entirely clear so I just soaked it in pure deoxidene then scrubbed and they all came clean with the exception of my panga. Was that right? I do have a residue on my tools - yellowish powder.

I wonder if there is anything more environmentally friendly and less toxic to me? Also I hope in the future I won't have quite such bad problems if I care for my tools better.

Now I need to sharpen everything and and I am going to start learning on my panga when I get a whetstone. Any suggestions as to brand/grit for garden tools?

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Rust on garden tools & sharpening

You should clean the tools off every time you use them especially of sap.

If you have plants like orchids or anthuriums, collections can get large and pruners and tools should be heated with a torch to sterilize them before working on each plant. Actually some people who have lost collections to viruses will torch the pruners after every cut and will put down newspaper and wear gloves and work on one plant at a time. Sterilization is important because viruses can be spread by cutting flowers off or dividing plants and whole collections can be lost that way. Burning pruners does dull them so either burn cheap ones and replace them or get good ones that can handle the heat, but you will need to sharpen them once in a while.

After tools are cleaned they should be oiled. I wash the pruners and hedge cutters of sap. Plumeria sap does not come off easily so I some times have to use a wire brush and scrubber with a degreaser or goof off to get it off. After the tools are dried. I spray them with WD-40 and store them on the shelf in a container with the points facing up. Points down has caused them to rust even stored in buckets. Every once in a while you will need to take the pruners apart. Make sure you put the screws and washers in order so you can put it back together again. Sharpen the tools with a sharpening stone, grinder, or file.

For long handled tools like hoes, bow rakes, shovels, garden forks. Set up a half barrel or small garbage can with sand. Pour a couple of containers of motor oil in the sand. Clean the tools with water and scrub all of the dirt off with a wire brush. Plunge the tool several times into the oiled sand and tool will be scoured by the sand and oiled at the same time. I keep a lid on the sand when it is not in use. If you have wood handled tools, either paint them, (It helps to id them as yours that way) or use a cloth with something like Murphy's oil soap and wipe down the handles. Tools are best stored hung up on a rack.

Once or twice a year, or whenever you need it sharpen the shovels, hoes, saws with a file.

If you buy quality tools and take good care of them, they will last a long time.

P.S. It helps to paint them or tie a bright colored tape on them to make it easier to find in the garden. Tools should not be left out in the weather.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

evtubbergh
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Re: Rust on garden tools & sharpening

Thanks, there is some good information there. When you say 'file' do you mean the basic kind for rasping burrs off things? That's a good idea for the blade of my panga which is very dented.

I may try the oil in sand thing if I can find space to store it! And I will treat the wooden handles of my hand tools. I have noticed they no longer sell those and all the new ones I bought in the same range actually have plastic handles. Now is probably not the time to tell you about the time I left my hand spade in the garden while we traveled for several months to the US. When we got home there it was, in the dirt, only slightly worn about the handle. Poor trusty old spade.

I do realise I need to clean my tools every time I use them but while I used to clean them I didn't do it all that well. Luckily I don't have orchids or anthiriums as the climate here does not allow it so I don't have to stress about such sensitivities. I do wipe down any blade I use for taking cuttings with alcohol to prevent fungal infection.

Anyway, I have taken apart all my cutting tools, only to find that our whetstone is missing so I hope when I finally get one that I can still put them together.

What I really need to know is what coarseness to buy. And it would be good to know the deoxidene has not damaged my tools.

I found these articles, which are very good. Only the rust-removal products are not anything I can find here.
https://www.theruststore.com/Garden-Tool ... W37C2.aspx
https://www.familyhandyman.com/tools/how ... s/view-all
https://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/tool ... z2Zs2ZxedH

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applestar
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Re: Rust on garden tools & sharpening

I'm REALLY bad about taking care of my tools. :oops:

...my excuse is that by the time I'm finished using them, I'm wiped out and can barely trudge to the shed to put them away...

I've read about the motor oil in sand trick, but I'm not sanguine about using the motor oil.

I DO have a thing about sharp tools. So I have a two sided rasp with parallel and cros-hatched files. Cross hatched side is finer for finishing. I don't know if there were "grit" numbers for them, but it's an Ace Hardware brand... Maybe their website lists that in their description. Also have a similarly shaped sharpening stone with a plastic belt holster which can be filled with water to use as whetstone. And I keep a pocket sharpener with ceramic and carbide V-sharpeners and a 2" tapered folding sharpening rod.

If none of these are handy and I'm exasperated by lack of proper edge on my tools, I sometimes just pick up any old rock, wet it with water and run it over the blade. I always feel a bit primitive doing this, but it works.

I have a long-bladed scythe. It needs to be sharpened often. Picture little ol' me running a fist sized rock slowly over the blade, making the raspy metal sounds in the early dawn light.... :twisted:

Since I read that canola oil had been originally developed to replace whale oil for machines, I use canola oil to oil all my tools. I even use an old air-pump oil mister from the kitchen that has been relegated to garden use. :wink:

...oh yeah and that was a good point about sterilizing cutting tools between plants. I keep rubbing alcohol (90% I think?) in drug store travel mister in my pocket and thoroughly mist the blades between plants, especially when dealing with possibly diseased ones. I also spray the cut while I'm at it.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

evtubbergh
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Location: South Africa

Re: Rust on garden tools & sharpening

My husband gave me a rasp for my gardening tools. And I bought a stone at the butchers today (of all places, because they are not available in hardware stores) and they told me to use cooking oil. Hmm, I have a whole bottle of canola oil and we don't really cook with it. Its kind of funny; we don't cook with white vinegar either but we keep it in the garden shed.

I have rubbing alcohol just for mealy bugs but a spray bottle sounds like a great idea. I have probably been spreading disease from plant to plant because I have never cleaned the blade when cutting normal plants; only for propagating. Oops. I will really change my habits now.

Oh and I don't know that I would use motor oil in sand as it's not eco-friendly. We give all used motor oil to a recycling facility but I am not sure they will take sand like that. I was thinking something else like vegetable oil or something similar. I could also clean the things in sand and rub oil on after.

My tools are going to shiny clean and oh-so sharp :)

evtubbergh
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Posts: 532
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:52 am
Location: South Africa

Re: Rust on garden tools & sharpening

I had lots of fun putting them all back together and I am still actually missing 1 screw, oops. I used an abrasive pad to remove the residue on some of the metal. My tools are now all shiny and sharp, with the exception of my panga which has seen better days and will never be the same again. Tomorrow I may try it on a brick to see if I can even out the edge.

Thanks for the tip about the rasp. :)

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