Why Do your Tools Fail?
You go to the home center or to your local hardware store and carefully choose the tools you need to tend to your flower beds and your vegetable gardens. We all know that the quality of a lot of products is not what it used to be 15 to 20 years ago. You can still find real good quality tools though. You just need to know which tools to look for. I have made my living for over 40 years with tools so they are something I know well. If you want better quality tools, do not settle for the home owner version of any tool. Those are meant to be replaceable tools and tools not used on a steady basis. Go straight to the professional tools section or ask a professional where he buys his tools. Professionals realize that their tools are important and need to be high quality tools because they are necessary to do the work that makes them money.
You will be glad you invested your money in a good, high quality, rugged tool. It will preform better and last far longer than a home owner version and even if it initially costs you more money, in the long run it will turn out to be less expensive because it will outlast the lesser quality tools which means it will not need to be replaced as quickly as the home owner version of the tool. Now you know the difference between the home owner version and the professional version so go out and have some fun shopping for tools that should become a trusted friend and work companion in your yard and garden. Caring for those tools is of vital importance to their longevity and performance. Lets discuss a few tips on caring for your new tools and maybe how you can revitalize some of your older tools that are still in pretty fair condition.
Caring For Your Tools
Tools are one of those things that seem to be "out of sight, out of mind" sorts of things. You use them to do the job and stick them back in the tool shed and forget about them until you need them again. That is one of the major factors in why tools will fail prematurely. Just like anything else, tools need a certain amount of care to keep them in healthy condition. We all know that metal rusts. Do not put your tools away while they are wet. That is just common sense. Take a few seconds to thoroughly dry off any tools before storing them. If it is a tool you rarely use, make sure to go one step further and give that metal surface a light coat of oil to help keep some of the air away from the metal surface. Air actually accelerates the rusting process so you need to keep it to a minimum on tool surfaces that are going to be stored for long periods of time.
How many times have you been right in the middle of digging with your favorite shovel only to have the shovel handle snap right into and leave you with a useless tool and unable to finish your job? Wood naturally dries out over time. While you are at the hardware store make sure to pick up a quart of Linseed oil to rub onto the wooden surfaces of any tools you have to keep them from drying out so quickly. Here is a tip I learned many years ago from an old Polish gentleman.
While you are in the hardware store pick up an 1/4 "drill bit that is about one foot in length. Also pick up some 1/4" furniture plugs. Take the drill bit and center it in the end of your handle and drill straight down the length of the handle as far as you can. Now take a small funnel or a syringe and fill the cavity you just drilled out with some of the Linseed oil you have. Now take one of the 1/4 "furniture plugs and cap off the hole and stand the tool so gravity will do its job and allow the oil to soak down into the handle. This will act as a replacement for the natural moisture that wood had in it and keep the handle in great shape. it also helps keep those pesky wood splinters from the dry wood conditions to a minimum. While you are maintaining your tools do not forget to grease any movable joints. One last tip is to make sure any tools that have a sharp surface are kept sharp. it will not only make your job easier but will mean less stress on the tool when you are using it and that increases the life of your tool too.
Tools are necessary for many jobs and if you take good care of your tools, they will last for many many years and become a trusted friend and companion to you while you are working in your garden or flower beds. You invest money in your tools so why not keep them in good condition so they can pay you back on your investment? It is money you can save and put into your gardens to improve them and make them enjoyable for all to see. Tool maintenance does not take much time. It does take a lot of time to earn the money to keep replacing your tools. Plan to spend 10 minutes or so each time you get out your tools on maintaining them and you will be amazed at just how long your tools will serve you well.