Sharp, non-rusty tools are important for the ease and safety of performing gardening tasks. A flat file can be used to sharpen the blades on a set of pruning shears or lawn mower. Sharp blades cut rather than tear or bruise tissue. Many diseases enter turfgrass plants through damaged tissue, so a clean cut will help reduce disease problems.
Shovels and hoes also need to have sharp edges to give a good cut. Use a flat file to sharpen the cutting edge of a shovel. This reduces the amount of force you have to use when digging. When you encounter a root, a sharp-edged shovel will allow a nice clean cut to occur, and the root will recover faster. And cutting weeds with a sharp hoe requires less work, and it's easier on the hands and back.
When sharpening with a flat file, wear a pair of gloves to reduce the risk of cutting yourself on the sharpened edge. Long, diagonal strokes of the file give a more uniform cutting edge to the tool than short strokes in one spot on a blade. If a bench grinder is available, the sharpening goes much more quickly.
After use, push shovel blades into a five-gallon bucket of oily sand so rust won't form on the blades. Wipe pruners and other cutting equipment with an oily rag to prevent rust formation. Be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp edges.
When sharpening gasoline or electric-powered tools, be sure to disconnect the spark plug and unplug electric tools from the power source.
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Updated Friday, April 19, 2013