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Maintaining garden tools

By Wolfgang Huber, Repair Café Albury-Wodonga member

How are your small garden tools looking? A bit blunt or rusty and in need of some TLC? The Repair Café, run by a dedicated group of volunteers with a focus on fixing things, has seen increasing interest in servicing of garden tools. It is great to see people bringing their secateurs, shears and loppers to be sharpened. Doing maintenance on all garden tools will prolong their life, make them easier to use, reduce the spread of disease and make them safer to work with.

For spades and shovels you should remove the dirt at the completion of each working day. This can be done with a wire brush, wearing safety glasses and gloves. Wooden handles need to be oiled regularly. Start by giving them a light sand to remove any splinters. An easy way to oil is to keep a soft rag in a sealable container with oil in it. Linseed oil works well with a little added turpentine. Then simply wipe the rag over the handle.

Secateurs need special care. Wipe the secateurs down with warm, soapy water after each pruning session. Then rub the blades with vegetable oil to prevent them rusting, as some sap can be quite corrosive.  If the blade seems blunt, run a sharpening stone over it.  If the blade is too badly damaged you can replace it. The Youtube clip ‘Pruner / Secateur care & repair – how to make your tools last forevershows how this is done: youtube.com/watch?v=tngNz35uqyI.

Keep your pruning saw clean with a nailbrush. Dip it into bleach or tea tree oil to sterilise it before pruning prize plants or if you suspect a plant is diseased. You also can use WD40 or kerosene in a spray bottle mixed with motor oil to lubricate the tool.

The Repair Café volunteers are more than happy to help you achieve a great result. We are able to do some sharping and willing to teach you. Bring along your favourite tool (maximum of 3 items per person).  The Repair Café is free and open the first Saturday of the month, from 10am-1pm at the Sustainability Activity Centre on Gateway Island next to La Maison Café. Our next session is Saturday 2 July. For further information visit eco.redsally.com. We look forward to seeing you.