Spades are indispensable tools for every gardener’s toolbox. With their sharp blades, you would complete a variety of tasks in the backyard, such as digging, slicing, cutting, or breaking down soils. But after a few years of service, it is quite common for your favourite gadgets to lose their edge like garden cutters start losing their edge – literally – and become dull due to exposure to elements or wear and tear. In this guide, I will show you how to sharpen a garden spade to maximize its effectiveness and functionality.
How to sharpen a garden spade
Step 1: Prepare the tools
Before getting started, make sure to gather all of the necessary tools and materials to save your time. Basically, you might need steel wool, a rust remover or emery cloth to prepare the spade for sharpening. Also, you will need a 10-inch mill bastard file. These tools could be easily purchased at the local hardware store.
Step 2: Wear protective gear
It is essential to protect your body and hands against the sharp blade of the spade when sharpening and cleaning it. The best way to achieve this is to put on a pair of heavy-duty gardening gloves. Make sure to choose thick materials if possible.
Do not forget your eyes because shards of rust or metal could injure your eyes while sharpening and cleaning the spade. Ideally, you should wear a pair of safety goggles or glasses. And, it is better to gear full-body clothes to prevent dangerous pieces from causing bleeding on the skin.
Step 3: Clean the spade
Sap and dirt accumulated on your garden spade would result in the spread of weeds and some soil-borne diseases. Also, they can gather and hold moisture, causing rusts to spread. If your spade has moving components, make sure to disassemble first.
After that, use the steel wool or emery cloth to get rid of the debris. Scrub the spade’s surface gently until all of the rusts has been completely removed.
This is an essential step because filing a rusty surface would dull your file and reduce the effectiveness of your sharpening process.
Step 4: Sharpen the spade
Clamp the spade to the top of the workbench or secure it tightly in a vice. Make sure the concave side, or the upper surface of the tool the blade, is accessible. In case you don’t have clamps or a vice, just grip the spade between the knees and try to keep it as secure as possible.
Next, place the sharp side of the spade by running the finger slightly along its top. You will need to sharpen its leading edge, which can feel considerably sharper to touch.
Apply moderate pressure to file its leading edge. Plush the file sideways and forwards, at a uniform angle. Ideally, you should ensure the bevel of around 70 degrees to the spade’s upper surface. Do not draw the file backwards.
Step 5: Add the final touch
Once you have completed sharpening your garden spade, it’s time to lubricate its blade with linseed oil, synthetic oil, or light machine oil. This will help prevent rust and splintering over time. All that you need to do is to dip a cloth in the oil and wipe it gently over the blade.
Lastly, just resemble all components and store it for the next use.
Benefits of sharpening a garden spade
Just like other gardening tools like grass clippers, shovels, or pruning hand shears, spades can benefit a lot from sharpening. With a few simple steps, you can make a dull and rusted blade becomes sharper and newer.
A sharpened tool can ensure better performance in digging, cutting, or breaking down soils in your daily tasks. This eventually makes everything a lot simpler and speeds up the whole process, thus saving your time or efforts.
More importantly, sharpening a garden spade on a regular basis can save you a lot of money on purchasing the new one. After a few months or years of using, this tool would become rusted due to direct exposures to many chemicals and components in the soil.
Fortunately, you don’t have to replace the whole blade to restore its usefulness. Instead, just sharpen this part and bring back its brand-new look.
How often should you sharpen a garden spade?
The frequency of sharpening a garden spade typically depends on its usage. Many professional or avid gardeners often have their tool sharpened one time per year, while other people might wait longer.
Ideally, the best time of the year to sharpen a garden spade and other tools is the end of the summer or fall. This will help you prepare well for the next season. However, if you use the spade more often for heavy-duty tasks. Then it is better to perform this task twice per year to maximise its performance.
Useful tips to maintain your garden spade
To keep your garden spade in the best condition and minimise your sharpening efforts, it is necessary to keep it out of the weather and other elements when not in use. Otherwise, steel blades, for instance, would begin to rust when left in the rain in an extended period. In these cases, you might begin to notice any damage or paint chipping off along the shaft or head.
To extend the lifespan of your garden spade, it is better to clean it thoroughly after each use. This will help prevent water and mud from damaging plastic or rusting metal. When purchasing a spade, go for all-metal spades to ensure the ultimate durability.
You would use some simple grill brushes to get mud and dirt off the spade’s head. Some sand would help prevent rusts on steel spades. A protected, dry area such as the garage could also help prevent excess moisture.