Sharpening garden tools

Alan Titchmarsh shows you how to sharpen garden tools like spades and hoes.

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In this No Fuss video guide, Alan Titchmarsh looks at the importance of not only sharpening your garden tools, including secateurs, hoes, spades and half-moon irons, to make using them much easier.

Alan demonstrates how to clean tools first, then sharpen them on both sides using a sharpening file, and gives advice on when and how often to do it. Watch the video now.

Sharpening garden tools: transcript

When it comes to sharpening tools, we’re quite good at remembering to do our knives and our secateurs, because they’re the ones with the sharpest blades. But it’s very easy to forget that other implements that we use in the garden quite a lot also need a fairly keen edge, things like draw hoes, spades and above
anything, the half moon iron to do the edges of your lawn.

First thing to do, obviously, clean off any muck. Use a stiff brush to really work into any crevices in that blade, front and back. Once it’s clean, get a bit of sandpaper on it and then, work on it with an oily rag. And this is something you can do if you’re really assiduous at the end of every week’s work and certainly in winter when
you use them less. At the beginning of the winter break, give them a good oiling like that. But as well as wanting a bit of oil on that blade, front and back, to stop rust forming all the way through the winter, it’s the edge, the cutting edge, which is key. Now, look at that – it would hardly cut butter that.

So, take a file and work your way along the cutting edge of spade, hoe and half moon iron; and you can hear that rasp, beginning to take off the blunt edge and replace it with a sharper one. You need to work all the way around it. You’ll feel the difference you’re making when you’ve worked your way right the way round that blade.
Then flip the thing over and then the other side is much flatter. So, your blade here can be held against the tool, just to get rid of any burrs; this is a much lighter operation.

I am now not going to run my finger along that because it’s wonderfully sharp. The great thing about it, is that it makes using the implement that much easier. When you’re running round the edge of your lawn, this will cut cleanly against the turf, giving you a much finer edge, rather than just squashing it as it would when it was
blunt. One file, one implement, a little bit of elbow grease and your gardening has made it so much easier.