Tools perform best in the long run if they are properly maintained and cared for. This is true for any tool including a garden trowel.
Maintaining a garden trowel involves cleaning, sharpening the blade, and proper storage.
To clean the trowel you will need a bucket of water, an old rag, a wire brush, sand and oil.
Start the procedure by dunking the trowel into the bucket of water. This loosens the dirt.
Next, wipe off the trowel with the rag. The rag can also be used to wipe off some light dirt from the handle.
If there is any dirt that does not come off with water and rag, then use the wire brush to scrape it off. The wire brush is also ideal for removing rust spots on the blade.
Once the dirt is cleaned from the blade, you need to oil it to protect it from rust. It is suggested that you use oil that does not have petroleum in it like vegetable or linseed oil. Don’t forget to coat the handle if it is made of wood to preserve and waterproof it.
To apply the oil, first fill the bucket with sand and oil. Move the blade of the trowel up and down in the sand a few times to clean off any small pieces of dirt and to lightly coat the blade in oil. Once that is done, dip the handle into the bucket and move the trowel up and down to clean it off and coat it with oil.
You should sharpen the blade of the trowel every couple of years or so. It is suggested that you use a hand file for this task. The work will assure that the blade will cut through tough soil and roots.
To sharpen the blade:
Hold the trowel tightly onto a level surface with your non-dominant hand.
Use your dominant hand to place the file on the edge of the blade at an angle between five and thirty degrees.
Push the file downwards along the edge of the blade away from your body.
Between each stroke lift the file from the tool and place it back at the starting point.
Repeat the process all around the edge of the blade.
Use a clean rag to rub on some vegetable or linseed oil.
Store the trowel in a dry place like a tool shed to assure that moisture doesn’t get to it. Moisture can lead to rust on the blade or a rotting handle. Using a tool rack will help keep the shed neat and when you notice that the trowel is missing, then you know you must have left it near the garden.