Giving timber-handled tools a bit of TLC to helps them last longer.
Check the tools over and replace any with handles that are suffering from rot or severe cracks, especially tools that are used under pressure such as spades and mattocks.
For those that pass the test, sand the handles to remove any rough spots and flaking finish, then coat them in boiled linseed oil to inject some moisture and prevent cracking.
When you have oiled the handles, clean and sharpen the blades. Use a whetstone for secateurs and clippers, and a file or grinding wheel for spades, mattocks and hoes.
Store your tools and wheelbarrow under cover over winter and they’ll be ready to go when the garden bursts into action in spring.
Using linseed oil
Linseed oil is a natural product that is extracted from flaxseed.
It has a wide variety of uses, including as a preservative for wood and an ingredient in paints, varnishes, stains, soaps and inks.
Despite the name, most linseed oil isn’t actually boiled.
Instead solvents such as turps are added to speed up the drying process, just as boiling does.
Without this addition linseed oil would take a long time to dry.
TIP The oil is very combustible, so dry used cloths outside in a single layer, as a pile can catch fire.
Step 1. Sand the timber
Sand the timber handles with a random orbital sander and 120 grit sanding pads, then sand lightly by hand using abrasive paper to get into the areas the sander didn’t reach.
Sand the timber handles with a random orbital sander and 120 grit sanding pads
Step 2. Oil the handles
Oil the handles by dipping a cloth into a container of boiled linseed oil and wiping it onto the timber. Let the oil penetrate for a few minutes then wipe off any excess.
Oil the handles by dipping a cloth into a container of boiled linseed oil and wiping it onto the timber