Two cheap products with incredibly stupid names have just made my yard work a lot easier – and I couldn’t be more delighted.

Sharpen the blades, oil the wood, lubricate the moving parts, clean off the mud after using your garden tools, then store away carefully in a dry place to prevent rust… frankly, who has time for all that? Particularly at the end of a hot day’s labour, when all you want is a long refreshing shower and some sort of beverage….

See, my garden tools are good quality — every garden guru will tell you that’s important — but they’re geting old. (Aren’t we all?) And I have to confess that I’ve never cared for my tools the way all the gardening books say you should. As it turns out, however, a bit of time put into proper garden tool care will save time (and effort, and unladylike language) later on.

Okay, really I did know that.

But the whole tool-sharpening business is just too difficult and time-consuming (whetstone? grinder? file? what?) — or too expensive, if you tote the tools to the place you get your lawnmower fixed or a full-service hardware store for sharpening.

Of course we want to go cheap and DIY on garden tool maintenance, but what a hassle!

Until now.

The Easy Way to Make Old Garden Tools Work Better

garden tool maintenance products Let me introduce you to Jig-A-Loo and the Samurai Shark.

I told you, these products have incredibly stupid names. One sounds like something you’d see advertised on a late-night TV shopping channel, or in a third-rate Ninja movie. And the other one sounds, well, just plain rude… But don’t be fooled. These two are my new best friends!

They’re cheap, and they work, and you can grab them both in the Outdoorsy Living section at Amazon if your local hardware store doesn’t have them in stock. (I was given mine by the good folks who sell them, for purposes of testing and review, but will cheerfully purchase their replacements when the time comes – especially the awesome blade sharpener.)

Here’s the scoop:

Clean Rust Off Garden Tools

Jig-a-Loo is a silicone-based lubricant spray that goes on clear and dries fast. It has a sharp unpleasant solvent-type odour when you first spray it, but that goes away almost immediately. Use it to loosen rusted-together nuts and bolts, fix squeaky doors and sticky locks, lubricate the moving parts of things (like the sliding window in my back door, or the handles of my ancient garden shears) so they move more smoothly and easily…

In short, it’s a great substitute for a spray can of WD-40, the home handyman’s traditional all-purpose lube. But Jig-a-Loo doesn’t have any grease or oil, so it’s not going to add to your cleaning problems. And you can use it on leather, wood, metal, and most plastics and fabric. Oh, and it repells water, too — if they could train the little orange can to put itself away in the cupboard when I’m done with it, that would be perfect.

If you’re not wild about silicone lubes for cleaning your garden tools, however, another good alternative is Boeshield T-9 lube, a paraffin-based rust-prevention lube that’s great for bike chains and whatnot, as well.

Sharpen Dull Blades on Garden Tools

Samurai Shark — I almost can’t say that with a straight face! — but trust me, you want this baby. It is not much more than a plastic handle with a couple of blades and a knob or two to adjust them with. Fortunately, it has two things going for it:

  1. it is cheap, and
  2. it works.

Sharpen anything from your dainty embroidery scissors to hefty lawnmower blades with this easy knife sharpener, including those serrated paring knives that the knife-sharpening kiosk guy won’t even look at.

It’s remarkable how much easier those heavy garden chores become when you’re not fighting to chop through sod or to divide perennial plants with a dull spade. Simply astonishing. And believe me, both your arms and your shrubs will appreciate it if you prune with sharp secateurs instead of hacking through the branches with a dull blade.

flower bed perennials The first day with my Samurai Shark, I rounded up all the garden tools and sat on the back verandah in the sunshine. I spread out the instruction leaflet beside me, weighted it down with a coffee cup, and worked my way through the pile of tools.

The instructions are needed (but be warned, the print is really tiny! — thankfully, there are also pictures) because this whole garden-tool-blade-sharpening thing is not intuitive. Each kind of knife or blade will need to be sharpened in a particular way, using one or the other of the Shark’s two built-in blades. It definitely takes a few minutes to get the hang of it, especially if you’re not exactly in the habit of sharpening garden tools…

And then I sprayed all the nuts and bolts that hold together the blades of the shears and pruners and loppers and secateurs and scissors with Jig-a-Loo. Just one complaint there, which also applies to good ol’ WD40 as well as Jig-a-Loo — I can never keep the little straw in the nozzle for more than one spritz.

(What do you think, am I spraying with too much enthusiasm? Anyone know a good trick for this?)

The rest of the afternoon, I dashed about the yard doing all the garden chores I’d been putting off — trimming the long grass around the base of trees with my newly sharp-and-lubricated old garden shears, pruning the hydrangea with secateurs as sharp and smooth-moving as the day I got them, and generally being more productive in far less time than usual.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Jess

    oh yes, wont you please try it on your old pinking shears? Pretty please (I’m figuring that now that you have the ‘hang of it’ you might figure it out better than most lol) & post your opinion/method?

    Btw, having been raised by a true “mountain man”, I am extremely proficiant at sharpening knives & such, razor sharp in 3-4 moves. Can file a new edge by hand.. Even so, I concur with your opinon of the Samurai Shark. Cheap – Easy – Works great. I will now be trying “Jig-a-Loo” (though I shall immidiately mentally re-name it, never to utter jig-a-loo again!) Nice post, thanx Jess

  2. domestika

    Pinking shears? Gee, I bet it would — I’ve sharpened my serrated bread knife with the Shark, but forgot all about my poor old dull pinking sheers (mostly because I haven’t used them for years, what with them being too dull to cut anything!) Must try that!

  3. becca

    Wow. These sound like two products we could really use. Any idea if the samurai shark works on pinking shears?

  4. Dan

    Hi Domestika,

    I like cheap. I like simple.

    I get quickly frustrated when things don’t work as they should, because it’s always the most inconvenient time.

    Thanks for the tips on these two simple and cheap products that will help ease my frustration when tools don’t work when I am renovating or maintaining my how home.


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