As the air becomes crisp and the spirit of the holidays fills the season, the time for repairs and home-improvement projects will, unfortunately, dwindle. But what should you do with your tools during this time, just carelessly toss them aside?
While it’s definitely true that the winter is a time of fellowship and family, it’s also a time of dry, harsh weather, which can cause irreparable harm to even the most durable tool. Because of this, our tools must be cleaned and properly stored to preserve their integrity and ensure they last through the winter months.
Like with most things, the best practice is to clean after each use. If you’ve been lax (something we’ve all been guilty of), a little more effort may be required. Winterizing your tools has many benefits: saving you money and extending a tool’s life. So, a pre-winter cleaning and sharpening plan should become routine.
Blades and Handles
Cleaning a bladed tool as it is used saves time, which is an obvious observation. However, cleaning dirty tools doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Most tools only require soap and water, a wire brush, and a little elbow grease to clean. After this, once the tools have dried, treat the edged surface with a rust or corrosion inhibitor, working the blade with a towel.
This serves a dual purpose:
- It protects blades from rust and the elements.
- It allows you to check the blades for nicks and dullness.
Chances are, if the tool has been used on any consistent basis, the blade will need to be sharpened. To do this, all you’ll need is a grinding wheel or mill file, C-clamp, and some goggles and gloves for safety.
Next, inspect the handles. If they’re broken or severely splintered, it’s probably best to just replace them. But if salvageable, some sandpaper or an emery cloth should smooth weathered wood. Use a ball-peen hammer and wear goggles when removing a tool blade from its handle; never use a nail hammer for this process, this can cause metal chunks to dangerously fly from the tool.
Coat the metal parts of the tools with WD-40 or a light oil spray, and for wooden handles, use linseed oil. To keep these tools protected from the elements, hang them in a winter shed.
Lawn Mower and the Power Tools
First, it must be said that you should always check a power tool’s owner’s manual for any storage guidelines. For lawn mowers and any gas powered tools, run the device until it is out of fuel. This gets rid of any excess and eliminates having to properly dispose of the gas. Then, sharpen or replace the blades of the lawnmower. Next, you should give the frame of the device a thorough cleaning, removing any caked on dirt and grass clippings.
For battery-powered tools, remove the battery and charge completely; then, hang the equipment inside to protect it from the weather. Lastly, inspect all tools for any sort of extreme damage or wear. If you don’t replace immediately, make a note, so you can replace at a later date.
Preparing your tools for the winter months doesn’t have to be a chore. With adequate planning and preparation, your pre-winter practice can be a breeze. With businesses like Contractors License Resource Group, you can have the opportunity to learn more about your craft and maximize your earning potential. Reflect on past accomplishments during the season, plan new and exciting projects for the new year, or escape from the stress that we all know the holidays can bring with handy work.
Shirley Moore is a freelance writer and a contractor from Santa Monica, California. Combining her expertise in contracting work with her strong writing, she has published many informative articles to news and media outlets around the world. When she is not busy with work, she enjoys working on new projects.