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14 May 2020: All Mitre 10 and Mitre 10 MEGA stores are now open to the public, with safety protocols in place in line with the Government’s COVID-19 Level 2 action plan. Learn More

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When inspiration strikes and you’re ready to get cracking on the next reno or DIY project, it helps if the tools you need are easy to find and in tip top condition.

Practicing regular tool maintenance will not only save you time and money but it’ll also extend the life of your tools – so here’s a few tips to get you started.

Storage

There are a range of options for tool storage and depending on the available space you could opt for any combination of drawers, pegboards, boxes, bags or chests to keep things organised. It’s best to keep tools in a dry, non-humid environment and remember to keep anything metal hung up off the floor as concrete can often let moisture through which will cause items like garden tools to rust.

The best way to store power tools is to keep them in their original plastic casing or failing that put them in an airtight hard plastic container. For commonly used hand tools that are good for quick fix-ups around the house, consider keeping them within easy access e.g. a small sealed bag or toolbox in the laundry.

Cleaning

Be good to your future self and keep tools in proper working order by giving them a quick clean after each use.  For most hand tools this will mean a wipe down with an old towel and maybe a little soap and water to clear off any dirt. Make sure you dry them thoroughly before storing, and for metal surfaces a quick spray and wipe with WD-40 or CRC will protect them from rusting.

Oiled cotton swabs work wonders for the deep nooks and spaces on power tools, and a damp cloth is great for giving them a general clean (make sure the tool is unplugged first). If you hose down your garden tools after use, give them a good dry in the open air before putting them back in storage. A bit of linseed oil rubbed onto wooden handles will also keep them in good condition.

While cleaning your tools it’s also a good time to check for damage so you can avoid using any items with broken parts or dull edges.  

Sharpening

Get your garden tools ready for spring by sharpening the digging and cutting edges. Use a metal file or sharpening stone and move in long even strokes from one end of the blade edge to the other. Try to match the factory angle of the edge and apply enough pressure so that you see a clean metal path left by the file/stone. It should only take about ten strokes and when you’re done, wipe some protective oil over the blade to keep it in good condition. 

For large blade edges and those with a bit of wear and tear, it could pay to utilise a professional blade sharpening service. But if you feel confident enough to DIY then a grinding wheel will help you to sharpen large blade edges quickly while also getting rid of nicks along the blade (remember to use safety gloves and glasses). For blades like the ones found on a lawn mower, simply detach from the mower and move them slowly across the grinding wheel, applying a small amount of pressure while following the angle of the edge. To sharpen a chainsaw check out our Easy As guide.

Tagging and Testing

A faulty power tool can ruin your day and pose a safety risk, so it’s a good idea to have them regularly tagged and tested. There are a range of qualified testing and tagging services that’ll certify your tools as safe to use and you’ll also find this service offered at selected Mitre 10 and Mitre 10 MEGA stores. 

It’s also a good idea to check your power cords and breakers at the same time, making sure they’re in good condition and keeping you safe.

 

For more advice on looking after tools or to find out about servicing power tools simply ask the team at your nearest Mitre 10 or Mitre 10 MEGA.