Over the last 100 years or so, the range of garden tools has increased by varying degrees. Long gone are the wooden tools of times past and enter the high priced copper and stainless steel garden tools of today. Although the range of tools needed to maintain a garden today is relatively small, you should always handle, touch and feel tools for comfort and ease before purchasing them.
A vast majority of gardening tools are not what they seem or claim to be. And even some high quality garden tools that were meant and expected to last always don’t. This is particularly true for them. Not all stainless steel is alike. Although basically made of the same chemical composition, there is a valid reason that some stainless garden tools cost more than others. If you’re choosing a tool made of ordinary carbon or stainless steel, be sure to remember how you will be using it.
Rust will form on ordinary carbon steel if left unused for periods of time, and a shiny stainless steel one will wear away quickly with more frequent use, while copper garden tools are said to be more beneficial to the soil because they are non magnetic and add traces of the metal to the soil as they are used. If you are a serious gardener, hand forged ones are always a good investment, because they don’t rust and their surfaces will stay smooth, making them easy to clean. And, unless the stainless steel blade wears down, it will continue to through soil like a brand new knife.
Copper gardening tools, being made from bronze and tin, an alloy of copper, are more hard wearing and are a bit more pricey, but they will not corrode as quickly as or easily as iron tools. The tools of today are made of some of the sturdiest materials around but they are not indestructible, so as with all your fine tools always take the proper care of your tools and use them for the purpose that they were intended for.
Proper care is essential to any garden tool to keep them in tip top shape and this includes the stainless steel ones as well. Stainless steel (noted for its hardness) has a nicer feel and probably boasts the best blades. An alloy of iron, stainless steel it contains more than 10 % chromium, and while it resists stains it will dull and if the hard oxide coating is removed from the surface from corrosion or wear it will rust like regular steel.
There are many stainless steel cleaners on the market as well as cleaning kits to keep your steel ones in top condition. However, a simple tip to keep your tools shiny, is to simply clean all dirt and grime off your tools after each use as with any other tool and never put them away wet. Make sure that they are clean and dry, be certain to keep them sharp and lightly oiled and yours will be able to last for years to come.