Garden Tool Handle Care

Introduction: Garden Tool Handle Care

About: Steward to about 20,000 trees on 40 acres.

I like older, wooden handle garden tools for their feel and, usually, the price. Often they have been neglected or abused so they need a little TLC. The handle in the first photo has been left untreated for years. As a result it is dry, rough and users are likely to get a sliver. To make this tool more user-friendly you will need:

Sandpaper or an electric sander

Wire brush

Bench vise (optional)

Boiled linseed oil


The First Step

If you have a vise, clamp the tool in it and sand off all the dry, rough wood. This step goes quickly if you have an orbital sander.

With the wood smoothed (photo 2) use the wire brush to remove loose rust from the metal collar at the tool end of the handle (photo 3). Wipe all sawdust from the handle and rust from the collar.

Step 1: Finishing Up

Pour some boiled linseed oil into the rag and apply it to the handle and the metal collar. Let the oil soak in for a couple of days and then apply a second coat. The "boiled" oil isn't really boiled but has a couple of processes or additives that make it dry more quickly. You can use regular linseed oil but it may take weeks to dry.

For all your wooden handle tools, apply a coat of boiled linseed oil in the Fall before they go into storage for the year to keep them in good shape.

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    Question 4 years ago

    does the oil need to be the boiled sort or could you use standard linseed oil, I got the impression boiled oil was just for colour but I could be wrong on that.


    Answer 4 years ago

    From what I have read the "boiled" just dries more quickly. Plain linseed oil may take weeks to dries verses days for the "boiled".