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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Syonyk on September 16, 2017, 09:11:17 PM

Title: Do you sharpen your shovels?
Post by: Syonyk on September 16, 2017, 09:11:17 PM
I was helping out with someone else's yardwork this morning (a bunch of us from our church showed up to help out), and a few times, the topic of shovel sharpening came up.  I sharpen most of my shovels - I put a 45 degree single sided edge on it, from the top of the shovel.  Going from a square edge to the 45 degree edge took quite a while with a file the first time, but after that, maintaining it is quite easy - perhaps 5 minutes with a file every few months.  Or a few minutes with a file before I start a big project.

Apparently, nobody else has ever heard of doing this.  But my shovel cut through hard dirt a lot better. ;)

So, do other people do this?  Or are most people content slamming a square edged shovel into the dirt?

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Also, at the same time, the whole "muscle vs machine" thing got a good test.  We were helping trench for irrigation.  A crew of about 5-6 people were trenching the old fashioned way with pickaxes and trenching shovels (satisfyingly, I had to sharpen my pickaxe afterwards, and saw a few good sparks in the process of breaking out rock).  We got... oh, 30' trenched.  And, based on the rate of progress, someone suggested renting a trencher.  In about twice the time that it took to trench 30', with 6 people, two of us trenched several hundred feet throughout the property.  Just... kind of impressive to see the difference that a few horsepower of gas engine makes.  There's no way we would have gotten all that trenched manually today. :/
Title: Re: Do you sharpen your shovels?
Post by: yourusernamehere on September 16, 2017, 09:17:00 PM
I have one straight shovel that I use for edging, and my dad sharpened that for me when I first got my house (10 years ago.) I have only sharpened it twice since, but it makes a huge difference for the edging. (Dad owned and operated a successful landscaping business with his dad. I assume he got the sharpening trick from his professional experience.)
Title: Re: Do you sharpen your shovels?
Post by: Jaayse on September 17, 2017, 06:53:15 AM
I know we sharpened our shovels for the archaeological dig that I worked on one summer while in college.  It made a big difference!  We had to keep our holes perfectly square in order to record what we found in the correct quadrants... of course i also dug a hole big enough to sit in with an unsharpened spoon and ladle (brushes only work in sandy areas). 
Title: Re: Do you sharpen your shovels?
Post by: aperture on September 17, 2017, 07:03:38 AM
Going to add "sharpen shovels" to the list of things to do once I retire.  -aperture
Title: Re: Do you sharpen your shovels?
Post by: BTDretire on September 17, 2017, 11:35:16 AM
Of course!
Especially important when digging sod and cutting roots.
Title: Re: Do you sharpen your shovels?
Post by: Goldielocks on September 17, 2017, 04:11:28 PM
I keep meaning to, but where I live, the sod is a lot softer than the prairies / clay.

Also, I read a tip to take a 5 gallon bucket, fill with sand, add a quart of motor oil, and then, after you hose off your shovel  shove it in your bucket a few times before hanging it up in the garage... 
Title: Re: Do you sharpen your shovels?
Post by: AccidentalMiser on September 17, 2017, 04:26:11 PM
I keep meaning to, but where I live, the sod is a lot softer than the prairies / clay.

Also, I read a tip to take a 5 gallon bucket, fill with sand, add a quart of motor oil, and then, after you hose off your shovel  shove it in your bucket a few times before hanging it up in the garage...

I both sharpen my shovels (though not as often as I should) and treat them in a similar manner to what you described.  My father taught me well when it comes to tools.
Title: Re: Do you sharpen your shovels?
Post by: Syonyk on September 17, 2017, 04:49:46 PM
I need an oil bucket. :/  My shovels are sharp, but have a bit more surface rust than I'm proud of.