In my best garden spade article I wrote about what I think is a great buy. But if we have an old spade that is still going strong then we can save our money and simply re-vitalize it with a little bit of sharpening. Learning how to sharpen a garden spade is simplicity itself so this is not going to be a mammoth read. Just clear, concise and to the point.
Hooray, I hear you cry!
You are going to read all manner of crazy discussions online just about angles and the like and to honest in my years of experience it pays to keep things as simple as possible. Buy a good quality hand file and that is all that you are going to need. Even a cheap file block will do the trick.
I don’t do technical, I keep things simple. It is ridiculous but you can read all manner of arguments about what the right degree is for the best possible cut on your spade. That way lies madness!!!
Here is what I recommend:
Just use a file and angle it at the angle that already exists on your spade. It may be worn and it may not be a thing of beauty any longer but if it works then it works. Just use a file and place it roughly at the remains of the angle you can see on the spade. Make sure that any notches or sharp pieces of steel are filed away first for safety. Then go over the whole length of the blade, front and back, until you get down to gleaming metal. Concentrate on the beveled side and just clean up the other, the beveled edge is what does the work.
This is assuming the powder coating is long gone. Which if it needs sharpening it will be.
Sharpen until you have gleaming new edge that feels smooth with no splinters of metal or dents and you are going to feel like you have a brand new spade.
One of the easiest ways to keep the new sharpness is to have a box of sand in the shed or somewhere dry. Every now and then simply dig in to the sand, just spear the spade in a few times. It keeps it in great condition and it means that you will not need to use a file again for a good number of years.
Keep spades and other tools dry and keep them indoors. Rust can be a problem and will reduce the life of your spade considerably so bear this in mind.
Now you can go dig that hole you have been putting off!