How to Save Rusty Tools With Three Things from Your Garage

Winter is a great time to check out magazines or mail order catalogs for fresh seeds and new tools. But wouldn’t you rather spruce up and use your old tools, and spend the money you saved on that box of heirloom tomato seeds or that fresh roll of burlap instead? With just three things from garage, you can save rusty old tools and give them a new lease on life!


First, gather your tools and use a putty knife or steel-wool scrubbing pad to remove large clumps of caked mud from the blades. Be careful with stripping off the paint or finish as it will encourage more rust to form!

Next, you need three things: an old pot or large bucket (large enough to hold all of your metal tools), builder’s sand, and any lubricating oil such as WD-40, motor oil, or even used vegetable oil. Fill the bucket with dry sand until it is two-thirds to three-fourths of the way full, and mix the oil with the sand until it is thoroughly moist but not sopping wet.

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Plunge your hoes, shovels, trowels, forks, and metal dibblers into the sand and oil mix. Place the pot or bucket containing the tools in a cool, dry spot in your shed or garage for winter. You can help keep the wooden tool handles from splitting during the dry winter months by rubbing them with linseed oil before storage.


When spring rolls around, remove the tools from the mixture and wipe down the blades with a piece of burlap or coarse cloth. You can also sharpen the blades at this point with a whetstone.

If you don’t want to winter your tools, you can just plunge them into the mixture several times to remove debris in the fall and then polish with a coarse cloth and hang for storage. Keep the sandy mixture for use anytime you want to spruce up your tools – you can keep adding sand and oil to the mix as needed.