My father owned a small hardware store (as did my grandfather and great grandfather). He sold tools. People bought them. I wonder how many of those tools are still functional today? To ensure the tools you buy today are still around for your grandchildren to work with, you’ll need to take care of them and that means regular maintenance. For pruning tools, keep them sharp and in good working order. To sharpen hedge shears, hand pruners, and lopping shears use a carborundum sharpening stone or graphite rod. Replacement blades are available for many styles. Pruning saws should be professionally sharpened or periodically replaced. To reduce cost, many styles have replaceable blades.
Keeping tools clean and sanitized is as important as keeping them sharp. Although sanitizing tools may be inconvenient, doing so may prevent the spread of disease from infected to healthy plants on contaminated tools. Tools become contaminated when they come into contact with fungi, bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that cause disease in plants. Most pathogens need some way of entering the plant to cause disease, and fresh wounds are perfect places for infections to begin. Microorganisms on tool surfaces are easily introduced into susceptible plants when subsequent cuts are made.
There are ample tutorials and info on sanitizing between pruning cuts. To sum up, before each branch is cut, sanitize pruning tools with either 70 percent denatured alcohol or with liquid household bleach diluted 1:9 with water (1 part bleach : 9 parts water). To sanitize your gardening tools for before the season, they should be immersed in the same aforementioned solution, preferably for one-to-two minutes, and pruning debris and particles should be wiped from all cutting surfaces. Since bleach is corrosive to metal surfaces, tools should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water after each use, then machine oil or penetrating oil spray applied. Silicone sprays are great for squeaks, but protect the steel with an oil based solution.
When the big boxes made it impossible for the little guy, my dad sold the old hardware store and he handed me a few tools. I have many of them but I’d have even more if I were more rigorous in following my own advice. Some of the Made in the USA tools of yesteryear are the best tools ever made–it’s a shame there wasn’t a blog like this one around back when those tools transferred from his hand to mine. If there were, I might have a mint set of American-made tools in the shed instead of offshore tools that simply don’t hold up no matter how much loving care you bestow in them.