DIY enthusiast or not, most gardeners own some form of power tool, be it a lawnmower, a hedge-trimmer or a chainsaw. We all exercise caution when using these tools, but it is just as important to look after them when they are not being used.
With a hefty dose of common sense and a few tips you can keep your tools in the best condition, not only for performance, but also for safety.
Careful Tool Assembly
The first thing to do is to make sure your tools are correctly assembled according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The safety guards should be in place and all switches in working order.
Always keep the instructions so you can refer back to them if a problem occurs. It is also a good idea to maintain any labels or nameplates on the tool so that you can refer to information.
Big or Small, Check Them All
Smaller power tools such as strimmers need minimal maintenance. Clean them after each use and store them in a dry place. Tighten any movable components and generally check regularly for wear and tear, replacing parts when necessary.
Bigger tools such as lawnmowers or chainsaws which use oil will need the oil and oil filter changing. How often depends on the make, but always check with the manufacturer.
With chainsaws, you will need to check the chain periodically for wear and tear. You will need to keep an eye on the tension of the chain but remember to wait until it has cooled down before re-tensioning. It should be neither too loose, nor too tight. If in doubt, have a look at your instructions or seek advice from a professional.
These tools are used on a seasonal basis so before you store them away, check that they are clean and free from sawdust and grass and that any oil or diesel has been drained.
Sharp Blades are Safer
If you have a chainsaw or a hedge-trimmer it is vital to keep blades sharp and clean. Although this seems counter-intuitive, a blunt blade means a dangerous tool as you have to work harder to complete the cut.
In this case you risk the tool kicking back, slipping or binding. Not only is sharper safer, the cut will be cleaner as well. Check your blade regularly and sharpen it where possible or replace it.
Inspect your tools on a regular basis to ensure there are no broken parts, frayed cords or loose switches. Any moving parts should be cleaned regularly and lubricated as recommended by the manufacturer. Replacement parts must be compatible so it is best to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
If you are at all unsure, take your tool to a professional. This is especially important for the larger power tools such as lawnmowers and chainsaws. Be careful when you unplug electric tools. Make sure you pull the plug itself, not the cord, as this can cause the cord to come away from the plug.
Last Word — Storage
And finally, just as is it wise not to use your tools in damp or wet conditions, it is best to store them safely in a dry place. Damp or humidity will rust any metal components, reducing their shelf life and their efficiency. Unplug your tools and don’t wrap the cords around them as the twisting can eventually damage the cords.
These are all very simple measures and take little time. Once you get into the routine of checking your tools each time you finish using them, it will become second nature. You will find your tools last longer and your jobs easier and safer.