High quality hand tools can be quite an investment. If you are big on DIY projects and you generally like to take care of little repairs around the house by yourself then chances are you’ve already spent a fair amount of money on tools. To make sure that your tools last longer and are always in the best shape possible, you need to store them properly and give them a good cleaning every so often. A cleaning twice per year allows for routine inspection to take care of smaller problems before they turn into big ones.
Make sure that you store your tools properly. If you have a workshop and enough wall space, hang your tools on pegboards. If you are in a pinch with space then store them in toolboxes. However you store them, make sure that your tools are always dry.
Garages and workshops are prone to excessive humidity. If there is a lot of moisture in the air, it is only natural that your tools will start to rust. To avoid this, consider investing in a de-humidifier. They are not expensive and will be a great cost saver since you will not be potentially throwing out rusted tools and replacing them after hardly any of use. Using rust collectors is also a smart idea – simply throw them into drawers and they will help keep the rust away from your tools. Avoid leaving any tools on the floor of your workshop or garage, especially on concrete floors. Moisture will easily seep in through concrete and damage your tools.
Always clean your tools after every use. This will prevent damage and rust and it only takes a few minutes at most. Considerably better than having to replace your tools due to being destroyed as a result of simply failing to clean them. Cleaning hand tools is very straightforward. Grab a bucket of warm water, some detergent and plenty of old towels. Soak you tools in warm water mixed with a bit of detergent for about 30 minutes and give them a good drying with the towels after. Makes sure to dry them properly and leave no excess water on them. Following wash and drying, give the metal parts a spritz of WD-40 and dry them off with a clean towel. This thin layer of WD 40 will help protect your tools against the rust. As for the handles, simply wipe them off and for any wooden portions, apply some oil to preserve the wood.
Also, take time to inspect your tools once you get to cleaning them. Splintered wood on the handles should be sanded off or replaced to avoid injuries in the future. If the wood of the handle is slightly splintered simply sand it off until you can’t feel any imperfections when you run your hand over it. If the wood has cracked, then get yourself a new handle. A new handle is likely much cheaper than a visit to the emergency room.
Keep your files, wedges and screwdrivers sharp. If they have mushroomed tips, they pose a hazard and could easily break off and injure you. Sharpen your tools regularly to avoid this problem. If any rust appears on your tools then you indeed have a problem. If the rusting is not excessive, you can easily solve it. Soak the rust in WD 40 and use a heavy duty scrub sponge to remove it. Do not use sand paper as it will damage the metal.
To recap – if you want your tools to last a long time and stay in perfect condition, examine and clean them every six months regardless of use. This will save you headaches, money and help you avoid tool-related injuries.