There’s a natural tendency to believe that authors share those helpful, how-to blog posts because they know what they are talking about and have sufficient experience to know the methods they share are effective. Well not this time folks! You should not do what I do when it comes to caring for your tools. You should do better!
Around this time, every year, I decide to do some major cleaning and sharpening of all my bonsai tools. Why now? Because I’m bored. There’s nothing to cut with my scissors, so I will sharpen them instead!
The problem is, I don’t really do much tool care except for this one time per year — and I should be ashamed of myself! That’s where you need to do better. I know I should clean my tools more often, but I just don’t.
One of the tool care items I should use more often, because it really is a great, easy to use item, is this thing:
You wanna know what it’s called? Read the package… and then tell me what it says. I can tell you that you should be able to find this or a similar product by searching “rust eraser” online. And that’s what it is. It’s a small rubbery abrasive block that is great for removing rust, sap and other buildup from your tools.
Take a look at the dark, sappy buildup on the inside of this concave cutter blade, above, for example. After just a little careful rubbing, making sure not to rub my fingers against any sharp blades, the deposits are gone, below.
Using this abrasive cleaning tool is step one in my big cleaning and sharpening event today. I pulled out a pile of tools and examined each for areas that needed cleaned and used the rust eraser on everything first.
Then I checked each to see if sharpening was needed. Today I used my son’s three sided wet stone assembly to take care of any sharpening that was needed. (Thanks, Cole.)
The trickiest part about sharpening is laying the blade at the correct angle on the stone. It takes some practice, and if you are not used to sharpening your own tools, there are a bunch of helpful videos available on line.
Another check I make on each tool is that the hinges haven’t come loose. I didn’t need to correct anything this year, but many bonsai tools can be tightened up with a good hammer whack against an anvil or other solid surface.
With everything cleaned up and sharpened, the last thing I do is give everything a spray and wipe down with good ol’ WD-40.
There’s nothing better for keeping water away from your steel, so I make sure everything has a good protective layer on it. I don’t even mind if the tools are a little bit oily right now. I can wipe them off more later. They are just going to sit around for the rest of the winter, waiting for spring to come so they can get busy again.
Kinda like me.