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Friday Favorite: Vintage Garden Tools

April 11th, 2014

I’m a huge fan of old tools, they’re just so much better than newer ones. You can still buy good quality garden tools but they’re pricy. The ones you get at the local home improvement store are generally not that great. I buy garden tools when I see them in good condition at yard sale and antique store.
vintage tools 1
I’m amassing quite a collection. I have purchased a few new tools, when I need a specific tool and don’t haven’t found a good vintage one.  You can certainly spot the new tool in the group above!
vintage tools 2
potager walkway 2
One thing I love about vintage tools is the old wood handles. These handles are made of wonderful hardwood, they don’t bend and they rarely break and they do it while being beautiful and quite comfortable to use.  I also love that old garden tool handles are not the same width all the way down, this makes them super comfortable to use.  You can tell they were made for people who used their garden tools a lot!
vintage tools 3
Earlier this week I spent some time sanding down all the handles to my tools and giving them a protective coating of wax that I make up (recipe to come next week). Many gardeners do this in the fall, I prefer to do it in the spring. I know the hour or so this takes will protect these tools and make them last for another generation.
vintage tools 1 (1)
vintage tools 2 (1)
When the weather warms up I scrub them with steel wool and give the metal parts a protective coating of organic boiled linseed oil (the real stuff, no cheap stuff with petroleum additives).
vintage tools 4
The best part of vintage tools is the price. Generally, I spend between $3-$8 for each one. You certainly can’t beat that price. I also love knowing that these tools work on when they come to my home. They are doing what they were made to be doing and what the gardener before me did with them. I think perhaps they bring a little bit of the previous gardeners spirit to my garden as well!

Do you have any vintage garden tools?

9 Comments to “Friday Favorite: Vintage Garden Tools”
  1. Ilene on April 11, 2014 at 6:35 am

    I’m glad you posted this!

    I made some “spoon oil”, following a recipe posted on Chickens In The Road and then after I’d rubbed it into every wooden kitchen tool I had and posted about it on MY blog, people commented that one of the ingredients in the recipe, the Mineral Oil, was a carcinogen if exposed to food. Sheesh. So I put my jar of “spoon oil” away, not having a good idea about how to use it and not wanting to dispose of it because the beeswax I used in it had been kind of hard to get.

    So now you have given me the idea of using this stuff on the wooden handles of my garden implements! I have many, and yes, I buy mine at garage sales and usually only pay a dollar or two apiece.

    I’m wondering if you’ve seen those yard art “animals” that are made out of garden tools that have lost their handles. I have broken handles on a few implements and am saving the metal parts for in case I make the acquaintance of a welder some day.

    Reply to Ilene's comment

  2. AGinPA on April 11, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Thank you for the excellent idea. It hadn’t occurred to me to acquire tools that way but I’d love to have old, high quality ones instead of newer, cheaply made ones. I’m going to have to start looking.

    Reply to AGinPA's comment

  3. Nebraska Dave on April 11, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Susy, I send out local emails to all my friends and family about many life things happening but most of them are about gardening. As a result when they move and decide their gardening days are finished, they think of me and my use of tools. I have purchased very few tools. However, being that they are amateur gardeners the quality of the tools are some times a bit lacking. I am going to use those of lesser quality with my family of scare crows that I want to build for the garden this year.

    I did get the cucumber/turnip/parsnip bed rejuvenated yesterday. It was a perfect 10 day yesterday. Started the day with 53 and made its way to 68. That was very nice for working in the garden beds. I have the green bean/radish/lettuce bed to go. I may go to Terra Nova Gardens today to start laying out the rows for sweet corn. Life is good in Nebraska.

    Have a great vintage tool Friday.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  4. Terri on April 11, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    My hubby and I look for older garden tools as well at flea markets and yard sales. We are in total agreement that they are much better than what can be purchased new today for the most part. The price is usually much better and the fun part is the reaction of people when they find out that we have every intention of using them for their intended purpose!

    Reply to Terri's comment

  5. daisy on April 12, 2014 at 6:04 am

    What a great way to collect quality tools. My gardening coach has many vintage tools (garden and otherwise) from his family. He’s been schooling me on what to look for as far as how they are made differently than today’s tools. They are solid, for sure.

    How often do you do the sanding/waxing process?

    Reply to daisy's comment

    • Natasha on April 13, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      I am interested in the process, too.

      Reply to Natasha's comment

  6. amy on April 14, 2014 at 10:40 am

    All of mine are but one shovel. I also buy at yard sales….or barn sales in the summer. Some I inherited from my grandparents when they passed away. They are especially special:)

    Reply to amy's comment

  7. Terry on April 30, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Great post!

    I have several old tools that I inherited from my grandpa (from the early 1900s) that need some preservation. I’ll be working on the handles for sure!

    Reply to Terry's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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