Have you ever tried to saw through a steak with a dull knife? Or cut a piece of fabric with scissors that aren’t as sharp as they used to be? While these are minor annoyances, replacing worn cutlery or cutting tools can be a major expense. But you can reduce wear-and-tear on your sharp tools to make sure they last.
Following are some tips for keeping tools in shape.
A good chef’s knife is one of the most important tools in any kitchen. This knife can handle most tasks – slicing, dicing, chopping, carving – but only if the blade is sharp.
Never store your knives loose in a drawer, because contact with other utensils can dull the blade. Store knives in a knife block, or on a magnetic knife strip.
Hand-wash knives with mild detergent instead of putting them in the dishwasher. While abrasive sharpening stones are good for knives, abrasive dishwashing detergent isn’t. And resist the urge to drag your knife across a cutting board to scrape it clean – that’s a surefire way to wear out your knife.
Garden shears, hedge-trimmers and loppers must be sharp to work effectively. A dull set of shears can damage delicate plants and neglected hedge-trimmers can mangle shrubs.
After using garden tools, wipe them down with a soft cloth to remove moisture, dirt and debris. Store tools in a dry area and individually – you can install a sheet of pegboard for clean, orderly tool storage.
Even when you take good care of your garden tools, if they’re made of steel, they may still become rusty. To prevent rust – or to remove it – wipe cutting blades with machine oil. For power hedge-trimmers, use a spray lubricant to lightly coat the moving parts.
If you’ve got one pair of scissors for fabric, paper and trimming your hair, you’re doing it wrong. Scissors may look similar, but they’re designed for specialized tasks. Sometimes, you might reach for the wrong pair of scissors simply because they’re within arm’s reach, so keep task-specific shears where you use them most – fabric scissors in a craft room, hair scissors in the bathroom and paper scissors with your other office supplies. And remind the other occupants of your household to use scissors only for their intended purpose.
Wipe down scissors if they get wet, and store them individually, or wrapped in a cloth, to minimize contact with other objects that may dull the blades. You can use a dab of mineral oil or machining oil to loosen sticky scissors at the pivot point.
When you invest in good tools, you want them to last – and it doesn’t take much effort to keep your knives, garden tools and scissors as sharp as they day you bought them.