This post is especially for Helena and The Constant Gardener, who both commented recently when ABC Wednesday stood at S for Secateurs.
Helena asked the question:
How do you keep yours from going rusty? I'm sure I dry them off but when I come back to use them again in the spring they are stuck fast and at least a little rusty and never the same again! I wonder if rubbing a little olive oil on them would work....
The Constant Gardener kindly answered:
Helena - WD40. Spray, preferably, all over the blade + joint when you put them away for the winter.
Though I carry on using mine all winter long these days... and just a few drops of 3 in 1 [a brand of oil which claims to have rust inhibiting properties - Ed] on the bolt that holds everything together from time to time seems to keep everything in tip-top working order.
Because this conversation concerned tools, NAH (who was peering over my shoulder at the time) couldn't resist joining in. Apparently his dad used to use the oil from the end of his car's dipstick, so it looks like most kinds of oil will do the trick. I've even heard of baby oil being used. NAH also added that if you can bring your secateurs indoors over the winter, then there isn't really the need for oil nor WD-40, assuming you've wiped the blades dry after using them and your house has a dry atmosphere. However, if it hasn't or if your shed or garage is where they'll be over the next few months, then WD-40's the way to go. I'd still use the oil too, so the blades are ready to get cracking when you start winter or spring pruning.
NAH then also told me the name WD-40 is the shortened form of Water Displacement - 40th attempt: apparently the inventor had 39 attempts before he hit on the formulation which actually worked! As soon as he told me that, I immediately knew what I was going to use for W today. I for one am very pleased the inventor persisted, because a can was part of the required toolkit for my old-style Mini when I owned one. The merest hint of rain and my car would refuse to move: one spray with the can and off it would go again. It's a known problem with them and all kinds of protective covers were made to go under the bonnet, but nothing worked quite as well as good old WD-40 :)