ABC Wednesday 5: W is for...

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 :)
Update: Soilman's quite rightly pointed out in the Comments that the use of engine oil's a no-no, so let's stick with Constant Gardener's original advice!

Why not visit the ABC Wednesday blog, for a Whole feast of Ws?


  1. I only use the finest Extra Virgin Otter Farm Olive OIl: as a result my tools are extremely rusty!
    Have a very lovely Christmas, VP.
    I look forward to bumping into you all over the place next year
    lots of love

  2. I learnt that same fact about the name last week from a friend! Cool. We use it too but have also found that we need a sharpening stone fast.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours xx

  3. W is also for wondrous stuff. Where would we be without it. I would be pleased if there were a can in my Christmas stocking.

  4. I can't imagine a world without WD-40! Headed to the garage now to spray the blades. Merry Christmas!

  5. Oh now I know what is the best for my tools. WD-40 is the answer of it all...I hate it when every spring I buy tools all over again it is a waste of money to do it all the time. Thank you for sharing this...Merry Christmas!

  6. I agree with Colleen, although I'll pass on a can being in my Christmas stocking! Flighty xx

  7. I used to carry WD 40 around with me as well, but for some reason it never worked. I later found out I used it on the wrong part of the engine!

    Merry Christmas from the Netherlands

  8. Thanks for that bit of info - will surprise the boys with my technical info

  9. A wonderfully useful W post :)

  10. I never knew that about WD 40 standing for water displacement. The things you learn on blogs... Have a great Christmas.

  11. Water displacement, huh? I hope I can retain this bit of information in case it comes up. I'll sound so smart:) Good info. Good product.
    Happy Holidays!

  12. I'm a BIG fan of WD-40 for the squeaky doors. But it doesn't work on my creaky knees, unfortunately.

  13. Would advise against using the dipstick oil method, folks: used engine oil is very nasty stuff – full of carcinogens and heavy metals. Not something you regularly want on your hands or your veg garden...

  14. Winnie the mini used to run on WD40. Did you ever use the rubber glove over the carburettor trick too?

    Merry Christmas and thanks for the fab blogging over the year - always something interesting to read.

  15. Fascinating info about how this useful product got its name--I always wondered about that.

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, VP!

  16. I'm a huge fan of WD 40. It seems a wonder-oil to me.

    A word of warning for people with grass eating pets like guinea pigs - you shouldn't cut grass for them with oiled sheers.

    It's a great shame that Philip's Garden Blog seems to have stopped but I remember reading there the idea of having a bucket of sand outside the shed / store-room. Shove your garden fork in and out of it each time you put it away helps to keep it shiny and sharp.


  17. I see there's a lot of WD-40 fans out there :)

    Soilman's quite right, so I've updated the post to warn everyone off using engine oil. Thanks for the reminder Soilman!

    New Shoot - tried just about everything with my mini to keep it going. I was really sad the day it went though, because it was my first car.


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