How to Restore Garden Shovels


Most of us have one tool in the shed that needs serious rehabilitation. It may be old or have a broken handle. It is probably a garden shovel or spade that is used more than any other. Setting out to restore a garden shovel is a simple matter.

Step 1

Lay the shovel flat on a work area or potting bench. Clean the shovel head thoroughly, using the household abrasive or scrubbing compound and the nylon scrubber. Use the wire brush or the emery cloth to remove rust or corrosion.

Step 2

Reduce nicks on the edges of the shovel by drawing the file along the edge of the blade. Sharpen the blade by drawing the file down across the edge of the blade at the same angle as the original edge.

Step 3

Sand the wooden handle to remove any splinters. Pull the emery cloth around like a shoe-shine motion, then sand with the direction of the grain.

Step 4

Replace the handle if necessary with a new ash handle. Drill out the rivet on the shank, the part of the shovel that slips onto the handle. Use a nail punch and a hammer to work pieces loose. A new handle should slip into the shank until it is tight, then be secured with a screw or rivet like the old one. If the new handle wobbles, sand the stub until it fits snugly into the shank.

Step 5

Rub the clean shovel with the soft cloth and the mineral oil to clean and seal the metal. Wipe it with the clean cloth to remove excess oil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear safety glasses when filing, sanding or grinding metal edges.

Things You'll Need

  • Household abrasive or scrubbing compound
  • Nylon scrubber
  • Wire brush
  • Emery cloth
  • Soft cloth
  • Mineral oil
  • Long file
  • New shovel shank
  • Hammer and nail set or drill
  • Safety glasses


  • Reconditioning Garden Tools

Who Can Help

  • Maintaining Garden Tools
  • Garden Tool Maintenance
Keywords: garden shovel, spade, emery cloth

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.