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What you need:
  • 8" medium mill bastard file
  • Steel wool
  • Light machine oil
  • Wire brush
  • Whetstone
  • Naval jelly
Keeping the blade of a shovel or hoe sharp will improve the tool's usefulness. Start the process by clamping the shovel in a vise. Position the shovel so that the blade is facing downwards at a 45 degree angle. Use an 8" bastard mill flat file to sharpen the blade. Grasp the file in both hands and push away from your body in long fluid strokes. Do not file in both directions. Try to keep the file at 45 degree angle to the blade. This will result in a bevel that is sharp yet sturdy. If you put too sharp of an edge on your shovel, there's a good chance it will dent or break if it hits anything solid.
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Check the bevel by placing the file against the new edge. Before you start working on a tool, you should check the current bevel and try to maintain the same shape while sharpening.
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After you are satisfied with the tool's bevel, you will need to remove the burr that is left after sharpening. Turn the blade over and use a whetstone to file down the burr. Apply a small amount of light machine oil to the stone and gently rub it over the burr in a circular motion until it is gone.
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The final step is to wipe the entire blade down with steel wool and more machine oil. The coating of oil will help to prevent the blade from rusting.