When shopping for durable garden equipment online, it’s not always easy to tell the quality and durability of a garden tool just by looking at a photograph and the brief product description provided. Without having the tool in hand, it takes discernment to really know the difference between a quality garden tool built to last and an inferior tool which looks very similar.
What materials make for durable garden equipment?
Consider the raw materials used to build the equipment. It’s hard to be a garden tool, and plastic is meant to be cheap and disposable. In general, plastic is not an appropriate material for durable garden equipment. Metal is the preferred material for the working end. But, not all metals are appropriate for digging in hard and abrasive soils. Some alloyed metals are strong and lightweight but may be brittle. Weak, thin and flimsy material should be avoided. High carbon steel lends itself very well to digging in the abrasive soils, is durable, and holds a cutting edge very well. The handle should be comfortable, durable, and long lasting if properly cared for. Choose tools with handles made of dimensionally stable hardwood for a longer lasting tool. At Fisher Blacksmithing, I use high carbon steel or extremely durable salvaged metal and American Black Walnut in the construction of my hand crafted garden tools.
Think about the construction process used to create the tools. Were these tools created quickly? Stamped on an assembly line using cheap labor and/or machinery? Or were they carefully constructed by a blacksmith over the forge? At Fisher Blacksmithing, I build each tool by hand, using high quality materials and time honored techniques of hammering and shaping metal over the fire, I am able to create a functional work of art that is as long lasting and durable as it is beautiful.
Durable garden equipment focuses on how the tool is joined.
Nobody wants their tool to fail by coming apart! The joinery used to build hand tools is the important part. If the handle comes out of your trowel, it won’t be very easy to work with. Avoid tools that have the joinery hidden, that are held together by spot welds, cheap nails, or screws. At Fisher Blacksmithing, I use a ball peen hammer to set solid steel rivets while they are still hot from the fire. This creates a good long lasting joint, and in turn, a solid, durable piece of garden equipment. Each tool is scorched into it’s handle while it’s still hot. A solid steel ferrule fitted onto the handle keeps the wood from splitting. These carefully implemented procedures and fittings ensure your tool is useful for many years to come.
Know the craftsman behind your garden equipment.
Can you identify where your tool came from? Chances are, if you’re buying online from a large merchant, you may not even be aware of the brand of your tool, much less the factory it came from or the people who made it. Most commercially available tools are mass produced overseas in poor working conditions where labor is cheap and often unskilled. If you’re buying from an experienced craftsman, you can count on quality construction and good workmanship. When you buy from Fisher Blacksmithing, you get durable American made garden equipment that will stand the test of time. “You get what you pay for” applies to garden equipment like many other things! An inexpensive trowel, hoe, or hand rake from the garden section of your area discount store might last a season in the garden- but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get serious mileage out of such a tool. And, it’s likely you will find yourself “holding back” trying not to break you tools rather than focusing on the task at hand. Poorly made tools have an opportunity cost associated with them. Nobody wants to find themselves without the tools they need when it’s time to work in the garden. Investing in durable garden equipment from Fisher Blacksmithing will allow you to enjoy your work more and, you will have a set of heirloom tools to pass on to the next generation.