By Christopher Lankford, ERG, LLC
After working in the field for many years (especially in this Kentucky clay) I’ve learned it’s important to have functioning tools for any job. Well maintained tools help ensure that the job gets done. Here is an overview of some simple maintenance practices for two important tools of the trade: shovel and screen.
Clean the shovel of any dirt or mud with water, dish soap, and a heavy duty scrub brush. Then dry the shovel very well and apply WD 40 to the spade. After oiling the spade, wipe it very well with a towel. This will prevent further rusting and add longer use to the shovel.
Check the shovel for wear and tear. In doing so we examine where the handle connects to the collar of the spade. If the handle is loose, we may need a tighter fastener or the handle might be cracked within the collar. If the handle is cracked use a new handle and fasten it to the spade collar using a brad nail. If there is any damage to the spade such as a crack in the step or anywhere else, we may need a new shovel at this point.
Whether digging in silty or sandy loams or compact clays, a sharpened shovel is always an advantage. To sharpen the shovel we will use a paddle switch angle grinder. However, before operating the grinder, remember to take the right safety precautions. Wear safety goggles to protect the eyes from flying sparks, use ear plugs for noise and wear safety gloves to prevent any hand injuries. After using the grinder, finish sharpening with a (single cut) hand file to add a finer edge to the spade blade.
Make certain that the screen is fully functional for the excavation. Examine the screen for any holes or tears in the mesh. Always have a roll of mesh screen in storage for replacement repairs. Check for any loose fasteners, either by tightening or replacing fasteners where needed. An impact driver does the job very efficiently. A screen in top notch condition makes all the difference in the field.
Practicing these simple maintenance steps guarantee a longer use out of the shovel and screen and ensure more efficient work productivity.
*All photos are taken by author and permitted for use in this blog post, courtesy of ERG, LLC.