How To Extend the Life of Tools

This guide for frugal homeowners offers tool tips for refurbishment, proper storage and rust prevention to help you extend the life of your tools and save money.

by Miranda Jackson

How To Extend the Life of Tools photo

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For the frugal homeowner, tools are an investment that can allow for basic money-saving DIY home maintenance and repairs. Proper care can extend the life of your tools, ensuring they remain in good working condition for years.

Here’s a quick guide to keeping your tools in top shape, from proper storage to rust prevention and refurbishment.

Refurbish Old Tools

Tools can be costly to replace. Regular cleaning and refurbishment can help you save.

Assess and Repair

Begin by assessing your tools for any wear or damage. Tighten loose handles and screws, and replace worn-out parts like washers or bolts. For wooden handles, sand down any splinters or rough edges and treat with linseed oil to restore the finish and prevent drying out.


Keep cutting tools like shears, knives and mower blades sharp. A dull tool is not only inefficient but can also be dangerous. Use a sharpening stone or a file for smaller tools, and consider a professional sharpening service for larger items like saw blades.


After each use, clean your tools to remove dirt, sap or grease. Use soapy water and a stiff brush for general cleaning. For metal parts, wiping with a rag dipped in mineral spirits can help remove stubborn grime. In a well-ventilated area, dip the steel wool in mineral spirits, rub liberally and watch your tools come back to life. Ensure tools are completely dry before storing them to prevent rust.

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Store Gear Properly

Proper storage can protect tools and make it easier to get repair and maintenance tasks done when you can easily find what you need.

Dry Environment

Store your tools in a dry place to prevent moisture accumulation, which can lead to rust and decay. A garage shelf or a tool shed is ideal, but make sure it’s not prone to dampness. Placing silica gel packs or rust-preventing vapor capsules in toolboxes or enclosed cabinets or drawers can absorb excess moisture.

Organized Storage

Invest in affordable storage solutions like pegboards or tool chests. Organizing tools makes it easier to find what you need and prevents tools from being damaged by improper storage. To avoid clutter, hang larger tools and keep smaller ones in drawers or a toolbox with dividers.

Tool Maintenance

Regularly check your storage area for signs of pests, leaks or mold, which can damage your tools over time. Keeping the area clean and well-ventilated can prevent many common issues associated with tool storage.

Keep Tools and Equipment Rust-Free

Don’t let rust and corrosion ruin your valuable tools and equipment. Use these tips to prevent and remove rust.


Before long-term storage, apply a light coat of oil or a rust-preventing spray to metal parts. Products like WD-40 or even a light rub-down with an oily rag can protect surfaces from moisture and air that cause oxidation.

Usage and Handling

Handling tools with clean, dry hands or gloves can minimize the transfer of corrosive substances, such as sweat, onto the metal surfaces. Clean and dry tools immediately after use, especially if exposed to moisture or acidic materials.

Regular Inspections

Regularly inspect your tools for signs of rust. Early detection and treatment can prevent further damage. Small rust spots can be treated with a wire brush or sandpaper to remove the rust, followed by proper coating to reseal the surface. For more extensive rust, you may need a cleaner designed for rust removal.

Increase the Shelf Life if Your Tools and Save

By implementing these straightforward maintenance routines, homeowners can significantly extend the lifespan and performance of their tools. Caring for your tools saves money in the long run and enhances the overall safety and efficiency of home maintenance and repair tasks. With just a bit of effort, your toolkit will remain a reliable resource for many years.

Reviewed April 2024

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