Garden & Warren Hoes

I recommend sharpening the edge closer to the user as it makes the angle for using the tool easier, i.e., the user can stand more upright. If the other edge is sharpened, the user will have to bend down to use it, and the joy of gardening will be lost.

Shaping the edge: New hoes I have purchased have an angle (α) of 90°. Therefore, initial shaping of the edge is to be expected.

Use an angle grinder with a 120 grit flap disc. A metal grinding wheel may be needed for large-scale shaping. In either case, be sure to not overheat the metal too much: it weakens the metal.

Sharpening the edge: Use a machinist’s hand file.

  1. Start with a 12-14" bastard file (as necessary).
  2. Next, continue with a 8-10" medium (or second) cut file.
  3. Finish with a 6" smooth cut file, then use this file to remove the burr.

A 6" smooth cut machinist’s hand file is useful to carry in your gardening tools box. Use it to resharpen the hoe as needed through the gardening activity.

General Guidelines
Purpose Notes
Weeding 25°
This is a good selection for weeding in the garden. It is sharp enough that it shears the weeds well at the ground level.

This could be as great as 30°; hoever that is not usually necessary.

Warren hoes are typically used for weeding.

Non-weeding / General Use 45°
This is a good selection if the hoe is used for purposes other than weeding. The higher angle will help keep it from dulling quickly.

Notes & Comments

Be sure to remove all caked-on dirt. If left in place, this will encourage rust, especially on the unpainted surfaces. A wire brush or putty knife can be useful for this. A well-kept tool will last your lifetime, and will still be usable by your children (and maybe your grandkids).

Sap can be removed using a solvent. Acetone works well, but be sure to wear protective clothing as this is not kind to your body, and be sure the area is well ventilated.

After using any solvent, be sure to apply a thin coat of camellia oil to the tool. Some advocate using boiled linseed oil (BLO), but BLO often has heavy metals or other bad chemicals added for drying agents, and these are not good for you to handle, nor would they be good for the plants on which you'll use this tool.

If the tool was exposed to any diseased plants or soil which is infected with pests, give it a quick wash in diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 8 parts water), and then rinse with plain water. Be sure to dry afterwards, and apply a thin coat of camellia oil.

Hoes often get stored for a while after sharpening, so it is recommended to oil the sharpened surface with camellia oil. (Indeed, all unpainted surfaces would benefit from this.)

I like the spray bottle of camellia oil sold by Tools for Working Wood.

Another option is petroleum jelly.

About this site
Remember : The goal of sharpening is to produce sharp tools, and these tools can injure you if mishandled. Safety measures should be followed to protect yourself and those in your shop. Be sure to read and follow all instructions from the manufacturer, and and utilize proper safety equipment. Never consume alcohol or anything that could impair your judgement before sharpening tools, or using sharp tools. Comments can be sent via eMail to me at