Japanese Trenching Hoe  




Sharpen the outside edge. Unlike a garden hoe, this does not set the angle for the tool's usage in a way as to make the tool's use problematic.

Japanese gardens ask that you go beyond the garden spiritually, that you look at the garden not merely as an object but also as a path into the realms of spirit.

Makoto Ooka

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 throughout the gardening activity.

General Guidelines
α Micro Bevel Notes
30° +5°

Adding a micro bevel to the cutting edge makes resharpening this tool easier.

I've not found a Tormek jig which can assist with sharpening this tool. The sharpener will need to do the work with a machinist's hand file.

Notes & Comments

Shaping the edge

Japanese gardening tools are typically high-carbon steel, and a 12-14" bastard file machinist’s hand file will work sufficiently well. Experience has shown that this style of hand file also works quite well in removing nicks from the edge after my wife or children have used the tool.

Using a bench or angle grinder is not recommended as this will surely overheat the tool, removing the temper from the edge. Additionally, the shaping of the edge is difficult to control.

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

  1. Start with a 8-10" medium (or second) cut file.
  2. Finish with a 6" smooth cut file, then use this file to remove the burr.

Ongoing Maintenance

Be sure to remove all caked-on dirt. 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).

Camellia Oil Spray Bottle

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

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 might 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.

Tools in Storage

Gardening tools 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.)

Petroleum jelly is another option.

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 SharpeningHandbook@Gmail.com.