Maintaining numerous tools in your garden can be confusing. For instance, you may get confused about how sharp some tools should be. The key is understanding the function of each tool, such as the Dutch hoe.
A Dutch hoe needs to be sharp because its primary purpose is to cut through weeds. Ideally, it should be sharpened to a 25-35° angle, which is sharp enough to cut weeds and sturdy enough to sustain the weight of the soil.
In the rest of the article, I will discuss why the Dutch hoe needs to be sharp, how sharp it should be, and how to maintain its blade in good condition. Keep reading!
Why Does a Dutch Hoe Need To Be Sharp?
Since its creation several centuries ago, a Dutch hoe has been used as a helpful weeding tool. Its design allows you to thrust the tool on the ground’s surface or just beneath it to cut the weeds the blades come across. This function requires the Dutch hoe to be sharp.
There are several types of gardening hoes. Similar to other weeding tools with long handles, such as the scuffle or hula hoe, a Dutch hoe needs to be sharp to serve its purpose. While a scuffle hoe aims to uproot weeds, a Dutch hoe typically cuts the weeds’ roots.
How Sharp Should a Dutch Hoe Be?
I personally recommend keeping your Dutch hoe sharpened between 25° and 30°. This is the optimum range that works best for the kind of soil and weeds that grow in my garden. But of course, it can be different for every gardener.
To give you an idea, an excellent kitchen knife typically has a double bevel with a total angle of 30-34°, with each side having an angle of 15-17°.
The angle on both sides of the blade gives the knife a sharp V-shaped edge that allows it to slice through meat or vegetables. The V shape of a knife’s edge also provides the knife some resistance as the sliced object splits and slides evenly toward both sides.
On the other hand, gardening tools like hoes typically have a single bevel, with one side of the blade flat and the other angled. If the angle is too low, the blade will be too sharp with a thin body, making the edge prone to rolling over or breaking when it hits rocks.
Remember that Dutch hoes have to tackle weeds and soil particles, so having a narrow angle and a thin body won’t work well in your garden soil.
When choosing the ideal sharpness for your Dutch hoe, you must also consider a few factors. Here are some of them:
The Type of Soil in Your Garden
After years of using several sacrificial weeding hoes due to a poor understanding of their blade’s maintenance needs, I have finally discovered the appropriate angle for sharpening my tools.
The key was understanding the quality of the soil in my garden. It was rather tricky, though, because I have loamy soil in most of my garden and sandy soil in another area for sand-loving plants that thrive in partial shade, such as my Black-Eyed Susans.
I found that a weeding hoe with a lower angle (approximately 20-25°) is suitable for damp loamy soil. Conversely, a higher angle of around 30° works best in sandy soil.
Pro tip: I make it a point to clear my garden soil of rocks and stones as much as possible.
Of course, I don’t have two Dutch hoes. But I do have a scuffle hoe that I use for the area with loamy soil. I use the Dutch hoe mainly for the sandy soil.
However, I use both hoes in any part of my garden when I ask for help weeding during the growing season. As such, I keep the angle of both tools well between 25° and 30°.
It also helps to learn some tricks when using your Dutch hoe, as discussed in my other article: How to Use a Dutch Hoe for Weeds (Tips and Tricks)
People who manage to grow plants in clay soil may find it a bit more challenging to find the optimum sharpness for their gardening hoes. Clay holds more moisture, making it difficult to cultivate and sweep weeds smoothly, approximately an inch (2.5 cm) below the surface.
The Manufacturer’s Design
Various gardening tool manufacturers have different standards for the materials and sharpness of their tools. It will be much easier to sharpen your Dutch hoe based on the pre-designed angle set by the manufacturer.
If you know the soil type in your area, you can select a Dutch hoe from a company that produces one at your desired angle.
How To Sharpen a Dutch Hoe
Using a Dutch hoe with a nice sharp edge will make weeding so much easier and faster. The good thing about Dutch hoes is that you don’t have to sharpen them every time you use them. At least once during the weeding season should suffice, as long as you do it correctly.
Ideally, you should sharpen the Dutch hoe’s blade every summer or winter, shortly before the growing season. You don’t know what kind of weeds will grow in your garden, but it helps to be prepared.
A Dutch hoe’s blade is not too wide, so you can use a double-sided metal file. Choose a metal file with a coarse and a fine side. The coarse side will do most of the rough filing, while the finer side is ideal for finishing touches.
Here is a video showing how to use a metal file to sharpen your garden hoes. It also shows how to use a bench grinder in case you plan on using one. Watch it below:
Proper Maintenance of a Dutch Hoe’s Blade
A Dutch hoe has a relatively small, flat blade that is easy to clean and maintain. There are only a few things you need to keep in mind when maintaining a Dutch hoe. Let’s discuss them below:
A Dutch hoe’s blade is flat and smooth, so it doesn’t accumulate much dirt on its surface. You can clean by following the steps below:
- Wash the blade with running water and a brush.
- Remove as much dirt as you can.
- Scrub the blade with an antibacterial liquid detergent.
- Rinse it with fresh water.
- Dry the blade with a dry, clean cloth.
- Spray the surface of the blade with isopropyl alcohol. Alcohol evaporates quickly, so you only have to air-dry your Dutch hoe.
You can use various homemade materials to lubricate your garden tools. You don’t need to purchase expensive ones. For instance, you can use a vegetable oil spray on your Dutch hoe’s blade.
The good thing is that the Dutch hoe’s blade is fixed, so there’s no need to worry about the oil affecting your tool’s movement. In contrast, you should be careful about using vegetable oil on other gardening tools with oscillating blades as the residues might hinder their movements.
Alternatively, you can buy a lubricant like the WD-40 Multi-Use Product (available on Amazon.com). The product works well on both movable and immovable metal parts, making it suitable for any of your gardening tools. It’s also waterproof and protects your tools from rust.
To learn more about WD-40 products, you can read my other article: Can You Safely Use WD-40 On Your Garden Tools?
The challenging part about storing the Dutch hoe is probably its long handle. It can easily range from 4 to 6 feet (1.2 – 1.8 m). I have a 54-inch (137-cm) Dutch hoe that fits perfectly in my broom box.
You can store the Dutch hoe anywhere that’s convenient for you as long as you pay attention to the following essential information:
- The Dutch hoe’s blade is sharp enough to cut human skin, so you may want to store the tool in a safe place not frequented by your family members or pets.
- Keep the tool away from extreme heat because it can damage the metal parts.
- Similarly, ensure that the Dutch hoe is protected from rain or moisture.
All Dutch hoes need to be sharp, but their degree of sharpness can vary depending on the type of soil you will use them on or the manufacturer’s specifications. Choose a product that provides the best angle that suits the soil type you have in your garden.
To maintain your Dutch hoe’s nice sharp edge, sharpen it at least once before the growing season. Clean and lubricate the tool properly before storage to keep it useful for many more years.