How To Sharpen a Scuffle Hoe: DIY Guide

Garden tools are essential to a gardener’s life because they make chores so much easier and more manageable. However, they also require adequate care to continue providing such convenience. For instance, you need to conduct routine inspections and maintenance, such as sharpening the blades of your garden hoes.

You can sharpen a scuffle hoe DIY-style by following these steps:

  1. Wear protective gear.
  2. Detach the scuffle hoe’s blade from the handle.
  3. Remove the rust from the scuffle hoe’s blade.
  4. Use a metal file to sharpen the scuffle hoe.
  5. Lubricate the scuffle hoe.

If you don’t have a bench grinder or other expensive tools, there’s no need to worry. Sharpening your scuffle hoe by yourself can be easier than you imagined, especially once you get the hang of it. Read on to learn how to properly do so!

1. Wear Protective Gear

The most important thing on this list is wearing protective gear. 

Although an average scuffle hoe doesn’t have to be as sharp as your standard kitchen knife, it can still be sharp enough to cut your skin, especially since you’ll be exerting force into whatever tool you’re using. Accidents do happen, so you must be careful when handling sharp objects.

On the bright side, there aren’t many things you need to protect yourself with when sharpening your scuffle hoe by yourself. All you need is to wear a pair of nice-fitting working gloves that can prevent injury in case your hands slip, or you lose control of the tools.

Unlike a bench grinder that spins at high speed to sharpen blades, handy tools like metal files don’t produce sparks. They also don’t generate high heat, making them much safer and more convenient for first-timers.

Moreover, handy tools for DIY scuffle hoe blade maintenance are not as noisy as bench grinders or handheld grinders. That said, you wouldn’t need eye or ear protection.

On the other hand, some people with sensitivity to dust or fine particles may need to wear a face mask. Sharpening a blade naturally releases fine metal dust that can cause irritation in the nasal passages or the lungs.

Most scuffle hoe blades are made of carbon steel or stainless steel. These materials are typically coated or reinforced with chromium. Although it can take extended exposure before severe health issues occur, you might as well be careful.

2. Detach the Scuffle Hoe’s Blade From the Handle

Most scuffle hoes have oscillating blades bolted or screwed on the handle. To make it easier and safer to sharpen the blade, unscrew the blades. Be sure to place the bolts or screws in a secure location to avoid misplacing them.

It’s also okay to leave the blade attached to the handle when sharpening it. Just ensure that you can keep it steady as you perform the other steps below.

3. Remove the Rust From the Scuffle Hoe’s Blade

Although machines and other tools can remove rust more quickly, they are not common in every household–unless you have a knack for collecting such devices. Otherwise, you can use a few alternatives.

Sandpaper is relatively easy to find and significantly cheaper, and you can purchase sandpaper from any hardware store. It might take longer to remove all the rust from your scuffle hoe using sandpaper, but it is something anyone can use. This method is suitable for small amounts of rust.

Rubbing can generate heat because of friction and release fine particles into the air. So let me just stress again the importance of wearing a pair of working gloves and a face mask when removing rust from your tool.

For excessive rust on neglected scuffle hoes, you may soak the blade in vinegar for 30 minutes to one hour. You can then remove the remaining rust using steel wool.

Most homes have steel wool lying around in the kitchen or the garage, making it a wise DIY tool for removing rust from your scuffle hoe. However, typical steel wool may be too abrasive for the blade of your scuffle hoe, so it helps to choose a product with a finer grit.

The Homax Steel Wool (available on is an excellent choice because it comes with three grades of grit: coarse, medium, and fine. It is also multi-purpose, so you can use it for many other items at home, such as wooden furniture and cars.

Sometimes, steel wool, when used correctly, is enough to sharpen your scuffle hoe. However, the result might not be as fine and even as when using a metal file.

4. Use a Metal File to Sharpen the Scuffle Hoe

Most gardeners with numerous garden tools keep at least one type of metal file to maintain sharp tools. If you have a few sharp tools in your gardening arsenal as I do, it’d be wise to invest in a metal file. You’ll be surprised about the number of tools you can sharpen by yourself using one metal file.

You can choose from the common types below:

  • A bastard file has the coarsest grit making it suitable for thicker blades with higher angles, such as a shovel or spade.
  • A mill file is typically as coarse as a bastard file, but you can find other products with a finer grit.
  • A farmer file has a flat handle and two functional surfaces. One side typically has a coarse grit file, while the other has a finer grit for finishing touches.

I personally prefer using the farmer file on my garden hoes because of the coarse and fine sides. I like to keep my scuffle hoe’s blade between 25° and 30°, and a farmer’s file works well for this purpose.

When using a file to sharpen your scuffle hoe, you must keep the following things in mind:

Keep the Blade Steady

As mentioned, many scuffle hoes have oscillating blades. If you detach the blade before sharpening it, you can secure it by clamping it against a table or a workbench to prevent it from moving.

Keeping the blade steady while still attached to the handle can be quite challenging. The good thing is that the scuffle hoe’s blade isn’t usually too long or wide. It can be 3-6 inches (7.5-15 cm) long and 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) wide.

You can hold the blade with one hand while sharpening it with the other. Just be careful that it doesn’t slip.

On the other hand, if the blade is securely fastened to the handle and doesn’t move, you can lay the tool on a flat surface with the blade facing up. Secure the handle with your foot or leg as you sharpen the blade.

Sharpen the Blade in a Single Direction

Rub against the blade in only one direction and avoid going back and forth. If the edge of the blade faces away from you, sharpen it with the file in an outward direction. Follow the bevel of the blade.

The direction should be from the blade’s body to the edge. Repeat the motion, rubbing outward along the length of the blade.

A scuffle hoe has a double-edged blade, so you will need to adjust your position or the blade to sharpen the other edge. Always sharpen the beveled side of the blade.

Remove the Burrs

After sharpening the blade to your desired angle, you will feel some burr on the other side of the blade. You can remove them with the steel wool or the fine side of the farmer file. You can run the file once or twice along the length of the flat side of the blade.

5. Lubricate the Scuffle Hoe

After removing the burrs, you must lubricate the blade with a vegetable oil spray or any organic lubricant. You will use the scuffle hoe on your garden soil, so you might as well avoid using products that contain chemicals or substances that can harm your garden.

If you don’t have a vegetable oil spray for gardening tools, a DIY solution is to use canola oil or olive oil. Most households have either of these two widely used types of oil. You can pour some oil on a clean piece of cloth and wipe it on the blade until it’s fully coated.

The oil will prevent rust from building up on your scuffle hoe and prevent soil from clinging to the blades.

Final Thoughts

Dull scuffle hoe blades don’t need a pricey fix. You can polish and sharpen them using tools you already have at home. 

However, the metal file is one thing many new gardeners don’t realize is necessary. So invest in a good-quality metal file. You will soon realize that sharpening the scuffle hoe and other gardening tools is something you can do yourself.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

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