Tool Time!

Had to get out and pick up a couple of new toys to tide me over until my latest internet orders arrive. I’v been shopping both online and in stores over the past several weeks. Today has been a great March day for me here in Ohio. A beautiful early spring day with perennials beginning to show, Daffs in bloom with tulips on the the way. An unexpected snow would almost be a pleasant surprise (almost). Tools ordered online, new tools in hand, and thanks to stumbling across an interesting gardener’s blog even more cool tools of interest to try this season including a rubber rake and innovative bow rake. As for the rubber rake? Don’t laugh just yet, I’m awed by this thing and I’ve yet to even handle one.

Today’s purchases are part of a long-term love-hate relationship with the Sears Craftsman line of tools. Sears is a monster and there are tools I simply will not purchase from them. 25 years ago things were a bit simpler when they offered Good, Better, & Best among the hand tools. Best being the obvious choice if you were shopping Craftsman. My last major purchase was around 1992 so we’re talking twenty years since I last bought hand tools at Sears. Add to that the tools purchased that day are still “in play”. I bought their premium yellow fiberglass-handled line at the time: bow rake, steel tine leaf rake, garden/border spade, 4-prong spading fork, & long handled round point shovel. The border spade has been used and abused and has finally cracked all the way from the collar to the D-handle. I used it today and will continue to use it until it fails and earns a spot on the shop wall. I’ve made alot of money with it. The round point shovel will be replaced soon by yet another premium Craftsman. I ran over the old one with a 3/4 ton truck loaded with mulch and cracked the handle. Sawed off about 8″ and replaced the cap, short but still going strong. The spading fork, bow rake, and surprisingly even the leaf rake are all in good working order. As they’re replaced they’ll be my “home tools”. I do enjoy getting every penny’s worth, more than ever these days!

Today’s new toys are two Craftsman premium that both stray a bit from my old ones. Slick marketing or improvements? Perhaps a bit of both. First is a really nice looking border spade, it feels good in the hands. 3″ taller than the old one (41″ vs. 38″). The D-handle is canted slightly forward and it has what they call a “Power Step” feature with large footsteps towards the front of the blade instead of rolled edges to the rear (this is an Ames/True Temper ~ala~Union tool). Entirely different than my old Craftsman and my much beloved  A.M. Leonard all steel nursery spade. Some sort of hybrid with a hint of drain spade incorporated. Unlike it’s predecessor the connection to the fiberglass handle is reinforced with steel instead of wood but that didn’t appear to be a major issue. I like it but I don’t love it (yet). Please bear with me on the picture layout, it’s been years since blogging and I’m skipping the html and trying for clickables…

The second new one for today is a novel new bow rake with a couple of new twists. Marketed as the “Double Play” it’s tines are less straight and slightly hooked (looks more like a rake, less like a comb). The previously bare area above the tines has a unique row of teeth (hence the “double play”). Now after years and years of using these dogs to spread soil, this one looks like someone was really thinking. Roughly 3″ shorter but not very noticeable in hand, perhaps an inch wider on the business end. As with the new spade I’m impressed. I like it but I don’t love it (yet). Not quite as innovative as the Radius G-Series Ground Hog and Garden Shark rakes I plan to try but it does appear to be an improved version of an old standby.

That’s all for now, I’ve got a sod job coming up soon so these new two will get their first workout and I’ll be able to start to form an opinion. The backyard I’m doing has 3 nice walkways that will require the spade to cut in for sod cutter use and plenty of soil will be needed so we’ll see about that “double play” rake. Looking forward to it!

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