readers write in

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to bring you yet another post. You may remember me from such posts as “Stuff And Nonsense”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.
(I’m in the doorway.)
You can see how overcast, dry, and gloomy everything is. The guy I live with, besides complaining about how overcast, dry, and gloomy everything is, has been rethinking the idea of having so many native grasses in the back yard. I’m not sure how this will pan out, as they say. (The guy I live with said that was an old gold miner’s phrase; we live in a state where a lot of gold mining was done, and still is.)

Okay, so, anyway, you may find this a dumb and repetitive post, but considering the volume of mail we get asking about this and that (“Strangely”, the guy I live with said, “never about Opera Day”) I thought I would answer some questions about tools.

The guy I live with isn’t much into power tools. He has an Echo gas-operated trimmer, and an Ego battery-operated leaf blower, which he uses all the time, to blow fallen leaves off the raised beds and into the borders. It doesn’t make very much noise, but I still bark when it’s running.
The guy I live with really likes Ego tools, no nonsense about having to get gas all the time, and is thinking about getting one of their snow-throwers.

“But what about trimming the edges of the raised beds?”
The guy I live with uses these, which I think were made by Burgon & Ball.
He’s used sheep shears since, like, forever. His grandfather had some in the shed in his garden in Los Angeles. They make a very pleasant whisking sound. (He stuck the shears into the ground while using them and didn’t clean them off afterward.)

“Besides the grass sickle, what does he uses for cutting things down?”
These; they’re Japanese, and very high quality. Also, probably carbon steel, which takes an edge better than stainless steel. They came from Hida Tool.

“Do these get oiled?”
Yes, with camellia oil.

“What about loppers?”
These are Bahco, from France, for vineyards; the guy I live with’s wife bought these after doing a lot of research. They’ve been used a lot, and I mean a lot, since they were purchased.

“What about a favorite weeder?”
Any kind of nejiri kama, Japanese weeder.
The guy I live with’s wife used one of these, all the time. She loved weeding.
There are of course other weeders in the tool shed.

“What about a favorite trowel?”
This one, from Sweden. It was given to him by a friend who lived in Sweden. The guy I live with hasn’t heard from him in a while, but after his wife died so suddenly, a lot of people were uncomfortable talking to him, which he understands, but this is a pleasant memory of days gone by, and a wonderful trowel.

“What about garden twine?”
Japanese garden twine.
Also Nutscene, from England, which is hard to find in this country now. If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time (and believe it or not, some people have) you’ll remember when Earl, the squirrel, stole the whole can of Nutscene for his nest.

“Since we’re talking about twine, what about knives?”
Opinel, from France. Pruning knife above, garden knife below.
The guy I live with’s wife had a smaller one, which she kept super sharp.

“Talking about sharpening, how does he sharpening pruners?”
With this, Pruna Mate from England, available from Garden Talk. This has lasted a very long time.
Really easy to use, and easy to get the blade sharpened quickly.

“The guy you live with uses Felcos?”
Well, yes, but there are also these. Tobisho, hand made. A next level up from everything else.
The guy I live with likes to talk to visitors about pruners, and then he hands them these, and has them cut something, and watches their expression.

“What about a favorite shovel?”
This, from Bulldog Tools in England.

“Are there any tools the guy you with live has purchased and then never used?”
Yes. This poacher’s spade, from Bulldog Tools. The guy I live with’s wife always wanted one, so one day, after she died, he bought one, and has never used it.

And that’s what I have for today. There are a lot of other tools in the shed, but these are some of his favorites.
I hope you found this at least a tiny bit interesting. You can see how much I did.

Until next time, then.

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32 Responses to readers write in

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Oh, I thought you misspelled Ego. I looked it up to see that it is real. I still have, although no longer use, my old Corona shears, which are named for the town they were made in, not the Toyota or the . . . other thing. I should enjoy old tools more when I work in my own garden. I sort of miss using them. Some are a few generations old, but not as fancy as those of the guy you live with.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with used to have a bunch of old gardening tools that belonged to his grandfather, and maybe from other family members of that generation, but he gave them to his sister some years ago, because she thought they would be nice to have.
      His grandfather’s older brother was a master carpenter and the guy I live with gave his brother-in-law, who was in construction, all the old Stanley planes, etc.

  2. Paddy Tobin says:

    Of all the tools you have shown it is the Pruna Mate which caught my attention. A quick online search has shown that it is an American product and I haven’t seen it listed for sale at this side of the Atlantic. I use Felco secateurs and dismantle to clean and sharpen, using a whetstone for that. The Japanese carbon steel pruners can be of excellent quality. I bought a pair for Mary earlier in the year, ones with very slender and long blades which are intended for dead-heading dahlias, roses etc etc. They are very sharp and work perfectly for that job. I got a battery-powered blower and strimmer last year – the one battery suits both – and find them so very convenient, light, easy to use and powerful with a running time long enough for most jobs I wish to do. They are both Husqvarna made.

    • paridevita says:

      That’s funny (not ha-ha, but strange). The guy I live with looked at the Garden Talk website, and it says “Pruna Mate”, but his sharpeners say “Insta Sharp Made in the U.K.”
      Maybe it’s like back in the days of LPs, when it was Decca records in the U.K. and Europe, and London here, or His Master’s Voice in the U.K. and Europe, and Angel Records or RCA Victor here.
      The well whatever it is sharpens the blade in less than a minute or two.
      The guy I live with has been thinking about getting an EGO chainsaw, which he would use a lot more than you’d think.
      There is a gas station within walking distance of here but the guy I live with said he would get looks walking down the street with a gas can, so even though the Echo trimmer is great, having to get gas for it is just annoying.

  3. Those Japanese blades are amazing at getting weeds from between our flagstones. I always am on the hunt for non-power type tools and will hang on to this post for future reference. Happy gardening. At least today has started out sunny and clear. Don’t know about you, but the cloudy conditions have been more than a nuisance since we’re conditioned to seeing bright days, not gloom.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with says sun is nice, but rain would be nicer. They say maybe tonight and tomorrow. We should get rain or snow in spring.
      There’s one gas-operated tool here, the trimmer. It’s a great tool, but he might get an EGO just because of the convenience of not having to go get gas and two-cycle engine oil.

      • Can’t remember the last time Denver had a nice soaking rain. Early 1900’s maybe? 😉 Sunshine is far more welcome than the recent Seattle type gloom but the need for moisture is paramount. I think it’s gonna be a very dry and probably hot summer season.

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with said we had two hailstorms here in 2018. That was unusual, but there was rain. The storms were scary.
        He doesn’t know what’s going on with our weather, but it certainly is nothing like what it was in the last century. I wasn’t here.

  4. More than interesting. Inspirational and educational. All my first tools were from the original Smith and Hawken when there was a Smith and a Hawken in charge. They sold tools from the UK. Wonderful and still using them, including a pair of sheep shears.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. The guy I live with bought a lot of tools from Smith & Hawken, when they were just about the only company you could buy tools from that would last. He got tired of shovels etc. breaking all the time. None of the ones from Smith & Hawken has broken, and he’s had them for over a quarter century.
      Now you can buy quality tools from Sneeboer and DeWit from the Garden Tool Company, and unusual heavy-duty tools from Way Cool Tools.

  5. barbk52 says:

    This is very useful, so thank you. Do you get full credit?
    I am interested in the Japanese hand pruners. My right hand is barely usable and very painful and the handles don’t look coated or padded. Are they comfortable anyway? Right now I am using ARS pruners and they’re good, but could be better. The locking mechanism is loose and so they always are locking without permission.

    • paridevita says:

      You’re welcome. We just do this as a service to our readers.
      The Tobisho pruners are $111.00 from Hida Tool. Just so you know. The guy I live with says they’re totally worth it, since pruning with them is effortless. They make a lovely snipping sound. They just go “snip”. He’s had people try them, and theor response was like they’d never used pruners before.
      He also has a thing for Japanese tools, and Japanese everything, which in itself is a interesting story.
      He has arthritis, especially in his right hand. I can hear the cries of pain, sometimes.

  6. Mee-yow wow so many kewl toolss Mani an Guy!!!
    BellaSita has a hand rake, a trowel an prunerss….wee have such a wee garden wee not need much. Butt wee DUE admire yore toolss Guy!
    As fore Opera Day~~~what iss Guy’ss fave Opera?
    BellaSita’ss PwPaw was furry innto Opera an Symphony music so BellaSita lissened to alot of that mewsick.
    Shee not have a fave Opera butt her faverite composerss are Vivaldi an Rachmaninoff!
    Mee likess lyrical quiet symphony mewsick…..
    Havin guud gardenin toolss an guud mewsick are allwayss impawtent rite Mani?
    An you look lovelee onn yore sofa today….
    ~~~head rubss~~~BellaDharma~~~ an ((hugss)) BellaSita Mum

    • paridevita says:

      The weather here has been awful. Cold, dry, and windy.
      The guy I live with probably has too many garden tools.
      I don’t think the guy I live with has a favorite opera. (Both Vivaldi and Rachmaninov wrote operas, by the way.)
      Yesterday we listened to Rossini’s William Tell, the original French version, and the guy I live with was very moved, I could tell. (As Berlioz said of the opera, “This is poetry, this is beauty, this is art!”)
      Today there was another one on, but we both fell asleep, because the guy I live with hardly slept at all last night.

      • Berlioz iss purrty kewl two Mani an Guy!!! Nothin like solid mewsic to lissen two.
        Did mee efurr meow to you THE story of BellaSita an Her PawPaw inn Record Store back in THE 80’ss? Hee went to Symphony section an shee went to Rock section.
        GranPaw bott Vivaldi an BellaSita bott “Skid Row” debut album. Leed singer Seebastian Bach ISS direst descendant of Mistur Johann S Bach.
        So they went home an lissened to BellaSita’ss album…..
        GranPaw concluded it was purrty furabuluss an that ‘his’ mewsic was THE “Original Rock an Roll” of his time! How’ss THAT fore forewerd thinkin yeah?
        Bye THE way wee gotted snow last nite….iss all gone this mornin?? What THE Cat an Dog iss goin on? 🙂

      • paridevita says:

        That’s interesting.
        No snow here. No rain, no sun, no anything.

  7. ceci says:

    We had a soaking rain yesterday, several inches in the straight sided pots. Supposedly we are behind on average rain fall for the year but I don’t believe it.

    I’m very interested in the blade sharpening gizmo, my usual whetstone has gone missing in the garage (best case scenario) or went home with a visitor.

    Too bad about the insomnia, we’ve been having that here , or 2 of us have. The small dog seems to sleep beautifully.



    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with doesn’t sleep very well, sometimes, and I think it’s because he’s kind of ancient.
      We haven’t had a good soaking rain in ages. No snow except a dusting yesterday morning, and it’s way below freezing at night, with no sun all day, so not very pleasant at all.
      The sharpener, called a “precision pruner sharpener” on the GardenTalk website, lists for $17.50.
      The guy I live with has been ordering from them for a long time; they used to be called Nicke’s. Not so much lately because of the usual supply-chain issues. He really wants a roll of Twist-Ems but they’re out. (Still some on the existing roll, and I suppose there are alternatives, but the guy I live with has used Twist-Ems all his life, even when he was a little kid.)

  8. Elaine says:

    Great and helpful post Mani. Where does one find sheep sheers? I have looked everywhere but can’t seem to find this type. Looks like they would be super handy. My favourite tools are of Japanese origin as well: the short handled ho mi hoe and the hori hori knife. Versatile and can be used for almost any job.

  9. Mewsic spanss gennyrationss an dirryrencess an reelly bringss peepell twogether Mani!
    Am wee have had sum Sunshine butt it iss still furry chilley here…..

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