A couple of tools

Do you keep on using old tools that you've had for years, even though you may have newer ones that were supposed to be "better"? I have that situation with my main trowel -- I use a no-name one that I probably bought at a big box store 15 years or more ago. It's got a better shape than the newer branded trowel that I received as a gift several years back, so I just keep using the old one.

I've recently discovered that I had a couple of new tools in the basement that wouldn't replace anything that I currently use, so I thought I'd give them a try and let you know what I think of them.


Both of these were received as gifts so I didn't know how much they cost, but I just found them both online and they're in the $10-$12 range -- so quite inexpensive as tools go.

I'll look at the Corona ComforGEL Scoop first.

I received this last summer at the Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland, and it stayed indoors until this year because I thought "I don't have much need for a scoop".  I'll tell you how I was wrong about that in a minute, but let's look at the features of this tool:

The handle is extremely comfortable and graspable. The "trigger" seemed unnecessary at first, but might actually help with leverage and maybe protects your fingers?

The only questionable part of this tool is the joint between the handle and the scoop. Will this spot weld be strong enough?

Why would strength be a concern? Because where this scoop really shines for me is in digging planting holes in the soil. The thin edge of the stainless steel scoop...

...really cuts into my clay soil easily (although I've only used it in damp soil so far), and it removes so much more soil than my trowel does. Really a joy to use -- but is it designed for digging in the ground? That's how I'll be using it so I'll let you know how it holds up over time.

(It's a pretty tool too, sort of the gazing ball of hand tools)

Moving on to tool number two, an Ames Planters Pal Multi-Purpose Garden Tool:

This thing scares me a bit. First, it's way too shiny, clearly chrome plated instead of stainless steel or some other rust-resistant metal. That's not automatically a bad thing, but what happens when I want to sharpen it?

Sharpen I will, because it has one knife edge, and one serrated.

The serrated edge seems strange, like it might not cut as nicely as you might think. Honestly I don't know what I'll use that edge for. Tree roots? I usually chop those rather than saw as I would have to do with this edge.

I think this side makes the tool more dangerous to use, and I may just end up grinding it down to another straight knife edge.

My saw blades don't look like this. I think this will hurt me someday.

The weed puller notch might be handy for tap rooted plants, but I've only really used this tool so far to dig out seedlings and to dig a couple of small planting holes so I can't really comment on it yet.

The end of the handle is blunted so this can be used to hammer in stakes or pegs if I remember correctly...

...but how much hammering do I want to do with a tool that contains a long, jagged edge?

Those oval depressions along the entire length of the tool are not just decorative:

They are spaced 1" apart, making this a tool that can be used for rough measurements -- why not use lines instead of ovals to make their purpose more evident?

I've always wanted to try a soil knife (hori hori) and this might be a good introduction to that type of tool. I expect I'll step up to a higher-quality model at some point if I like using this.

I'll keep using both of these tools and let you know later this summer if my thoughts on them have changed.

If you have any hand tools that you really love, I would like to hear about them in the comments!


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outlawgardener  – (May 22, 2015 at 11:19 AM)  

I really love the Corona scoop that I've received a few times in swag bags. There are two sizes and I think the scoop is meant for scooping potting soil into pots. It's been wonderful as I previously just used another pot to scoop out soil but there was always a lot of spillage - same when using a hand trowel because the sides aren't high enough. With the larger scoop, I can fill a gallon pot with a couple of scoops into the potting soil bag. Because the sides of the scoop are high, it holds a lot and the tapered front end of the tool directs the soil well. Makes it really easy to fill in around plants when transplanting too. the other tool that has changed my life is an all metal one piece shovel. I don't remember who makes them but there is a nice shelf at the top of the shovel for standing upon. This is heavier than a wood or fiberglass handled tool and the weight helps with digging. Although the yellow fiberglass handled shovels say they'll last a lifetime, I've gone through two of them. I use shovels improperly (bamboo roots and runners, stepping on the handle to get things out of the ground, etc. so this all metal model is ideal for my abusive use. I think it came from a box store and is was more expensive than the other options but it has sure been worth it!

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (May 22, 2015 at 11:36 AM)  

I love that Corona scoop, too. It's gotten a lot of use since the Portland fling.

I also use this Corona snip a lot: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007GYMOKM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Mark and Gaz  – (May 22, 2015 at 12:07 PM)  

Just like Gerhard we love that Corona scoop! Does the job great and so ergonomic too!

Goneferalinidaho  – (May 22, 2015 at 4:01 PM)  

That knife edge might work well on buried weed barrier. I have a ton of it around my garden and I cut holes for plants with a serrated knife.

Anonymous –   – (May 22, 2015 at 11:57 PM)  

That Ames tool will be indispensible at the perfect time. To be honest, and this is nothing novel, I use such an edge on my Oxo trowel, to either break open bags of store-bought garden soil, or when I split perennials, whenever it is I feel compelled to either transplant or share them with friends. The serrated edge works great for me when cutting into the roots of the perennials.

Great post. That Ames tool might show up in my garage, too. Thank you!

danger garden  – (May 23, 2015 at 12:16 AM)  

As one who has a lot of things growing in containers I use the scoop (I have received a few via swag) for repotting, both with soil and gravel, love it! The other tool looks interesting and reminds me of my trowel, which has sharp teeth on one side, I find them ver useful. Probably my most indespensible tool thought is an old steak knife, sharper than a Hori Hori and able to get into tiny spaces. Oh and my long tweezers!

Heather  – (May 23, 2015 at 9:43 AM)  

One of my most-used tools is an old bread knife. I use it to square off root-bound plants, open bags, etc. I love that scoop too.

Alan  – (May 25, 2015 at 7:43 AM)  

Lots of great comments -- thanks!

Do any of you scoop users dig in the soil with it?

Peter: the big scoop sounds useful, although probably not essential for me. I do tend to use tools that are too small for many jobs (hey, it only took 15 trowelfuls to fill that container this time!). Also, I've eyed one of those all-metal spades for a few years, and as soon as my current one gives out I'll buy one. I know they're great for chopping and prying, especially for bamboo.

Loree and Heather: I like the idea a lot, and have several old kitchen knives of various types that have been sitting idle for a few years. Another tool that might work really well: a jab saw (used for cutting holes in drywall). Sturdy with a nicer handle than most knives.

Jeanne: I only have one area of the garden that contains landscape fabric, and it's old enough that my square spade can usually chop through it. I'll keep this in mind though, as it may be easier.

Gerhard, Mark/Gaz: that scoop's handle is probably the most comfortable I've felt on any tool.

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