Warmer weather brings fun—and work. In order to get the most use out of your outdoor gear, follow these easy steps to keep your lawn mower and garden tools working at peak performance.
Lawn mower—To tune up a 4-cycle lawn mower, start the engine to warm up the oil and then turn it off. Pull the wire off the spark plug to prevent it from starting accidentally. Use an adjustable wrench to remove the oil plug on the mower’s underside and drain the oil into a funnel and plastic gallon container or use a disposable drip pan. Replace the drain plug when you’re finished.
Next, turn the mower on its side, scrape off dried dirt or matted grass, and remove the blade by loosening the bolt that holds it to the crankshaft. Clamp the blade in a vise and sharpen the cutting edges with a metal file. Re-install the blade, turn the mower right side up, and fill the engine’s crankcase with fresh oil.
Finally, remove the spark plug with an adjustable wrench and buy a replacement. Carefully screw the new plug into the cylinder head by hand, then tighten it with a wrench. Clean or replace the air filter, fill the gas tank with fresh fuel, and it’s ready to roll.
Garden tools—Give all your garden tools a once-over inspection and remove any dirt and mud. Use a wire brush to remove any rust from metal parts and coat with a lubricant such as WD-40. Tighten or replace any loose screws, nuts or bolts.
Handheld pruning tools need oiling and sharpening. Apply lubricant to the pivot point of the tool and sharpen the blades with a fine metal file. Sharpen the edge of shovels the same way. Wooden tool handles can be reconditioned by going over them with fine sandpaper and then rubbing them down with a wipe-on oil finish.
Remember, taking the time to make sure your gear is in good shape can make your outdoor work easier and extend the life of your equipment.