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A Second Life For Old Tools

Posted by Rachel Wendling at May 16, 2017 02:35 PM |
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WTA staffer finds more than good bargains on gear in thrift stores. She finds high-quality trail tools to rehab and give a new life.

As a backpacker, trail runner and Eastern Washington crew leader for WTA, Holly Weiler spends a lot of time on trails. She needs quality tools and gear for all that time outside, but she doesn't want to spend a fortune. So she's spent years perfecting her bargain-hunting skills

My first foray into collecting trail-work tools came when I stumbled upon a Simmonds one-person crosscut saw in my favorite thrift store. It was a mere $25 and was in perfect condition and ready to be put to use.

Tools can live a lot longer than you think with a little TLC. Photos by Jim Scrafford.

Since that time I have picked up other tools, including additional crosscut saws, Pulaskis, grub hoes and pick mattocks, from a combination of thrift stores, consignment malls and antique shops.

Tools may need a lot of work to be ready for use, but I find nothing so satisfying as finding a rusty tool, refurbishing it and then putting it to good use on trail. Finding used trail tools has an added bonus: As most trail workers know, antique steel is superior to what you’ll find new.

I’ve spent significant time with WTA tool-care pros and on Google searches learning how to put my sometimes rusty treasures back to work. I have learned that a little rust isn’t fatal but deep pitting can be. I avoid crosscut saws with broken teeth, and I avoid grubbing tools with bent metal. Wooden handles may need to be replaced, but sometimes all they need is a fresh coat of linseed oil. After a little extra care, these tools can be ready to join a work party, or they may find themselves put to good use in my garden.

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This article originally appeared in the May+June 2017 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.