Make your tools last longer
How to maintain metal tools
Store all your tools in a dry place.
To prevent tools with working parts (e.g. shifting spanners, tape measure, pliers) from seizing up or jamming if left unused for a period, spray with penetrating oil. Make sure they stay dry. Regular use will keep the parts working. You might need to rub them with a paper towel when you reuse them so that the oil doesn’t stain your work.
Filling knives and scrapers work better when shiny. Scrape the dry filler off with a chisel or cutting knife. Clean with penetrating oil and steel wool or polish with fine sandpaper, 600 to 1000 grit.
For a rusty handsaw, polish it with penetrating oil and steel wool. Wipe dry and soap the blade to make it slip through the wood.
Keep the face of your hammer square and clean so that it doesn’t slip off the nail. Rub on concrete or rough sandpaper to keep it smooth.
Maintain painting tools
It is always best to wash your brush or roller as soon as you have finished with it.
However, when a friend pops in for a chat or you’re hanging out for morning tea, you can keep your brush or roller fresh for a little while until you pick it up again. Wrap it in plastic cling film or a plastic bag and store it in the shade. This will exclude the air and, for a short time, prevent it drying out.
If you have been using water-based paints, work the brush in a bucket of water to dislodge the thicker paint in the centre of the bristles. Then run the bristles under a tap until the water runs clean. If you intend to use the brush again the next day, put a wire through the handle and hang it in water inside a bucket. If you have finished your paint job, wash the brush finally in warm soapy water. If it doesn’t come absolutely clean, soak it overnight in a solution of water, detergent and cloudy ammonia and wash it again the next day.
To clean a roller, roll it backwards and forwards in your paint tray filled with water. Change the water frequently or pour running water into the tray from a tap or hose. Continue until the tray water is clean. Do a final wash with soap.
If you’re using oil-based paint or shellac, check the tin for the appropriate cleaning solvent. Pour the solvent into a spare pot or your paint tray and work the brush or roller until the paint is soft and thin. Wash them next in a solution of warm water and soap. Washing machine powder works well for synthetic bristles. Shampoo is best for natural bristles, as it tends to replenish the natural oil in the bristles as it works. If the tool remains sticky, repeat the process.
Don’t leave a paintbrush standing on its bristles in a pot of water or solvent. The bristles will become misshapen and impossible to use. Find a way of suspending it in the solvent or water — either by passing a wire through the handle of the brush and resting it on the lip of the pot or by using a brush holder, which suspends the brush from the side of the pot. (You should be able to buy a brush holder from your paint merchant.) The solvent or water should completely cover the bristles.
The joy of a good quality synthetic brush is that, if it has become misshapen, you can run it under hot water to restore its shape.
It might seem unlikely, but it is possible to store a paint-filled roller in a freezer overnight if it is wrapped in plastic. The cold prevents the paint in the roller drying out. But many paints contain toxic chemicals, and not many people have an old spare freezer for the odd paint job!
Paint that has dried into a brush can be removed by soaking it in paintbrush restorer. Stroke the bristles with an old nail brush, working away from the handle.
Store clean natural-bristle brushes in brown paper or a heavy paper towel to keep the bristles in shape.