These are the questions that we get asked the most. If you have a question that is not in the list below please contact us via the details at the base of this page.
Q: I thought copper was a soft metal. Does it stand up to normal garden use?
Q: How do you sharpen the tools?
Q: Won’t the bronze go green over time?
Q: How long do the tools last?
Q: Do the handles need any special care?
Q: Does bronze deter earthworms?
Q: Can using the bronze tools reduce slug damage?
Q: My Hydra hoe shaft (or Castor Trowel handle) doesn’t have a PKS label on it. Why not?
Q: The shafts on the large tools are too long for me!
A: In its pure form, copper would be too soft a metal for most garden tools. However, our tools are made of a range of copper alloys. The blades of all the tools are solid bronze, containing over 90% copper; the remaining part is tin. Bronze is more hardwearing and keeps its sharp edge better than pure copper. It is still not as hard as steel, but as it is sharper and smoother than steel, we find that there is less resistance from the soil when we work with these tools.
A: There are two ways; either file the blade with a fine metal file or put the blade on a piece of wood and hammer it. If you use a file, run it slowly at an angle to the blade, at about a quarter of the speed with which you would sharpen a steel blade. However hammering is a skilled job, as you can see from this video…
A: No. The green is verdigris, which is formed when bronze comes into contact with acid. Copper roofs have verdigris because rainwater with its absorbed carbon dioxide is naturally slightly acidic. Groundwater is not naturally acidic. Even acid soil is not acidic enough to cause verdigris. Our tools acquire a slight brown patina over time that can be cleaned off with a metal polish if you want to restore the original shine.
Our old trowel, showing the brown patina near the handle
A: These are long lasting tools which should out last most of us. However if for some reason you are unhappy with your tool we offer a no quibble 25-year guarantee. We will refund or replace any unused tool. We will also repair or replace any faulty tool. Of course this excludes normal wear and tear. The handles and shafts are guaranteed for two years, and we also supply replacements.(This applies to the UK only)
A: The handles of the small tools have been treated with a single coating of oil. The larger tools have bare wood shafts. It is good practice to oil the handles yourself from time to time and store the tools out of the rain and direct sunlight. Do not wash the handles, as the water will cause the wood to shrink as it dries. We give a free bottle of teak oil with each order of two or more large tools (UK only).
A: Earthworms are annelids, a different family from slugs and snails (molluscs). Annelids have haemoglobin just as we and other mammals do, whereas molluscs such as slugs and snails have haemocyanin, based on copper.
The use of iron or bronze tools should have no effect on the earthworm population. Certainly they are there as much as ever in our garden, and we have used exclusively bronze tools for several years now.
A: That is our experience from our own garden, and the experience of many users of the tools. More about this on the Slugs and Snails page of this site.
A: Some tool handles come with labels and some don’t. With or without a sticky label, your Hydra Hoe shaft is made of European lime wood and your Castor Trowel handle is of European beech. The tool heads have the PKS logo stamped into the bronze.
A: Short tool shafts seem to be a British speciality. You rarely see them elsewhere. A longer tool shaft allows the gardener to have a more upright posture, which is easier on the back. We Brits are used to creaking backs after bending over a spade or fork, but backache does not have to go with gardening, in our view. The hoes, rake and other pulling tools are light enough to use with arms extended, and the long shaft allows greater reach. More about the peculiar British tradition of garden tool design in our booklet, the Story of Copper Garden Tools.