Collectors pay top dollar for antique handplanes and tools. That speaks volumes about the importance of hand-tool maintenance. When properly kept, a hand tool can perform at the top of its class for generations.

The Basics:
• Begin with a tune-up: New handplanes, chisels, and other hand tools rarely come fully sharpened and tuned. This part is up to you.
• Keep it sharp: One good sharpening and constant upkeep are essential.
• Prevent rust and damage: Proper tool storage is essential to prolong the life of your tools.

Begin with a tune-up
Most new planes don’t come ready to use. More times than not, the sole will have a hollow in its length or width that must be corrected before the tool will work properly, or the plane iron will need sharpening. Chisels, scrapers, and other hand tools usually need a similar tune-up to remove burrs and other metal irregularities that might interfere with performance.

Keep it sharp
Woodworkers who have mastered the ins and outs of sharpening are justly proud of the sharpness of their hand tools. There are a number of sharpening techniques that woodworkers swear by; choose one and use it regularly.

Prevent rust and damage
Once a hand tool is well tuned, it takes effort to keep it that way. Unlike most modern power tools, hand tools will last for generations if they are well cared for. A toolbox or other storage device that is sealed from moisture and the elements is the first line of defense against rust. You might also consider storing hand tools in a product called Ferro-Pak, a brand of paper that is treated with a rust inhibitor. Many hand-tool manufacturers ship products wrapped in this. Aside from rust, great care should be taken to protect hand tools from dents and scratches to keep them working with precision.