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If you have a damaged old croc, do not throw it away! This tool made of quality steel can be repaired at low cost. He does well in the garden.

Text and Photos C. Petitjean

Practical advice

Choose a rectilinear handle in a wood with straight wire, available in DIY store, garden center or at a specialist in agricultural equipment (Green Dot...). It costs about 5 E. Avoid sleeves at the edge of the sapwood and bark: they are too fragile.
To feed the wood and protect it from the weather, periodically renew the application of linseed oil and turpentine. In winter, put the tool away.

The garden croc is a sort of fork that has four triangular teeth bent almost at right angles. This tool makes it possible to refine the earth, to break the clumps, to eliminate the roots and to clear the stones. It is also used to unload plants from a trailer or to extract potatoes (for this purpose, there is however a hook with two flat teeth that do not damage the tubers).
● Even in poor condition, an old fang deserves to be renovated: made of steel of excellent quality, it will be more effective than a new tool bought at first price, heavy and with fragile teeth. Note that a hook must be cleaned and oiled after each use.

The fork

For a long time fouled with earth, the fork presents here a strong corrosion. The teeth are roughly scoured with a wire brush (handle carefully to avoid injury). But it is better to use a rotating brush mounted on a drill. During this operation, the fork neck must be tightened in the jaws of a vice. You can also prick the tips of your teeth in a piece of wood to ensure their maintenance.
● To remove all traces of corrosion, the most radical solution is to sandblast (strip) the workpiece using a pneumatic gun (which sprays a fine sand jet).

The handle

You can make a handle with an ash cleat (if possible) or beech sawn to the right size. The ridges are removed on the plane and then on the rasp by grinding one of the ends so that it becomes conical and it can slip into the neck of the fork; the other end is rounded.

● The purchase of a new handle simplifies the work (dimensions: L. 1,50 m approximately, Ø 40 mm). But the conical part to fit in the neck of the fork often needs to be adjusted to the rasp. For a tight fit, then just hit the bottom of the handle on the floor or against a wall. And complete the tightening with a screw (in the neck).

Finishes

To restore the appearance of the new metal fork, two coats of antirust paint (red agricultural color) are applied with a brush (Corona, Dulux Valentine...).
● Sanded with 80 grit sandpaper then 150, the wooden handle is protected with a mixture of equal parts linseed oil and turpentine.

To discard the teeth of the fork

To discard the teeth of the fork

Immobilize the teeth of the fork by planting them in a piece of wood. They are fouled by dirt and rust: attack the metal with a wire brush mounted on drill.

Straighten teeth

Straighten teeth

To straighten the teeth when they are a little twisted, put on each one a tube of iron. Force until they return to their original position.

Correct the handle

Correct the handle

The new handle has a conical portion that rarely corresponds to the diameter of the neck of the fork head. Grind it to the rasp. Test the diameter as you go.

Fit the neck into the collar

Fit the neck into the collar

To finish nesting the neck in the neck, hold them firmly together with one hand. On the other hand, hit the bottom of the handle vigorously on a canvas bag placed on the ground (it avoids damaging the wood).

To stare

To stare

Attach the fork neck to the handle with a screw. Better than a stop nail, it will facilitate a possible replacement of the handle. Provide a pilot hole of Ø 2 mm.

Apply an antirust

Apply an antirust

To protect the metal, apply two coats of antirust lacquer every 24 hours. The traditional colors are blue, green garden and, here, the agricultural red.

Sand the handle

Sand the handle

Carefully sand the handle with 80 grit sandpaper then 150. The comfort of use of the tool depends on the state of its surface: soft and pleasant to the touch.

Protect

Protect

To protect the wooden handle, brush with a mixture of equal parts linseed oil and turpentine. Let penetrate. Wipe the excess with a cloth.


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