Carl's Guide to Stardew Valley

Gameplay Strategy and Farm Management

Stardew Valley: Tools

Uses of Tools and Upgrades for Special Abilities

Stardew Valley Tools Most tools can be upgraded and are much more effective in their improved form. Some even gain special abilities that can be used by holding down the 'use tool' button.

Your farmer starts with 5 tools in Stardew Valley and soon gets a sixth. These are core to your efforts to clean up the farm, gather resources for crafting, make money, and explore the world. The six tools you get can be upgraded by visiting the Blacksmith in town. You can reach him by going to the bottom right corner of the village, crossing the bridge to the east, and heading north past the museum. Each tool upgrade does something different, though they all make the item more effective. In order to upgrade, you must have one of four metals - Copper, Iron, Gold, and Iridium. Because of this and that most people will want the upgraded version of each tool, I'll write on how you can get each of those metals at the bottom of this guide.

Tools in Stardew Valley

All tools start normal quality, bronze is an upgrade from that. Some tools simply become more effective and let you use less energy to get the job done (like the Axe and Pickaxe) while others - namely the Hoe, Fishing Rods, and Watering Can - gain special abilities while also being more effective. The axe and pickaxe can let you access new areas as they're upgraded, by allowing you a way to clear blockages and get to the other side.


Stardew Valley Axe Upgrade Upgrading the axe lets you access the Secret Woods and improves your ability to farm for hardwood by letting you break stronger stumps and logs.

The regular axe can chop down a tree with 15 hits and breaks small logs to let you gather wood, seeds, and sap. Upgrades greatly improve on that, enhancing your character's ability to gather wood. At first, it cannot break the large stumps on the farm property nor logs. Upgrading the Axe gives you much better access to hardwood, which is a useful crafting ingredient.

Tool LevelUpgrade CostSpecial Abilities
Bronze Axe2,000G and 5 Copper barsHits to chop down a tree brought to 12 (a 20% improvement). You can now use the axe to chop the large stumps on the farm in order to get hardwood and clear the area.
Steel Axe5,000G and 5 Iron barsYou can now chop the wood that blocks access to the Secret Woods area, where you can get reliable Hardwood for crafting. A tree now takes only 9 hits and you can break the large logs on the property.
Gold Axe10,000G and 5 Gold barsA tree takes only 6 hits to completely remove.
Iridium Axe25,000G and 5 Iridium barsA tree takes only 3 hits to completely remove.


Stardew Valley Hoe Upgrade Upgrading the Hoe lets you till soil in a line. This can be used for foraging!

The Hoe not only allows you to till soil in order to plant seeds, it also helps you to dig up areas and collect items from doing so. Upgrades to it make preparing a farm much faster, as well as your ability to forage in areas like the Beach.

Tool LevelUpgrade CostSpecial Abilities
Bronze Hoe2,000G and 5 Copper barsCharging the hoe will let you hit 3 tiles in front of you, instead of the one.
Steel Hoe5,000G and 5 Iron barsCharging the hoe's special ability hits a total of 5 tiles in front of your character.
Gold Hoe10,000G and 5 Gold barsThe special power now has an area of effect, hitting 3x3 tiles.
Iridium Hoe25,000G and 5 Iridium barsThe special power extends to 6x3 tiles.


Stardew Valley Pickaxe Upgrade The normal pickaxe can break most ore, but it becomes energy-inefficient the deeper you go into the mines. Better pickaxes also unlock a couple of special areas.

The Pickaxe is used to break open rocks and ore veins. Upgrades to the pickaxe reduce the number of hits need to break a rock, while also letting you break open bigger rocks such as the large 2x2 stones on the farm property.

Tool LevelUpgrade CostSpecial Abilities
Bronze Pickaxe2,000G and 5 Copper barsNoticeably improved mining speed on some rock types, can mine the 2x2 stones in the mines.
Steel Pickaxe5,000G and 5 Iron barsFurther improved efficiency and players can now break the large boulders on the farm property, as well as the rock to the right when inside the mine entrance. Breaking this rock grants access to the Dwarf.
Gold Pickaxe10,000G and 5 Gold barsAllows you to break meteorites that land on the farm. Greatly improved mining efficiency for normal blocks in the mines.
Iridium Pickaxe25,000G and 5 Iridium barsVery fast mining speed for all rocks, including those inside the Skull Cavern.

Watering Can

Stardew Valley Watering Can Upgrade Upgrading the watering can lets you water plants in a line in front of your character. This ability grows better and better the more it is upgraded.

The Watering Can tool lets you ensure your plants continue to grow and is essential to early farming. Even fully grown plants need water if they are going to continue to produce fruits and vegetables. Ensuring they're watered every day requires your farmer to use this, to do it manually, or sprinklers. Sprinklers are very expensive and only work on a small area at first, so you'll be relying on this a lot. Upgrade the watering can either during winter or when it's going to rain the next day for maximum efficiency. Thankfully, upgrades to the watering can increase its effectiveness and let you hit more blocks at once while also holding vastly more water. A normal watering can holds 40 uses of water.

Tool LevelUpgrade CostSpecial Abilities
Bronze Watering Can2,000G and 5 Copper barsNow holds 55 uses worth of water and charging the special ability lets you water 3 tiles in front of you. Planting crops 3 tiles wide is recommended to make best use of this.
Steel Watering Can5,000G and 5 Iron barsNow holds ~120 uses worth of water, and charging it up can hit 5 tiles in a row in front of your character. 5 by X crops are recommended so you can efficiently water them.
Gold Watering Can10,000G and 5 Gold barsNow holds almost 200 units of water. Can water a 3x3 tile area in front of the character. Makes mass-watering much easier, changes optimal layout back to 3 by X.
Iridium Watering Can25,000G and 5 Iridium barsHolds almost 300 units of water. Can water a 6x3 area in front of the character when the special move is charged.

Fishing Pole

Stardew Valley Fishing Pole Upgrade Fishing poles aren't upgraded like others. You buy better ones, and gain the ability to use bait and tackle.

The fishing pole is not upgraded like other tools. Your first fishing pole is given to you, allowing you to catch fish. Later, at levels 2 and 6 you can buy better rods from Willy at the docks shop. These, along with better bait and tackle become available for purchase whenever your character unlocks the ability to craft them. The first pole cannot use bait, the second can use bait but not tackle. Later you can use bait and tackle at the same time, which makes fishing much more efficient.

Tool LevelUpgrade CostSpecial Abilities
Bamboo RodThis is given to you early in the game (check the mail), but replacements can be bought for 500G.The basic fishing pole, which cannot use bait nor tackle. It's just a starter. See How to Fish.
Fiberglass RodBought for 1,800G from Willy when you've reached Fishing Level 2This rod can be used with bait, which increases the rate fish will bite. See how to use bait and tackle.
Iridium RodThe Iridium Fishing Pole is bought for 7,500G from Willy when you reach level 6 and gain the ability to use both bait and tackle on your fishing pole. The effect of that is dependent on which baits and tackles you choose, as there are a variety of effects.


Stardew Valley Scythe Upgrade The Scythe isn't upgradeable, but it does just fine in its normal form. Here my character places hay for animals to eat during winter.

The Scythe lets you clear grass and other plants from the farm. All tools can clear bigger plants, but the scythe has a sweeping animation that hits about 180 degrees in front of your character, so it's much more energy-efficient. Having a Scythe with one or more Silos on the farm will result in hay being collected for your animals to eat when they cannot go outside to graze - most notably during Winter. The Scythe is the only tool that doesn't get upgrades, though it doesn't really need it and is only used situationally.

Upgrading Tools to Copper, Iron, Gold, and Iridium Quality

The axe, pickaxe, water can, and hoe can all be upgraded at the blacksmith, whose shop is located near the bridge at the bottom right of the town. Take the bridge then head north to see his shop. Bring your tool to the Blacksmith (open 9-5), along with several thousand gold and five metal bars. You must go through a series of upgrades, beginning with copper, then iron, gold, and iridium for the four tools that can be upgraded in this way. Each upgrade is more expensive than the last.

Stardew Valley Upgrading Tools at the Blacksmith The Blacksmith will upgrade your tools, but you must bring metal bars and enough gold to cover it.

The Blacksmith will give you the item back in 2 game days. Simply walk up to the counter when it's done, and you'll be given the upgraded version. Because you cannot use tools while they're being upgraded, it's wise to wait until you know you won't need them. This is especially obvious with the watering can. You can wait until it's going to rain the next day, then go in for the upgrade. This will let you pickup the tool on the 2nd day, regardless of if it's rained, and can then water your crops.

Getting Copper, Iron, Gold, and Iridium

Obtaining copper, iron, gold, and iridium is generally done with mining. However, you can buy the first three from the blacksmith. In the case of upgrading a tool, this can be rather expensive. You need 5 ore per bar, and 5 bars - so you need to buy a whopping 25 ore in order to get enough bars for an upgrade. You'd also need 5 coal and have a furnace on your farm so that you can smelt the bars. See Getting Copper, a Furnace, and Coal. The bars can be obtained freely in the mine, but only spawn on certain levels. It's random but ore spawns on the following levels of the mine:

Practice going deeper into the mines, and you'll eventually be able to upgrade all 4 of your tools to Iridium!

Stardew Valley 1.1 Changes

Stardew Valley is now version 1.1, which comes with some significant changes. I have some updating to do as a result. Certain fruits (such as blueberries/cranberries) have had their sell prices reduced significantly to give players more reason to grow other produce. This makes tables with sales values wrong. I will fix them as soon as possible. You can see the full list of change notes here.

Stardew Guide Progress

My Stardew Valley Guide coverage has just begun as of July 8, 2016. I plan to put out pages regularly until I've covered most topics. For now I've completed guides on:

Skills & Unlocks New
Cows & Milk New
Gifts for Villagers (Hearts)
Combat New
The Skull Cavern New
The Desert New
Trees & Tappers New
Foraging New
The Secret Woods
Beginner's Guide New
Stardew Valley Tips
Crops to Grow for Bundles