A Seasonal Approach to Tool Upgrades in Stardew Valley: Which to Upgrade First

Many players often wonder when to upgrade their tools and which ones to prioritize in Stardew Valley. Your initial tools include a Scythe, Hoe, Watering Can, Axe, Pickaxe, and Trash Can. All tools except the Scythe can be upgraded at Clint’s Blacksmith Shop. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty details.

Upgrade Requirements


Upgrading any tool takes two in-game days. If you start the upgrade today, you’ll get the upgraded tool the day after tomorrow.

Clint’s Blacksmith Shop

Clint does not trade while he’s working on an upgrade, so purchase any items you need beforehand. Unlike Robin, Clint works even on festival days.

Upgrade Costs

The costs for upgrading the Hoe, Pickaxe, Axe, and Watering Can are the same in terms of materials and gold:

  • Copper Tools: 5 Copper Bars, 2,000g
  • Steel Tools: 5 Iron Bars, 5,000g
  • Gold Tools: 5 Gold Bars, 10,000g
  • Iridium Tools: 5 Iridium Bars, 25,000g

The Trash Can can also be upgraded at half the cost.

Why Upgrade the Trash Can?

Upgrading your Trash Can allows you to get a percentage of the money back for items you throw away:

  • Copper: 15% return
  • Iron: 30% return
  • Gold: 45% return
  • Iridium: 60% return

The primary purpose for this upgrade is aesthetics.

Upgrading the Hoe

The Hoe is generally the least used tool. It’s mainly useful for tilling new soil at the beginning of each month. Upgrading it to Gold increases the speed but is often seen as not worth the cost. Some players opt for alternatives like using Bombs for quick soil tilling. With the introduction of the Greenhouse and Ginger Island, where tilling is a one-time affair, the Hoe becomes even less essential.

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Upgrading the Watering Can

You can replace the Watering Can with sprinklers, so it’s either upgrade early or don’t upgrade at all. The efficiency gain from upgrading the Watering Can to copper is marginal. You’ll find sprinklers to be far more effective. Still, if you’re planting a lot of crops early and aren’t using sprinklers yet, upgrading the Watering Can can be beneficial.

The Importance of the Pickaxe

After Spring 5th, you can start mining, a crucial activity for obtaining ores needed for further upgrades, Sprinklers, and other important items. Upgrading your Pickaxe significantly influences your mining speed and level progression. Some players opt to fish and buy ores to upgrade their Pickaxe as quickly as possible for fast returns from mining. If you’re following a Sprinkler-focused strategy, it’s advisable to mine down to at least floor 40 using a basic Pickaxe, collect enough ores for basic Sprinklers, and then consider upgrading your Pickaxe.

Why the Axe is Vital: An In-depth Look

Among all the tools, the axe tends to be underestimated despite its immense utility. A common misconception is that it’s merely for chopping down trees and not much else. However, the truth is quite different, particularly when one considers its impact on your foraging skills.

Resource Efficiency

Your initial axe requires 10 hits to chop down a tree, consuming considerable energy. With a Gold Axe, it only takes 4 hits, and with an Iridium Axe, just 2. This is the most significant efficiency boost among all tool upgrades.

Foraging Skills

Your foraging level impacts several aspects of gameplay, including the quality of foraged items and the recipes you can craft. Chopping down trees not only provides you with essential resources like wood and sap but also contributes to your foraging experience points. Given how foraging is challenging to level up compared to other skills, an efficient axe can make a big difference.

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Crafting and Building

Foraging is crucial when you want to craft items like Tappers for sap or Lightning Rods. An upgraded axe lets you gather the necessary resources more quickly, aiding you in reaching the required foraging level for these recipes sooner. As you progress, you’ll find that you need higher levels of foraging to craft more advanced items.

Seasonal Impact

An upgraded axe can be particularly useful in preparing for different seasons. For instance, you may need to clear land quickly to plant seasonal crops. Having an upgraded axe saves time and energy, allowing you to be more productive in other areas like mining or fishing.

My Personal Upgrade Sequence

Typically, I focus on upgrading the Axe to steel before planting Strawberries. After that, I upgrade the Pickaxe twice for efficient mining. By the end of spring, I aim for a gold Axe for faster foraging. The rest of the tools are upgraded based on my mid-to-late game needs.

What’s your upgrade strategy? Feel free to share in the comments below!


Tool upgrades are crucial in Stardew Valley, affecting your efficiency in various activities. While the sequence can vary based on your gameplay style, understanding the mechanics behind each tool can help you make informed decisions.

So, what are you waiting for? Head over to Clint’s Blacksmith Shop and start upgrading!

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