Shovel Handle

Sometimes, tools show their age but still deliver the goods. Here, I had a request to make a new handle for a shovel (of sentimental value too) since the current one had started to rot.

The photo below shows the original wooden grip. The underside was split and the metal pin (quarter inch) through it was exposed in some places. I hacked the wood off and left the metal pin in initially as I wasn’t sure if Michael wanted me to cut through it if it could possibly be re-used.

The offcut pieces from my guitar hanger project came in handy for this. I glued them together, trying to align the grain where possible. The flat parts made it easy to glue and align. The holes in these were from the drill bit guiding the original hole saw operation. I didn’t go out of my way to align these holes as we would need to make a new, larger one through everything in one go later.

A couple of days in the clamp and I was ready to start shaping it on the lathe. First stop was the roughing gouge, turning between two centres.

Once I’d formed a circular profile with no flat bits remaining, I transferred measurements to the blank.

I wanted to leave the ends proud so they would sit within the recesses of the metal handle for added support, whilst keeping the main edges flush to the handle itself. I just eyeballed these but I could have used a gauge for symmetry. Fortunately, the 4 pieces that made up the blank acted as guidelines since they were of equal thickness, so I used these ot help.

After I’d got the end measurements right, the rest was done by feel. I don’t really like measuring things unnecessarily and to go by how it felt in the hand as a shovel handle was much better.

It was then time to trim the excess off. I’d let the shape drift so that the middle join between pieces 2 and 3 were no longer in the centre but if you didn’t know to look for it, you wouldn’t really notice.

With the free (non-chucked) end shaped suitably, I switched this end to be clamped into the jaws of the chuck and cut off the other end against the free end. I then used a stick of beeswax and buffed this to give it some protection against the elements without it becoming too slippery or sticky.

Michael was with me when it came to fitting the handle and he was happy for us to cut the original pin out. After some serious wrestling and using the vice (at the time it was just on the floor and not on a bench) to pry it open and then shut again, I drilled a few small holes in each side to put brads into. This held it whilst we could drill out a new hole for a new pin. I would have found something more suitable than the bolt we had to hand but he had a job coming up and wanted to use it.

The bolt was tightened as much as we could before the end was cut off and rounded off with a grinder.

I enjoyed this project and the restoration aspect. It didn’t look out of place (except maybe the exposed nut) and had absolutely no play at all, making it ideal for its next graft. Again, it shows the value of keeping the odd piece of offcut “just in case”!

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