Repairing A Shovel Handle
Duct tape can be used to fix just about anything including including a garden tool handle. Unfortunately, a little too much pressure applied to a handle repaired with duct tape and you could find yourself flat on your back with only half of a shovel in your hands – not to mention the splinters. An old tattered garden tool handle is inexpensive and easy to replace.
However, a garden tool will last for generations — if properly maintained. And the good news is that the maintenance really is quite easy to perform. All you have to do is keep your tools clean, dry and well oiled (or painted). We really made that sound simple didn’t we. Yeah, except when someone forgets and leaves the tools outside for seven winters in a row. Welcome to the world of many American gardeners.
One easy maintenance trick is to mix equal parts of linseed oil and paint thinner into a container and store the mixture in the garden-tool storage-area. Once every several months wash the handles with soap and water and dry in the sun for a few hours. Then, use a rag to rub the oil mixture all over the tool. The oil will reduce the chance for rust on the metal parts of the tool and will protect the wood handle from water damage. And remember, keeping wood handles oiled will prevent them from drying out and splitting, cracking and splintering.
After seven winters in the rain, sleet, sun and wind anything made of wood is bound to need replacement. But don’t fret – replacing a garden tool handle isn’t difficult. And in fact, you may enjoy the accomplishment you will probably feel once you have successfully completed such a repair.
In any event, here’s how you do it.
First, use a hacksaw or other metal cutting devise to remove the rivet that connects the wooden handle to the inside of the metal retaining sleeve. With the rivet cut, use a large nail or a pin punch to drive the rivet out. No, don’t worry, you aren’t going to need any expensive, specially designed tools to reinstall the rivet when you replace the handle. So, with the rivet removed there is only one thing between you and handle replacement and that is driving the handle out of the retaining sleeve.
Removing the handle can be the most difficult part of this project. You will want to brace the foot rest portion of the shovel blade against the edge of a solid wall or corner. Be careful here. You may damage the surface upon which the shovel rests, so it is wise to choose the hidden edge of the support you select. The handrail of a deck could work as a support, but might be damaged – plan for the worst here. Use a piece of hardwood (a dowel would be nice) and a hammer to drive the handle out of the blade sleeve. By the way, it is a good idea to have help with this part of the repair. One person to hold the shovel wedged against a support and the other person to drive the handle out with a hammer and wood punch.
Installing the new handle is really a breeze. Slip the blade sleeve over the tapered end of the new handle as far as it will go, and holding the tool with the blade up, strike the end of the handle against a solid surface like a concrete floor or walk. You will be amazed! The blade and handle will begin to blend together as one.
Retaining the shovel can be done with a screw or a new rivet. The screw is easier, but may have to be tightened from time to time. The rivet takes a little longer, but is more permanent than a screw.
To hold the handle with a screw, drill an eighth inch pilot hole through the rivet hole and about ¼ inch into the shovel handle. Then use a #8 x 3/8 inch stainless, self-tapping screw through the rivet hole and into the pilot hole. Repeat this process at the second rivet hole.
If you are more mechanically inclined, a rivet can be used for a more solid repair. First, drill a hole through the handle beginning at the rivet hole on one side to the rivet hole on the other side. Use bit that is smaller than the rivet to make a pilot hole first. Then use a bit that is the diameter of the rivet to make the final hole. A new rivet can be inserted where the old one used to reside. With the rivet in place on the sleeve, lay the head of the rivet and sleeve on a solid metal surface such as a sledge hammer head or a bench vice. Then use a ball-peen hammer to flatten the other end of the rivet. You will find that the rivet is relatively soft and easy to form. That wasn’t too hard….now was it!?!