Monday, November 29, 2004

Two Piece Pack Shovel

This two-piece shovel fits invisibly inside a pack, and can be quickly shortened for deep hole digging where a shovel with a one-foot handle is needed.

Making the shovel is suprisingly simple. The new handle is made of half-inch galvanized pipe fittings from Home Depot. The shovel head is from an old long-handled shovel I had in the garage. This was a cheap stamped-metal shovel, but it should be fine since I intend to use it only as an occasional "poachers shovel" rather than my main digging tool.

To begin construction, I cut the old handle off the shovel, ground off the side rivet, drilled as much of the old wooden handle out of the socket as possible, and hammered what remained of the wood out of the throat with a bit of rebar driven backward up the slot.

The key to the pipe handle connection is to use an in-line pipe connector with a short piece of pipe extending down into the throat of the shovel socket. This pipe extension (see top picture) provides metal-to-metal contact inside the shovel socket, and gives the epoxy a lot of surface area to hold on to.

The pipe connector and short pipe extension are screwed together and slathered with PC-7 epoxy which is the consistency of tar. PC-7 is very strong epoxy and I used this same glue for making my Bertha-spoon which has held up to a lot of abuse.

The pipe connector and pipe extension are slid into the hollow throat of the shovel head (pipe connector out, pipe in), with care taken to keep the epoxy well away from the threaded hole where the pipe handle will be later be fitted.

Once the pipe connector socket is fitted flush with the shovel socket, it's time to thread on the full pipe handle. Once this is done, twist the "T" handle tight so that it lines up right for digging. The handle should be twisted in very tight because you will want the handle tight when digging.

Once the handle is lined up right, set the whole thing aside for at least 48 hours so that the epoxy can completely cure.

Once dry, the shovel can be disassembled and the pipe threads given a shot of oil to lubricate them. A plastic sleeve cap should be fitted over the threads of the shovel handle, and a rubber cork put into the shovel head, in order to keep out dirt. Another alternative is to tape them over with the same kind of plastic tape used on a deben collar.

This shovel digs fairly well. The pipe handle gives the shovel some weight which helps make digging easier. The pipe handle is a bit thin and a bit cold in your hand, but it is a strong handle and digging with it has been no problem.

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