Introduction: Shovel Handle Repair

Many useful tools get discarded because the handle gets broken off through hard work or abuse, and the owner cannot or will not complete the repair. This solid back, round bottom shovel was rescued from the garbage, looking all rusty, with a broken handle. It is shown here repainted and cleaned up with the shortened original handle, refitted and ready for riveting. Here are the steps.

Step 1: Canadian Made Shovel

Some reasons that shovel was of interest are: it is older (probably from the fifties), a solid back design, and it was made in Canada.

Step 2: Fitting and Riveting the Handle.

The first step is to remove the old rivets. They are larger, so you cannot simple drive them through with a punch. The best way is to get out your grinder and grind off the heads of the rivets, then you can punch them through and out with a pin punch.

The first picture shows the broken off handle stub already removed, alongside the existing handle, cut off cleanly (shortened) and re-shaped to fit the shovel's socket. You can use the stub as a guide when doing your re-shaping. When you get the handle close to fitting correctly, insert the handle firmly and twist back and forth. Any areas that need more attention will show up as dark scuff marks on the handle.

I used a hand plane to rough out the taper, then finished it to size with a file, then sandpaper for the final fitting. My favorite file for this type of shaping is called a "Four In Hand" style (shown in the second picture). It is a half round model divided into four cuts (rough and smoother in flat and half round sections) Most home improvement/ hardware stores carry them.

Picture three, shows the proper shovel handle rivets. They measure 7/32" diameter X 1 3/4" long. Find them in an old time hardware store or a Home Hardware store in Canada will carry a similar size. Picture four shows them.

Step 3: Handle Orientation

The final overall length of the shovel  turned out to be 53" which is quite acceptable for our family as we are all fairly short. Note that the handle needs to be positioned with the long grain on top to gain the most strength, as per the Pop. Mechanics diagram included.

Step 4: Earlier Hollow Back Re-handle Job.

Shown, is an earlier repair job on a less desirable hollow back stamped body type of shovel. Before I found the above rivets, I used a regular 1/4" bolt as my rivet....just did not look as clean.  Riveting is fairly easily done if you have a medium weight ball peen hammer and an anvil of some sort. A length of RR track or a hunk of steel will do.