A Better Snow Shovel




Your snow shovel will perform better

and you will like it more

if it's sized to suit you.

See the fellow in the picture above? The top of the handle on his shovel comes just to the top of his forehead. That's just the right size. He added a piece of hardwood dowel and extended the length of his shovel, and now his back feels better and his snow gets shovelled faster.

This is a very easy Instructable. If you have the right size of dowel on hand it will take only 5 - 10 minutes to complete. Once you have used the modified shovel you will wonder how you got along without it.

(Note: this Instructable is especially helpful for taller people.)

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Step 1:

Start with a good shovel. This one was purchased at Canadian Tire especially for this Instructable. The blade size is about 17" x 13" - but a blade that is a couple of inches narrower will work fine and will take lighter scoops of snow. This one has a plastic blade with a bit of curve, but it's not a full snow scoop. (Scoops are for pushing snow, not shovelling.)

Also required:

  1. a piece of dowel that's the right size to fit the shovel shaft
  2. a wood screw for attaching the handle

Step 2:

Remove the D handle.

Insert the dowel and fasten it with a wood screw.

Reattach the D handle on the end of the dowel. Size it so top of the D handle comes to the top of your forehead - perfect size for you!

Step 3:


This is a comparison picture of the custom snow shovel mod (you can see the length of dowel that has been added), and an unmodified, stock snow shovel. You will be surprised at the performance advantage of a shovel that is properly sized for you. And what's more, with this modification the shovel shovels - and it pushes!

Step 4:

Apologies to the Instructables community: when I first published this instructable I specified that the total length should bring the top of the handle even to the shoveller's nose. I have since found further performance advantage when the handle goes to the top of the forehead, and have amended the Instructable accordingly.

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    14 Discussions

    Thanks. As noted in the Instructable, try it first at your full body height. The best length depends on a number of considerations (blade shape / dimensions etc.) - but with a light plastic blade I think you will be pleased with the performance advantage that you get from a full length shovel. (We use these shovels with gloves or mitts, so the 'D' handle is also quite important to keep the handle from pivoting when you throw snow.)

    Duct tape 101

    4 years ago

    It's a amazing idea I'll try it thanks


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I've found that a handle midway through is an effective addition. There are some companies that make them, and they are easy to construction out of a bit of PVC as well.

    It's keeps you from bending over as well as an easy grip point for when snow needs to be thrown.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    The ones with the s-curve are great til the snow gets deep and you have to lift it shovel up higher.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I like longer handles, too, but I go with one only up to chin-height. One of the disadvantages of a longer handle is that you lose some of the force for scraping the pavement when you have to push from a higher part of the body. I have a few shovels and a metal scraper, so I'll have the appropriate tool for whatever conditions I encounter.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    So, the advantage is that you do not have to bend over when you throw a shovel full of snow??

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Not bending over, or bending over less, is a huge advantage over having to bend way over every time you have to pick up a shovelful of snow. Those so-called "ergonomic" shovels with the "s" bend in the handle are perhaps OK of shoveling snow in an engineer's laboratory, but suck in the real world. Having a longer handle provides much of the benefit, but also allows one to twist the handle for throwing snow off at an angle without much of it sliding off prematurely as one throws it.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    How would you determine how long your particular shovel handle should be? Because I'm 6'3" and sadly sometimes when I shovel a lot, my back hurts. I've been thinking of doing something like this, but don't know how long I should make it. Any suggestions?

    1 reply

    Hi. I answered earlier that the shovel should be sized so that when the blade is on the floor the top of the handle should reach your nose. Please read on.

    I have tested further, and it works better when the handle is lengthened so that the top of the handle reaches the top of your forehead. That is, the total shovel length is your full body height. I apologize for my earlier answer and now highly recommend that you make your shovel as tall as you are.

    The length of the handle is quite important and these extra few inches make a difference. This is particularly true for a taller person and one prone to back problems. I am quite confident that you will prefer the full-height shovel and I hope my earlier answer didn't lead you astray.

    While this is a very simple mod, I would not call the idea obvious. I never thought to do this. However, we do not get huge amounts of snow where I live, so perhaps I have not spent sufficient time contemplating the issue.

    it is obvious. but no shovel manufacturers make handles that long.

    It's a great idea. thank you for sharing.