'Cumulonimbus 2000' Multitool




About: I made a beer mug with only a knife and a hatchet. I think that says a lot about me.

Since we're planning to adopt a few dozen chickens, a piece of our land needs to be fenced. Not really to prevent that this wildfowl envades the surrounding cropfields - if they're Born To Run, they have to run - but rather to offer them a neutral area 'chickserland' where they can't be chased by one or other nugget-ivorous dog. Or one that thinks that you have to shake them very fast left-right-left-right-left-right to get free eggs (one thing that I learned about dogs is that they don't exactly think like humans, but they can be surprisingly creative).

So holes need to be drilled, poles planted, wires stretched and fence attached. No big deal, I hear you say 'wazzamatta', since we're living in a world where (powered) soil drills are as common as electric corkscrews & toothbrushes.

Nice knowledge. But what to do if you don't have such a drill? Even not a manual one.

Welcome in my reality.

Buying one? I had only 20 poles to plant, so it was really not worth the cost. And money is for beer.

Asking my neighbour? Asking creates obligations. I hate obligations.

Trying to make one? Thàt sounds like a lot better!

As always, the absence of the right tool boosted my creative brainstuff for a while and so I came up with this 'soil gouge'.

Agreed, it looks like a 'Nimbus 2000' with a jet engine. Sounds nice. I like it!

Whatever. It's been tested, it's been approved. I enjoyed the building of it and I enjoyed even more the using of it. It worked just perfect for what I had to do. What else a man can ask more from something he built with his own hands?

And I got my arms & shoulders workout for free. Which is, honestly, the very basic cro-magnon-ic reason why I became so eager to build this device. We are all cro-magnons. Most people just have lost the knowledge how to deal with it.

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Step 1: Gettin' Supplies

The idea is to make a giant 'gouge' which you'll smash in the ground, again and again and again, from which you'll remove the soil core and that you'll smash in the growing hole again. Smash, remove, repeat. Do this a few times and in ten minutes you'll have a nice pole hole almost two feet deep.

To build this awesome tool you don't need NASA's workshop - just a piece of big steel tube, a piece of toolwood and a bunch of basic tools.

Why making holes first?! Because our ground is so dense (high clay content) that it's quite impossible to drive poles in it without pre-drilling. And also because I'm using old poles that will split if you would drive them in the ground like new ones. I tried, I failed.

Step 2: Prepping the Tube

  • clamp the tube and cut it to length (60 cm aka two feet)
  • draw a line parallel to the side from the bottom till halfway
  • cut a straight groove and hold the line
  • use whatever you want to enlarge that groove, a burin works just fine
  • if you're lucky to have a big bolt, insert it in the pipe and smash it as far as you can(it will open the groove everywhere the same)
  • drill two holes in the ungrooved half of the tube, straigth through
  • sand and sharpen the edges
  • use goggles, earplugs and dust mask

Step 3: Prepping the Handle

Try to find a piece of tough wood (or recycle an old shovel handle), cut it to length (4 feet) and sand it. I used my very last leftover of the hughe amount of hazel I harvested last winter, so happy that I finally found a decent destination for this 'ugly duck' of the nest...

Step 4: Assembling

Put A in B by smashing on the top of the handle with a wooden hammer while YOU HOLD THE HANDLE (of Nimbus) FREELY (i.e. not placed on the ground). The chisel will move upwards and the sharp edge won't be damaged.

Do it, you'll see.

Step 5: Work Out!

Hold Nimbus with both hands and smash it in the ground - because of its weight this goes surprisingly well! Again and again. Remove the soil trapped inside the gauge regularly and repeat this workout until the entire gauge is beneath ground level.

Rain Update: when it rains, it works even better!

To plant that pole: poor some water at the base of the pole and in the hole (this will act as lubricant). Insert the pole in the hole and smash it with a wooden sledge hammer till it's anchored.

Seal the pole by smashing the hammer on the ground at the base of the pole.

Rock solid! Time to do the next one!

Hope you like it, and thanx for watching!

Step 6: Off the Record

Beside an excellent garden tool and a fast way to fly me from A to B, I discovered that this device has a lot of bonus features.

It appeared to be an excellent weapon against Balrogs - since I made it I haven't seen those creatures in our garden (coincedence?). Hit it on the ground and shout the magic words. Do this several times a day.

It's also extremely effective against zombies. You can use it sideways 'baseball-style' or frontways 'snooker-style'.

It can even be used against mosquito's - just set in on 'flamethrower'-mode.



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    21 Discussions


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    If this is what I think it is it only works for steel pickets, no? If you want to plant wooden poles you have to make a (slightly smaller than the diameter of the pole) hole first. Thanks to modify the initial name, anyway ;)


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    It should work for wooden stakes if the wood is sturdy enough to be pounded on the top with a sledge hammer. I guess the clamshell post digger shovel is the other option to get a hole but you would have to backfill in afterwards. Rocky soil will always slow you down and give you a workout.


    Reply 4 years ago

    I have seen a larger version for wooden stakes which will work to pound the stakes after the hole is dug...it could also assist the hole digging or is it good enough without?


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    There are mechanized pile drivers for any type of post or pier that you want to sink into the ground and for whatever the soil the conditions are. I guess this is all for manual labor on a homestead location.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Got an ice fishing auger at a garage sale for fifty cents. Use it for making post holes. Just leaned over it and walked around in a circle until it was deep in the ground. Lift the auger out of the ground and you have a deep, even hole with little effort. Will not work in rocky soil, but is guaranteed to chase local nargles away without effort from you.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is a very clever tool, nice work! Now, you should make an instructable for that mallet in step 5...that looks fairly cool and useful as well.

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanx - and indeed, it IS a very usefull mallet.

    To make one, here's a micro-Instructable:

    - try to find a nice piece of difficult-to-split wood (rootwood is often perfect, but I have very good experience with a log of wild cherry)

    - cut it to almost one foot (30cm) and drill a hole in the middle

    - find a quite heavy pole of hazel, three feet long

    - adjust the hole in the head so that it has just a bit less than the diameter of the heavy side of the handle

    - insert the handle in the head (force required) and use some lineseed oil to anchor it tight

    - drill a hole straight through the head and insert a hardwood pin to securize the whole

    - you're done!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Wowo, thanks Bricobart. I'm on it! No hazel wood around here, but perhaps a nice hard maple or oak would suffice.


    5 years ago

    I've been having balrock problems. Maybe this will help repell them (they are, after all, so messy to kill).

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Killing them is one thing, cleaning the mess another. They burn for almost two weeks, with lots of blue smoke.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    If you add a strong horizontal cross bar just above the gouge piece then you can place it on the ground and jump on it like a pogo stick. I used to use a tool like this when I was a kid, even though I weighed very little I could still get through hard ground.

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great tool and instructable. Have you struck a rock yet with it? I wonder how it would deal with those sorts of impacts as far as re-shaping is concerned. I live in a previously-highly-glaciated area of northern Minnesota and the boulders in our soil are ridiculous. Do you suppose it's rigid enough to be torqued side to side? Sometimes that works to loosen 'em up.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanx henge! There are lots of bricks in some parts of our garden and I was quite surprized how easily this tool goes through it. You'll need some force & dedication, agreed, but it goes through without big damage to the head. Bricks aren't the same as real rocks, but I should give it a try!

    Wow... this is an interesting tool :). You are so lucky to live in a place with natural surroundings :) my friend.