The T Leaf : A.k.a. Toilet Trowel




Introduction: The T Leaf : A.k.a. Toilet Trowel

About: If I can make it, repair it, repurpose it, reuse it and recycle it I am happy.

For many years I carried the orange plastic trowel when back packing.  Even with the handle drilled out to reduce weight it still weighed 45g.
Needless to say it finally broke at the handle.

Looking at the junk (saved treasures) in the shed for a replacement I noticed I had some Aluminium Capping (approx 0.5mm thick) and an old garden trowel.  These started my thinking and resulted in The T Leaf.

The final weigh in resulted in a larger trowel that was only 39g.

Tools I used :-
A sheet of paper salvaged from the printer.
Black Sharpie
Angle grinder with a metal cut off blade.
Flat file.
An electric drill or a hand drill.
A 15mm metal drill bit.
Rat-tail file.
A range of silicon oxide sanding papers.
Practice safe work.
Use ear muffs and safety goggles.  Hold material in a vice or clamps when drilling or grinding.

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Step 1: The T Leaf : Design and Lay Out

The gardening trowel that inspired the T Leaf has the approximate measurements.
Length 170 mm.
Widest point 90 mm.
Rounding down to approx 60mm near the point.

The fold in the capping strip was used to add rijidity.

Fold the paper in half-lengthwise.  Using the dimensions above layout your overall shape.  Remember that the final template will be symmetrical along the fold.
Cut along your curve.

Step 2: The T Leaf : Cutting Out

Lay the fold of the template along the fold in your aluminium.  Mark around the edge with your Sharpie.

Use the angle grinder to rough ouy the T Leaf.  If you outline the shape with the angle grinder it is much easier to use tin-snips for the final rough shaping.

The bench grinder is used to remove the final excess material.  Use the grinder to slowly remove the marks from the Sharpie.

The flat file is used to remove grinding marks from edges.  Be careful of the burrs created by the grinder they are sharp and can do you an injury .

The silicon oxide paper is now used to round off all edges.

Step 3: The T Leaf : Thumb Hole

To assist in use I have added a thumb hole.

Drill a 15mm hole off center on the right leaf if you are right handed. (on the other side for the lefties).

The rat-tail file is used to alter the shape of this hole so that the thumb can be used to grip the T Leaf.  Use small pieces of the oxide paper to round off all edges of the hole.

The final step is to polish off any burrs, marks and layout lines with the oxide paper.

Step 4: The T Leaf: Finally

The overall weight is only 39 g.

The use of T Leaf will change depending on the ground on which it is used.

In rocky land it can be used to lever rocks to create the hole.
When the ground is hard and dry it is held in the manner shown in the photos.
For soft ground or when digging a small fire trench it is held as an extension of the palm.

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    10 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Surely it should only be bears s#!!!!G in the woods!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is for digging? When I read the title and saw the picture, I thought this was a butt scraping tool! :D


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Me too and yet we all clicked on here to see how it works, and how I can make one for my own butt.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I think its for digging a hole to poop in so close I guess lol.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Why not use your angle grinder to cut a sirated edge for light sawing of roots or grass when digging. You could also get a large rubber grommet to put in the hole. This will make it much more ergonomic :)


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I find that the sharpened edge is usually sufficient to dig most places.
    As weight is a major consideration I did not use a grommet. If I was going to pad the hole I would tend to run a ring of silicone sealer around both edges and the with damp hands mold them together over the edge.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    nice! this is awesome.

    I've been trying to find a decent backpacking-ready trowel/shovel for years and the old ww2 style ones have seemed to be the only viable option but they're large and heavy for the little use i'd actually be getting from them. This is perfect!

    I wonder if a sugru (or oogoo) pad around the thumb hole and along the back ridge would make it more ergonomically ideal too . . .Living in AZ with sometimes rock hard soil would make any digging somewhat painful lol


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for your thoghts.

    As Sugru is difficult to obtain here, it tends not to enter my thinking. give it a go in your model and let us know how it goes.