Last winter some hardware stores offer a new invention to help us with the winter and the task of shovel snow. It's an handle that you fix near the middle of your snow shovel ( or of your snow pusher) so when you shovel you don't have to lean so much, that means less back pains for you. Another advantage is that you have a better distribution of your working arm`s muscles on the shovel. This commercial accessory, made in plastic, clips on your shovel without any modification and without any tool. When the spring is coming you can easily take off and use it for any other tools like a rake. Ok but the price is near the price of a new ergonomic shovel with a curve handle!
On the photo you can see at left and at right a snow pusher and a snow shovel with my innovation. At the center you can see a commercial ergonomic snow pusher with a curve handle. When raising up snow you will take your second hand just near the beginning of the curve with a good compromise between the work ( force x distance ) and the height ( you want your back straight ). See now for my two modified shovels, the result is the same and may be better because you can adjust the heights at two places and find for you the most comfortable and ergonomic adjustment.
So last winter I decided to DIY something like this, may be with some compromises but with less money and with recycled materials. This is my idea: you take a scrap of ABS tube and a scrapped hand shovel and drill four holes, that's all. The right price for me is 0$ ! My prototype was so good that I decided to make many units for gifts in my family and my neighborhood.
It's my pleasure to share this project with you. Depending on the model of your shovel (or your snow pusher) you can have to change some measures. Show me your ergonomic tools and tank me for less back pains and, please, vote for me in the contest for DIY gifts.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
List of the materials and tools:
- The shovel or snow pusher or other garden tool you want to be ergonomic.
- A lenght of ABS tube, 3.5 in (diameter) and 3.7 in (lenght). Depending of the diameter of the two handles, the lenght can be a little more. Wait to cut.
- An old shovel handle or some old handle of a garden tool.
- Some screws and screwdriver
- Saw and vise
- Digital caliper or rule
- Wood spade bit set
- File for wood (half round).
- Masking tape
- Protractor or a rubber band
Step 2: Saw the Shovel Handle
Take a recovered old handle from a scraped tool like a shovel, place it on your vise and saw it near the half of the handle. You must have about 22 inches.Take a wood file and round the cut.
Step 3: Measure the Diameters
-Take a caliper and note the diameter of the recuperated handle and of the tool that you want to be ergonomic, a snow pusher in my exemple.If you don't have a caliper, take a rule with a pencil and after making a projection of two sides on a piece of paper, take note of the diameter of each handle.
Step 4: Drill the First Hole
- First verify if the ABS tube is well cut at 90 degrees at one end. If not, make a good cut at 90 degrees
- Take your drill with a spade bit of the same diameter or a little less than the diameter of one of the hand shovel, ( for me I need 1 3/8 inch )
then put the ABS in a vice and make a mark on a piece of masking tape at least 0.5 inch from the end of the ABS tube.Verify that the tube is horizontal and well fixed in the vice (photo 1). Now place the spade bit like sleeping on the tube perpendicularly in a manner that the exterior of the spade bit just touch your mark at 0.5 inch (again photo 1) and make a new mark corresponding with the center of the spade bit (photo 2).Then move the tube in the vice in a manner to have the mark for the spide bit near the center of the vice to have a good support when you drill.
- Hold your drill with the spade drill perpendicularly to the tube and place the bit on the center mark.Take care! It's not easy to drill a good hole on a slippery circular surface. (You can practice on another piece of tube). But at this stage just make a little hole with the point of the spade bit until you just drill through this surface of the tube with the point of the bit.
- Now change the spade bit for a regular 3/16 inch bit and drill again in the same hole. Then take a 6 inches finition nail, and with a hammer, punch it vertically down on the bottom surface of the tube in a manner to have a mark well centered when we will drill the second hole with the spide bit (photo 3)
- Remove the nail and drill the first hole on the top. Take care! risks of kickback or blocking (photo 4). Stop to drill when you begin to see through the big hole, it's not safe to try to go completely through the tube. Take a half round wood file (or a hand jigsaw ) and finish the hole (photo 5).
Step 5: Drill the Second Hole
- Now we drill the second hole at the bottom, but I prefer to drill it with the tube turned 180 degrees in the vice. Place the drill with the spide bit well centered on the mark already made with the finition nail and perpendicularly to the tube. Drill this second hole like the first one (photo 1). Be carefull!
- Finish the hole with the wood file (photo 2).
Step 6: How to Find Where to Drill the Third Hole
This third hole must be drill exactly at a certain distance of the first one and with the good angle with respect to the first hole. The angle center to center of the handles is about 50 degrees. I suggest two methods to do that.
- First method: Take a protractor and with the zero angle well placed at the center of the handle, find the angle of 50 degrees on the protracrtor and put a mark on the circumference of the tube for this angle (photo 1).
- Second method: First we must determine where is the center of the tube. Put some masking tape on the mouth of the tube and trace at least two diameters. How to trace a diameter? We know that the diameter of this tube is 3 1/2 inches. So in any place where you measure 3 1/2 inches with a ruler ( a recall from geometry 101: any diameter will cross at the center with another one of the same circle ) (photo 2). Now trace a vertical line going from the center to the top of the tube and put a mark for the 0 degree angle. Next, trace an horizontal line on the tape going from the center of the circle to the right side of the tube. Put another mark there, it's our 90 degrees angle (photo 3).
Take a large rubber band of about 4 inches of lenght and fix it around the tube. With a pencil, make a mark on the rubberband at 0 degree and another at 90 degrees. Now take off the rubberband and measure the distance between the marks without stretching the rubber band. Suppose it is 1.5 inch, so if 1.5 inch correspond to 90 degrees, how inches correspond to 50 degrees? ( a recall of maths 101 ! ) It's 50/90 x 1.5 = 0.8 inch or near 3/4 inch. Put a mark at this distance between the two marks on the rubber band, then place it again around the tube with the 0 degree well aligned and mark the 50 degrees angle. What a magic trick! (again photo 3).
- Now by tracing a horizontal line on the tube from this point at 50 degrees on the circumference, we can determine the center of the next hole to drill. On this line the center will be in my example at 2.85 inches (72 mm) because I have 2.0 inches for the distance between the extremity and the diameter of the handle plus 1/4 inch (distance wanted between the two handles) plus 0.60 inch (1/2 diameter of the next handle to fix ). In this case about 3.0 inches will be good. Put a mark at this center for the third hole (photo 4).
Step 7: Drill the Third and the Fourth Holes
- Replace the tube on the vice in the same position taken to drill the first hole. The hole to drill is place in the center of the vice. Here we take a spade bit with a diameter a little smaller than the diameter of the second handle. For me it's a 1 1/8 inches. Take care and drill the third hole on the top using the method explained at the step number 4 and see here the photo 1.
- Take off the handle and turn the tube on the other side to have the fourth hole to drill on the top of the vice. Drill. You can see (photo 2) the tube now with the drilled fourth hole. The masking tape is for the next step.
Step 8: Cut the Tube
- Take your piece of ABS tube and determine the lenght to cut by adding the two lengths of the diameters plus at least one inch. This total length is the minimum lenght we must have for the ABS tube if you want a good and resistant handle. Make a mark at your lenght with a piece of masking tape all around the tube (photo 1). Take care to verify if the tape is at the good lenght all around and correct if there is an error.
- Place the tube with the mark near the border of the vice and cut the tube with a saw of your choice (you can try on the other extremity to see what kind of saw works well for you, me I prefer a mite saw). During the cut verify if you go right on the mark and ajust your cut. Turn the tube to see if the other hole will be at least at 0.5 inch of the cut and adjust your cut if necessary (photo 2).
Step 9: Fix the Tube on the Shovel and Adjust
- To fix this second handle you retry temporarily the handgrip of the shovel and you insert the tube by the holes of the appropriate diameter in the handle. If it's to hard you can take it in the vice to enlarge the hole.
- Before to insert the second handle place the tube on the side of the shovel corresponding to the good angle by rotating the tube180 degrees if necessary. Insert the second handle in the other holes. Insert and fix the handgrip.
- Now you can adjust the height of the tube on the handle of the shovel and the height of the second handle in the tube. Find the combinaison of the heights that is the best for you. To help you see again the photo in the introduction. You will find the good positions by working with the tool. When you have the good positions you can fix the new handle more firmly with black tape or with wood screws through the two handles ( drill a little hole before to prevent wood splitting).
Et voilà! Good bricolage ( bricolage means DIY)!