Gardening Tool: the Ho-Mi




About: I'm a middle school science teacher going on 17 years in the classroom. I've taught 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. I'm constantly looking to improve my instruction and Instructables is one of the places I sear...

ˈvərsədl/ adjective

1. able to adapt or be adapted to many different functions or activities. "a versatile gardening tool" synonyms:adaptable, flexible, all-around, multifaceted, multitalented, resourceful;adjustable, multipurpose, all-purpose, handy

The Ho-Mi gardening tool translates in Korean to "little ground spear". They were first made in Korea during the Bronze Age. The tool has been in use for five thousand years! It's hard to imagine a better example of biomimicry. Try to think of an organism that is considered an efficient digger. I bet they have an appendage that can be compared to the head of a Ho-Mi. The miniature plow design makes it perfect for opening the soil for seeding or setting out transplants, for weeding and for planting bulbs. The unique shape allows you to do many tasks (hilling, digging, weeding, and planting) with only one tool. The tool also lessens the strain on your wrists because the tool is pulled through the earth vs. a stabbing motion used with a trowel. This Instructable documents how I recreated this versatile gardening tool with materials I had laying around.

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Step 1: Materials

Scrap Sheet Steel: 12 -14 gauge

Angle Grinder with cutting, grinding, and polishing wheels.

Welder and welding safety gear

Bench Vice

Belt Sander


Old broom handle or tool handle

Drill with wood bits

Exterior Spray Paint to prevent rusting

Writing Utensil

Step 2: Raw Materials

Gather your scrap metal. This metal came from the hardware used to hang VCR's beneath the T.V.'s at the school where I teach. When the VCR became obsolete, so did the mounting brackets.

I had a broom with the whiskers all bent and broken. I recycled the handle from that broom for the handle of the Ho Mi.

The tang, which connects the plow part of the Ho Mi to the handle, was made from a bent eye bolt I found laying around.

Step 3: Draw Your Template

The Ho Mi has a shape like a heart with one side sliced off. The dimensions here don't have to be exact, but it's important to work within the parameters of your materials. First, sketch a design on paper. Next, trace the paper template onto the scrap metal. The same template can be used to make a left handed or right handed Ho-Mi by simply flipping the paper.

Step 4: Cut and Sharpen the Metal

First, use an angle grinder and rough cut the template you made on the sheet metal.

Next, using a grinding / polishing wheel, clean up your lines.

Step 5: Sharpen Your Ho-Mi

Use a polishing wheel and belt sander to sharpen the straight edge of the Ho-Mi. Turn the plow in the vice, clamp into place and sharpen the curved edge of the plow.

Step 6: Bend the Metal

The plate needs more of a plow shape. To get the correct shape, bang the heck out of the middle with a hammer.P

I also increased the curvature by clamping the pointed end in the bench vice and pulling just a little. Then I would move the metal down, clamp and repeat.

Finally, take the part of the heart that was sliced off (away from the pointed end) and clamp it in the vice. Bend the metal to an approximately 90 degree angle. This part of the plow that will attach to the tang.

Step 7: Weld the Plow to the Tang

The tang could be made of just about any thread-less metal rod. I had a bent eye bolt laying around so I repurposed it. The angle of the Ho-Mi head is important.

First, cut the eye of the eye bolt. Check the picture for for a close up. I forgot to document this step with a photo so I edited the photo to look like it did, before I welded it, to the plow.

The black paint on the plow had to be removed so the weld would have good contact points.

Step 8: Prepare Your Handle

If I didn't already have a perfectly good handle attached to a broken broom head, I would have attempted to turn my own handle on a lathe. But, then I'd still have a perfectly good broom handle attached to a broken broom in the corner of my classroom. The lathe can wait.

First, cut the handle to a good length. 15"-18" is about right for a short handled version and 60" for a long handled version.

Second, mark the center.

Third, starting with the smallest drill bit and working up in diameter, drill a hole just large enough for the tang. It's important that when you start with the smallest drill bit, your hole runs directly down the center and parallel with the handle. Don't try to force the tang into a hole that's too small because you run a high risk of splitting the handle.

This hole ended up being about 3 inches deep (the deepest I could make it with the drill bit I had)

Step 9: Protect Your Ho-Mi

Use an exterior, anti-rust spray paint to ensure your tool has a long life. Make sure to add a few coats.

Step 10: Attach the Tang and Handle

Using epoxy resin, mix well and pour into the hole in the handle. Insert the tang and allow the epoxy to cure.

Step 11: Balance Your Ho-Mi

You might notice from the pictures that the tang is bent as it exits the handle. To balance the Ho-Mi, the handle should be pointing towards the "X" as shown in the picture.

Test out your Ho-Mi. Fall in love with your Ho-Mi! Thanks for reading to the end. If you have any questions or suggestions, please comment!

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    8 Discussions


    2 years ago

    You can also buy them pretty cheap on eBay


    3 years ago

    I can't tell what I'm looking at in your cover image. It looks like you're slicing through a piece of black tape or something. Maybe change it for something that shows its scale, like an outdoor shot!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    The tool is sitting on one of the lab tables in my classroom. I think the video I posted gives the scale / outdoor shot you're looking for. It's a tough tool to take a picture of. Even if you search Ho Mi on line to look for vendors, it's difficult to get an idea of exact shape. I wanted my cover image to create enough interest so that members would want to know more. Just like you did with your yoga gloves :)


    Reply 3 years ago

    Two of the major differences are that its sharpened like a knife to cut through soil / weeds and it has more of a curved shape like a claw. I wouldn't use it to break ground like I do with my eye hoe or mattock, but it's great in my established beds. Thanks for looking.


    3 years ago

    I wish I had the skills and tools to make one of these :( Ah well, off to the interwebs to see how much they sell for

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks! I promise it wasn't super difficult to make. I'm lucky that the school where I teach has most of the tools I need.


    3 years ago

    note to self: revisit on a real computer to view vid . author: thanks for what appears a useful tool.