When I presented the busted spading fork to my husband, I expected some degree of exasperation. Not that he is prone to anger at all, but everyone has his limit. My husband is the one who cleans up after this sort of garden destruction, and I have broken a lot of spading fork handles. However, he only gently reminded me of the spading fork he had repaired last year. How was it working? Did I think it would stand up to abuse better? That sort of thing.
I assured him I knew where it was, but admitted that since it was a bit heavier than the, ahem, breakable ones, that I hadn’t used it a lot. He suggested I try it a bit more and report back. He was willing to problem solve as needed.
Motivated by guilt, I proceeded to weed for the rest of the afternoon with this new and improved spading fork. I pushed and stomped. Large, thick rooted weeds were expelled. Neither I nor the spading fork broke. It felt somewhat miraculous.
I had to admit that the extra weight did not slow me down or tire me as I had thought it might. It may have even been just enough more so that the fork tended to go farther into the ground with less force on my part. Now, I was more curious about its construction and my husband gladly explained it to me.
The components are:
- handle length of PVC pipe, diameter 1 inch
- masking tape
- rebar, almost same length as PVC pipe
- metal fork portion of broken spading fork
First, he took what remained of the wooden handle off of the fork. Then, he welded one end of the rebar to the metal poking out opposite the prongs of the fork. This is the metal that had been inserted into the wooden handle. That is, the rebar became an extra thickness of that metal down near the fork and an extension of it that would help secure it into the cement, as well as strengthen the whole handle. He thinks that winding them together with wire would likely work, but he likes to weld things and has the equipment to do it.
Next, the rebar combo end was inserted into one end of the PVC pipe. Masking tape was wrapped around it and the pipe to hold it tentatively in place. This also served the function of blocking that end of the pipe.
Since so little cement was needed, he mixed it by hand in a bucket, similar to what is described in my previous D&B blog about making a chicken water heating stone. There is no need for adding color, and he made the cement just a little bit wetter so that it would pour more easily.
A funnel was constructed out of either a scrap of cardboard or an empty soda bottle. He uses this types of impromptu funnels regularly, but can’t remember exactly which one he used in this case. The wet cement was patiently poured into the open end of the PVC pipe, while intermittently knocking the side of the pipe and tapping the fork on the floor to help the cement settle and work out any air bubbles.
Once the pipe-handle was full of cement, it was simply set upright against a wall while it hardened. If desired, a piece of tape could be placed over the upper end. The repaired spading fork was safe to be moved after a day or two, but he recommends letting any freshly made models completely cure for a week before use.
We discussed minor improvements on the next model, such as attaching the original hand hold on the upper end of the new handle. This kind of repair would be a nice way to make a longer handle for a taller person, too.
It was nice not to have to worry so much about breaking the cement PVC pipe handle while I weeded. I know I tested it because I saw it bend under pressure, but it held up when a wooden spading fork would have snapped. It should also be more weather resistant. I really don’t feel like I have the physical strength to demolish things, but I must admit that it is kind of fun to say I have snapped a thick piece of wood in two like a ninja.