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A garden blade for home.  The photo doesn't show it, but the blade is curved like a trowel.  5160, blade width is 2 inches.  I didn't do a heat treatment, as it's going to meet a lot of rock during it's life.

post-2494-0-90337200-1402177260_thumb.jp

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I'm slowly replacing all the store bought tools around the home with tools I've made.  So far, this and an hatchet.

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If you were just using one to dig with and other garden tasks like digging up roots and weeds, could it be done of mild steel? Since these trowel like tools don't (to my knowledge, which is a shallow one) typically have much of an edge or hold much of an edge? I've thought about making my mother a trowel and some other stuff, but I don't have any real large pieces of carbon steel. 

 

Gerald, I love the look of this, too. It looks like it's had a life in the garden and tool shed. Very cool! 

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You could use mild steel... BUT weight is an issue and the bending stresses are MUCH GREATER than you imagine!!!  Medium carbon is better and spring steel is better yet!  When you have made a few you'll know that the time invested is well worthy of using high quality steel for material!  Ever hear of a shovel made of mild steel?  Likely you never will... unless it's just a coal scoop.  A trowel is a small shovel... maybe your wife will only scoop loose dirt with hers, but MY wife sticks hers straight into packed dirt and LEANS on the handle... prying out deep rooted weeds!  Then she uses it as a small hatchet to chop up clods with!  She likes it very long bladed, strong as a good crowbar and as light as a fine fly rod!!!  I tell you... it is NOT EASY to fill an order like that with a cheap quick forging out of mild steel!!!!  The fact is that you must totally forget about efficiency and any hope of commercial ambitions... to make a trowel that will be satisfactory you must abandon any thoughts of time management and simply forge... at WHATEVER COST... to the ultimate of your ability with the finest steel you have... accepting no compromises... then PRAY that you are good enough!!!!  Only love can motivate the necessary sacrifices!!!  It takes a PURE love indeed to forge a great trowel!!!  Be aware that everyone she knows will also want one then!!!  It is a task that you will NOT be able to fulfill!!!  Even if you would charge 1/4 of the true value of such a trowel you would SHOCK all involved!!!  Be aware that when you have made such a trowel... you may not be able to create another quite as fine in all the rest of your days!!!  Cherish it!!!  You would be a fool indeed to underestimate what it takes to make a truly fine trowel!!!!  It is a true test of all that you are as a man and a smith!!!!

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Mine was just pleased I cared enought to make it.  She has started taking to the Master Gardener's meetings, might  be cause to worry.

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I like the execution of your trowel. I also had a thought about material for the next one, if there is another. I learned a while back, here on IFI that bed frames are made from carbon steel. Every one that I've tested has proven to be so. Flatten a sufficient length of bed frame, taking care not to work it too cold. I've been impatient and cracked pieces where it is bent. Stay within forging temps. You always end up with a ridge where the fold line was, but can smooth that somewhat with your hammer. I've been too enthusiastic at that point as well. :lol:

 

A man named Phil suggested the pre-form method for some steps in the forging process. I had described the difficulties I encountered when forging handles with such thin steel. I had been encountering cold shuts, etc. That advice really helped a lot.

 

After forging, annealing, shaping, normalizing and finally hardening in canola oil, I pop it into the kitchen oven at 400F for an hour. If it's still too hard , it goes back in for another hour at 425F. Always do the heat treat when your better half is not going to be around. :ph34r:  After seeing what you've created, and everything I've just written, I now feel compelled to make one too. Thanks for the inspiration!  Robert

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That "trowel" looks like someone that an explorer would use to fight off a bear (pronounced barr). That is one heck of a tool! I agree with the normalizing of the steel but also I think not hardening and tempering is good as well. This thing is going to be very hard to break!

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It's a Hori Hori, a japanese trowel-like tool.  Nicely done.  The toothed side looks like it can actually do some root sawing.

Gerald, how thick is the blade at the guard?  Also, is there a taper in that dimension to the tip?

 

This tool has been on my to-do list and I might just get to it soon given this inspiration.  The lady has already done the planting this year, but maybe it can serve her in weed control.

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It's about 3/16 at the guard.  Not much of a taper, this is the first one and I wanted to get a feel for the making as a whole.  I'll be making a second one soon and it's going to be a leaner blade.  I think this one is too stout for the woman.  She says she likes it and shows it off, but is still using a much lighter trowel for day to day use.
 

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