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Danjmath

Questions on making a push-pull hoe

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My dad really wants a hand-forged push-pull hoe for his birthday, so I get to try something new.

First of all, what steel should I use. 

I have 1080, 52100, mystery-metal in an old lumber saw, and somewhere some 5160 that is really thick and will be a pain to forge by hand. I need to order some steel soon as well, so I could get anything that isn't too expensive.

Second, does anyone know a good way to attach the how to a handle?

My thought was to use a garage spring, and weld it to the hoe, then weld that to a "cup-sleeve" (I'm sure there is a better term for this) and put a rivet through the sleeve/wood, but am open to suggestions.

Thanks!

 

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1080 would be excellent.   If you bend it to a sort of flattened U shape... you could just fit the upper legs to the sides of the handle and through rivet them.  It will be important to get the angle right for the user!  Temper the 1080 to a bit softer than you would for a knife.  Many mower and scythe blades are made of 1080 or similar steel.

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Couple of notes on this because I use one all the time--it's my weeder of choice in many areas.

1) Be sure the profile is designed to allow for easy sharpening.  These work 500 times better when well sharpened and DO tend to wear the cutting edge quite a bit.  Odd shaped versions can be a pain to sharpen and a simple stirrup shape with fairly square corners is pretty easy.

2) Fairly square bottom corners makes it easier to get close to the "good" plants when whacking out weeds.  Those with hugely rounded corners on the "stirrup" are frustrating when trying to weed close to the good stuff.  Since weeds seem to have an evil brain, they love to hide close to the good stuff and make themselves harder to get.

3) No matter what you do, the stirrup will come a little loose on the handle over time.  Handles shrink, stuff wears, etc.  I'd attach it similar to the photo above but use bolts that can be re-tightened as needed--Lock nuts are probably best but you have to chase a wrench.  Wing nuts are handy to tighten in the field but that's sort of chasing your tail because they are also self-loosening, even with lock washers.  Many versions of these actually have the stirrup a little loose so it can tilt a hair between the pull and push stroke, keeping the blades in a cutting mode digging downward a hair).  One common name is "Hula-Hoe" due to this movement.  I'm not completely sold on that "action" but it might be something to play with when designing.

4) Longer handle than you think is necessary---shorter handles will turn you spine to pudding quickly so these work best when you can stay in a fairly upright position. Most handle lengths commercially make you hunch over too much.   Be sure the angle of the stirrup to the ground matches that upright position fairly well so that it can cut both push and pull without much handle joggling.

Oh...and an addendum--handle diameter that works with gloves on.  These things are blister makers.

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On 5/3/2018 at 1:20 PM, Kozzy said:

Couple of notes on this because I use one all the time--it's my weeder of choice in many areas.

1) Be sure the profile is designed to allow for easy sharpening. 

2) Fairly square bottom corners makes it easier to get close to the "good" plants when whacking out weeds. 

3) No matter what you do, the stirrup will come a little loose on the handle over time.  Handles shrink, stuff wears, etc. 

4) Longer handle than you think is necessary---shorter handles will turn you spine to pudding quickly

Oh...and an addendum--handle diameter that works with gloves on.  These things are blister makers.

Thanks, great advice.

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I know these as a Dutch Hoe, a web image search offers may design options on the basic tool, plenty of ''features' to ponder over.

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On 5/3/2018 at 9:38 AM, John in Oly, WA said:

Here's a picture of a push pull hoe. Looks like a pretty simple connection to the handle - three rivets or bolts.

 

push pull hoe.jpg

I think I'm going to make one this style, problem is, my stock is not long enough.

I'm thinking I will tack 2 pieces of 1080 at a 90 angle to form the V, and then forge weld them together.

Anyone have a reason why that would be a bad idea?

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Mediocre, I've made a few small Damascus billets fine, but thats about it. My MIG welding skills are a little better, but nothing to brag about.

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My only other steel long enough is a piece of 1095, which I am not going to be able to heat treat very well and is not ideal for the purposes, or mystery old lumber saw.

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1080 would be pretty good steel for that. Better than the 1095. Better would be something around the 60 range, but you work with what you've got. Forge welding is not that difficult, you should do fine. I'd probably leave the ends square and overlap them.

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There is no law that you need the full loop "stirrup" here--I have seen versions that were more like a squared off S hook with only a single leg to the cutting edge on one side--excellent at getting close to garden plants and you can even do a reach-around to the other side of plant stems with the proper geometry--something that's a pain with a full stirrup style.  Those really need a left hand version for left handed users.

Maybe your lack of material can result in a version like that.  I haven't used one so can't speak to the negatives but at least it gives you something to ponder in addition to the other designs

Also a "Winged weeder" where a "tang" rod from the handle comes down and is welded centrally to a wing-like blade.  I have used one of those and it works quite well.  Commercial versions tend to cheap out on the tang/handle connection but you might be able to improve on that, smithin' skills being what they are..

Go with your own style and if you develop an improved version, you might be in the scuffle hoe business :) 

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The forge weld went fine, working on getting everything in shape.

My dad takes pretty good care of his tools, but since it is a garden tool I worry it might rust quickly.  

Is this something I should worry about, and if so is there some kind of coating/treatment I can do at home?

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Rust preventative for garden tools? Get a drywall bucket, fill with dry sand, add motor oil (used if you are cheap thrifty like me). Stab tools into bucket two or three times after use, and wipe off before hanging them back up, neatly.

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