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I Forge Iron

Show me your garden tools.

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Don't see a garden tool category, so I'll throw this in here, although maybe it should be in "What did you do in the shop today" instead. Mr. Moderator please move it if need be. Thanks.

One of my sisters is a University-certified Master Gardener, who also teaches others. Her favorite all-around garden tool is the Japanese Hori Hori, but she uses her tools daily and hard, and has suffered a rash of broken/bent blades (from prying roots & stones) and poorly attached partial-tang handles that loosen up in use in the commercially available tools. Most popular variations appear to be rather cheaply made with blades stamped from stainless sheet metal, and they are infamous for having cheap and poorly attached partial tang handles. She asked me to make her a heavy use forged hori hori and forget making it pretty, just make it a bit oversized and make it tough. Making things that don't break and aren't pretty is right in my wheel house, so I finished this today. It's a full through-tang digging and prying tool, 15-3/4" long with a 10" blade, forged from 5/32" 1084 with scale left intact. It is about 2" longer and quite a lot thicker than the common versions. It's heavily front-weighted for chopping and digging, very sharp on both edges, and the serrations cut wood and roots quite well. The string/line cutter is also very sharp. Scales are riveted Koa. In keeping with the hori hori's evolution from a garden trowel, the blade curves slightly lengthwise, and is also forged concave in cross section for strength. I do not think she will break this one, and I hope she likes it.





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That looks like one serious: rock prying, root sawing, plant chopping, hole digging beast! Not pretty won't break eh? I guess that depends on your definition of beauty, personally I'm a function over form kind of guy so something that does what it's supposed to well is beautiful. 

Have you given it a name? How about: "Mistress, (your sister's name here) 's Weed Bane"

I hope you're ready to start filling orders. A general product model/name could be the "Rock Picker."

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • Mod30 pinned this topic

Thanks for the nice comments. It is a beast of an implement, and should not be carelessly wielded, so I really should probably make a sheath. Never tried a wooden one, so what the heck, maybe I'll do that. Actually, the 1/2" brass tube lined hole in the handle is intended for hanging it on a nail in the potting shed or wherever, but it is pretty heavy and extremely sharp so should probably have something for a sheath. I'll also have to warn her that it's carbon steel, and like a horse should not be put up wet. Till now I'd never heard of one of these things, but they make a lot of sense, and apparently are very popular among the gardening set. However, some online research reveals a lot of QA problems with broken & bent blades, loose handle rivets, etc with the mass produced units. I already have my first order, the XYL (wife for non-ham radio folks) wants one!

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I’ve used the Hori-Hori  but it tends to be tough on my wrist. My favorite is the chopper style. The wood handled version was made from approx 5” of 1 1/4” breaker bit, forged and normalized. I do all my weeding, as well as planting small perennials, ground covers and bulbs with it. I took it on the job everyday. (I was a landscape contractor).

The 1 piece chopper was made from ~ 5” of 1” rebar that I dug up at a job. It was more of a forging experiment, but it has good balance and gets used every so often.



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Good sources for very useful and, often,  non-traditional gardening tools can be found in:

Lee Valley's gardening tool catalogue,  and,  also,

the Japan Tool catalogue.

The latter company has recently been acquired by Woodcraft Corporation.

There are all manner of implements that I had never encountered before.  (like a Hori-Hori  etc., etc.).

There may be a considerable market for bespoke gardening tools for such enthusiasts.  (items of sophisticated snobbery,  for the well moneyed green thumb set!).

And also, tools that are real time and energy savers for us.


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A lot of specialized Japanese gardening tools have become more known and available in the last fifty years, in North America, Europe, and elsewhere.

Many of their tools go back hundreds of years, in Japan and Asia.

One good example are Japanese saws that cut on the pull stroke as opposed to the push stroke, of occidental saws.


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You mean like the pit saws used to saw boards out in Europe and America before the circular saws took over?  The concept seems to have been known in the west;  I wonder if the greater availability of iron and steel led to Europe/America going to the heavier "push" blades in hand saws?  I rather like the crosscut saws I've used that cut in both directions!  I've done a bunch of slotting in guards pulling a thin hacksaw blade with a bolt through the mounting hole in my earlier years.

Hmm 20 buzzards are circling around outside my building---I wonder if they know something I don't? Got a weather alert for ping pong ball sized hail that's supposed to hit just about quitting time. Just the "added touch" needed for our town's annual celebration tonight!

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  • 4 months later...

All right , this is our typicall hatchet foe construction working and it can appl ly for garden, when you need to sharpen poles for tomatos, or beans etc.

This hatchet have claws , wich is typical Bosnian axe.

Eye is European style (wich mean shape is not oval, because we use this side sometimes to drive nails)

It had old (new)handle, but I changed it with my seasoned hornbeam handle, wich I hewn by hand.

head is drawn out by blacksmith because here when you buy axe , you need to take it to smith, so he can heat treat and "peen"   it as sycthe I had topic about that "peening axe" stuf.






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  • 5 months later...

I've shared these in the past but Ill add them here since it's garden tool related.

Here are a few shovels I've made in the past there have been several more but I didn't take any pictures of those




And a couple hand rakes. I think you can probably tell which was v1 (before getting help from Frosty) and which was v2 (after getting help from Frosty).



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