So last week I was up at Lassen IHC doin' the "Don't be that guy" thing & after Sherman came up and said "Check this out.." He'd gotten a bunch of some kind of hoe handles which are longer than the standard ax ones- (48" vs. 36") Wanted to rehandle a bunch of 'pocnas. How to attach the handles tho... He had one idea, I had another. So we're both gonna do it & see which one works better. My main concerns are: The handle freakin' stays solid as nothin's worse than the loooooong walk back to the rigs to get another tool, and the handle is easily replacable in the field. Sometimes they just break. Don't know why, you hit a rock or something and "clink" handle's busted. If that's gonna happen, usually does about the third time the tool is swung- And all your "let's get this handle in perfectly" work was for not.
So I brought the parts home- Here's how I did it. You can make your own or send me the parts & I can do it.
First I made a mold & cast the handle in lead- So I didn't damage the real handle in the following trials.
I found that 2 1/2" iron pipe can be formed almost Perfectly into an eye for the handle- So I picked up a "close" nipple. Have to admit if I was to do this for multiple tools tho I'd just buy the pick(s), lop the pick parts off & weld the eye onto the bowl. Much easier. Gettin' the pipe to *just* the right shape was a bit tedious.. Heat it with the torch, cromp it in the vice, test it, heat it again, crimp s'more in the right spot.. test again.. Annoying.
Anyway, I knew one side wound have to shrink & the other would have to be made into an oval. So I cut the slits with the band-saw then chucked it in the vice & made the oval.
It's hard to get the cuts even on the band-saw, so I tried the sawzall, had to chop down a metal blade to do it, but it's difficult to hold the nipple in the vice & cut. (can be a suprise when it let's loose and goes flying..) Then I tried the plasma, but it's hard to cut straight, and getting the slag off of the inside is a bitch. Plus the plasma makes wider gaps than the saws- Can be a bit hard to fill in later.
You can see where I cut the pipe nipple a bunch of times so I could "shrink" it down around the smaller part of the handle. I got it placed juuuuust right, then tacked it in 3 places, put the handle in to be sure, then ran a bead around the whole thing. (after I took the handle back out so I didn't burn the hell out of it.) Came back later & thickend up that weld- I don't want the eye getting stress-cracks in the welds and coming off someday.
Here it is with the piece of lead I used to form the shrinkage. Just put the lead in there & tapped it round & round on the anvil.
Note the "front" of the nipple where one finger is sticking forward- 2 reasons. Makes space so the rest can be "shrunk" down over the handle, and protects the whole eye from rock damage.
Test fit the handle, make sure all is straight..
And that it's right where it needs to be in the eye..
Weldin' up the slits- Be sure to tack them on the top-side or they'll open as you weld coz of the heat & throw off the alignment.
Can't weld the blade on to the "front" else the handle won't clear as there's no way to grind the welds down far enough. Note how I had to cut through the blade all the way at the top to get the handle in-
Wanted to keep the blade stiff, so I cut a piece of 3/8" (i think) plate steel & put it across the top.
Smoothed the edges, ground down the corners to match the arc of the blade.. Sweet. Replaces a little of the weight lost when I cut the hole for the handle.
Ready-Set-Go! It's a loose fit, but I think with some epoxy and maaaaybe a pin (16 penny nail?) through the eye (haven't drilled the hole yet) that handle will be in there damn near forever. Or till it gets broken- If / when that happens, toss the whole thing in a hot-spot, burn the handle & epoxy out, then put in a new one in camp that night. Easy.
Or, if saving the temper on the blade is a concern, drill & beat the old handle out, round-file the epoxy that's left down & throw in a new handle. Not as easy, but can be done on the side of the road.
So if you need someting kind of strange tell me about it and I'll see what I can come up with. I'll probably need some example parts as it's a little hard to find good sacrificial tools (Irish made shovels for example) out here in the civilian world.