Replacing a broken handle on your outdoor tools

This week, our Jill of All Trades, Jill Washburn, shows us how to swap out a broken handle on a garden tool for a new one. Jill says that it's not that hard.

First you have to select a handle. There are a couple of different kinds. If you're not sure which one you need, bring your broken tool to the hardware store or big box store with you. They will help you match what you've got. Jill says to choose a handle with the straightest grain that you can find. A handle with straight grain is less likely to break.

Now it's time to get down to business. The first thing that you will have to do is remove the old handle (or what is left of it). Some are riveted to the shovel head, some are held on by nails. You should be able to pull out the nails. 

If they're really in there solidly, or if it's actually a rivet, you'll have to grind off the head. Don't be intimidated, says Jill. It's not as hard as you might think. It only takes a minute or two to grind through that head.  

Then you can take a nail punch and push it through. Again, it's not that hard. Once that's done, you should be able to pull the shovel head off. If it's an older shovel, you may have to smack it with a hammer a few times to get it to break loose.

Once it's off, you're ready to set it on a new handle. Jill says to insert the end of the new handle into the neck of the shovel head, then hold the neck and smack the handle end on the ground so that it drives the handle further into the neck of the shovel head. Once you drive it in, it's time to add fasteners, to keep it there.

Jill chose not to use the rivets that came with the handle because most people don't have the tools to fasten those. 

Another option is to drill a hole through the handle and put a bolt through it with a locking washer and nut. It'll hold great, but it may get in the way a bit, if you use your foot on the shovel. 

Jill chose to drive wood screws in on each side of the neck. It was the fastest and easiest option. Jill drilled a narrow pilot hole first, so that the screw would go in easier. Then she just drove them in. That process was quick, easy, and worked really well.

That's it! You're ready to tackle more projects out in the yard!

Jill did say that there is not much of a cost savings with replacing a handle. A new handle will cost $9.00 - $11.00. A new shovel will run $9.00 - $30.00. Depending on the quality of tool that you need, it may be easier to just go buy a new shovel. Still, Jill is happy with the choice to replace the handle on hers.


To watch Jill take you through the handle replacement process, just click on the video player above.