Putting an antique hoe head back to work

This year, we’re growing a small cash crop, to show the children how to take an idea and make it real, to sell it to the public. So tomatoes it will be. We had a new hoe, but it broke, so I decided it would be another good project with the kids to repair an old one I’ve had around for years. Here’s a picture of it, in its rusted state.I have some Ash wood poles, that I made from a plank I bought from a local sawmill. I planned on using them to make a Tepee or tent with the kids, but I think we’ll do the tent. the poles are nearly 2 inches by 2 inches, by 8 feet long.

I selected the worst one, reasoning that I only needed part of it. One end had a little bend, the other end had a little knot. I chose the knot over the bend, because the knot was near the surface, and, the tool head, which is where the stress will be, could be placed at the other end. Also, the left over piece might make a shorter handle, or a club. In the picture below, you can see both pieces, after I cut them apart. With them in the picture is a 4 inch angle grinder. If you’re interested in becoming a do it yourself guy, this should be one of your first tools. On it, I mounted a strange looking metal disk tool; the disk has little bits adhered to it, probably industrial diamond. I bought the attachment because it was cheap, and I was curious. It works very well.

Next is a close up of the last picture. You can see that the wood is 8 sided before I use this tool. Note that while the tool removes wood quickly, it also leaves some deep scratches in the wood, which will need to be sanded out. An important note about tool handle making: the most important thing is to use a piece of wood that has the same wood grain going in one end, and out the other. In other words, the grain travels the length of the handle, instead of angling out to the edge. Once you make and use handles like that, you’ll see how inferior some store bought ones are. Below is a paint stirring stick that illustrates the point well. I was stirring thick red primer with this stick, and it broke along the wood grain. The paws belong to the grey kitten who was supervising the photo shoot.My two youngest sons helped with this project, here they are, sanding the scratch marks out.I made the cut for the wedge with a back saw, because it has less set, and makes a narrower kerf.Here I’m testing the fit of the head, after the pole was sanded. The supervisor is back.I’ve started using a section of rasp for a wedges. In the picture below, you’re looking down the threaded bar of a C clamp, which is holding a very rusted rasp. The 4 inch angle grinder has a regular grinding disk attached. I grind the taper into the piece of rasp, until the narrow end is severed away. I realized the rasp was too wide, so I put a cutting disk on the grinder, and cut it lengthwise. Now I have a small wedge too. I flipped it over and ground down some of the teeth on the course side.Lastly, I put a wire wheel on the 4 inch angle grinder, and cleaned off some of the rust. I prefer this to sandpaper, because this gets down into pits better, and doesn’t remove metal.Finally, I gave the head one coat of shellac, and the handle two coats of shellac. There is no paint on the head. Here’s the finished hoe out in the garden, where it will be used.