About this blog

My photo
Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Fork handle (just the one)

I have a hand fork for gardening that has just two prongs, both somewhat pointed. I've no idea where I got it from because it never would have occurred to me to buy such a thing, but it turns out to be incredibly useful for weeding in stony ground. Recently, I have mostly been using it for transforming the garden path.

About eighteen months ago, years of neglect took their toll on the handle and it fell apart. I then lost the metal part, before rediscovering it some time later, still stuck in the ground. Onwards a few months to the new terrace I made last January, and I had quite a few offcuts of oak left over. I wondered... maybe I could use one of those to make a new handle?

I chose the thickest piece and cut it to length. Most of the work I did with a small, sharp craft knife, starting with taking off the bark. Before I started on shaping the handle, I took a chisel to the end, and trimmed it down so it would fit into the small collar on the fork.

Trimming the handle to fit into the collar

Once I had that trimmed down to size, I set to work whittling the main part of the handle into a comfortable shape to hold. I enjoyed this bit. The next bit was not quite so much fun; I had to make a hole for the metal part to fit into. Not fancying my chances of controlling an electric drill, I used a gimlet, which was effective but slow. I may have run out of patience and tried to fit the two parts together before the hole was quite finished. Of course, once I'd smacked the metal bit in as far as it would go (not quite far enough), I couldn't get it out again

The two parts fitted together

As you can see, the metal section sticks out some way before opening out into the two tines. This means the collar is free to move up and down a bit. As I slammed the metal into place, a couple of small cracks opened up in the wood, but they didn't split the handle open.

There's a small crack visible here.

To finish, I coated the wood liberally in a wax polish - I think it was beeswax melted into linseed oil, which sets surprisingly hard. I paid particular attention to the cracks, filling them so that dirt wouldn't get in and maybe enlarge them.

As well as being very satisfying to make something like this, even if I didn't do it quite as well as I'd have liked, the result is a tool that's a real pleasure to use. Because I held it in my hand to check it as I went along, I have something made exactly to fit my hand. Also, the wax polish has a lovely feel to it. After a good deal of work on the garden path, the fork handle now looks well used.

Perhaps the muddy finish doesn't feel quite so nice to hold as the wax.

I should probably clean it up and give it another coat of polish.


  1. Impressive! I repaired a pitchfork handle using some epoxy wood filler, but never would have thought to actually construct a new one. Congrats!

    1. I think the idea might have come from the opposite direction, as in, "Can I find a use for these nice bits of oak?"


I don't know why Facebook thinks this is the most interesting text on the page - it's not, I assure you!

If you'd like to leave a comment, but it asks you to "Comment as" a load of options that don't relate to you, choose "Name/URL". You can type in your name and leave the URL blank.

Do leave a comment (unless the main point of your comment is to advertise your business, in which case it will be deleted). It's always nice to know I'm not talking to myself ;-)