A Trio of Handmade Garden Tools

Scrap materials you can rustle up or might already have on hand, plus some mechanical aptitude, are all you need to assemble these three handmade garden tools.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
March/April 1983
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Our other homemade garden tools are too big to fit in this caddy, but it's great for small implements!

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For the really intrepid do-it-yourselfer and gardener, here are three handmade garden tools (complete with diagrams) to build in your home workshop.


Here's a triple-duty cultivating implement that shouldn't take more than a few minutes (and some loose change, and our Hoe Assembly Diagram) to put together. The business end consists of three replacement sickle-bar mower blades — which should be available from your local farm implement dealer for about a quarter apiece — welded together so the serrated edges face outward. A section of 3/8" cold-rolled rod is welded to this head, then the shaft's opposite end is ground to a point so it can readily be driven into an available tool handle. The metal collar on that staff (most old tool handles will still have this component in place) pinches the wood so the rod can't slip out. Depending on which edge faces downward, this handy item can serve as a hoe, a row marker, or a root cutter.

Hand Tool Caddy

More often than not, the tool you really need in the garden is the one you left back in the shed or house. But if you happen to have a few wood scraps and an old bucket handle lying around (and follow our Tool Caddy Assembly Diagram), you can whip together this simple carryall that'll help eliminate such problems in the future. The tray's walls are made from 1 x 6, trimmed down to about 4 3/4" in width. The bottom and center divider are 1/4" plywood, and the racks and compartment partition are 1/2" pine. The wire handle from a worn-out five-gallon plastic bucket can then be fastened to the ends of the box with screw eyes. If you don't want to be bothered with cutting the compound angles for the corner joints, you can simply butt the end boards to the sides. (And, of course, you should feel free to design your caddy to suit the tools that you're most likely to use.)

Seed Starter Case

Seed germination doesn't have to be a hit-or-miss proposition. In fact, given the right environment and healthy stock, a success rate of close to 100% is easily achievable. A lot depends, though, on temperature and humidity. You can assure proper levels of both by building the case detailed in our Sprouting Cabinet Assembly Diagram. Its four glass walls are held in place within grooves cut into an upper and lower redwood (or cedar) perimeter frame, and the glass lid is housed within its own separate casing. (A pair of hinges, a knob, and a side latch allow the cover to be lifted and held up.) Warmth is provided by an electric heat-tape array fastened to a piece of foil-backed foam insulation (these plug-in devices, generally available at nursery centers, will maintain a thermostatically controlled temperature of 72°F). A sheet-metal tray placed on top of the pad provides a platform for the peat medium used in the germination process. With the addition of seeds and a soaking mist, the box will serve as an ideal miniature nursery!

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