How to Replace a Wooden Shovel Handle the Right Way

Wooden shovel handle with the straight grain of the wood facing up.
Wooden shovel handle with the straight grain of the wood facing up.

When buying a shovel with a wooden handle, it’s important to choose a shovel that has the grain of the wood oriented so the straight grain is facing up. The same is true when replacing a broken shovel handle.

Look at the grain on the end of the handle, and make sure the tree rings are vertical so they’re perpendicular to the shovel blade.

This makes the handle much stronger and prevents breaking. Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Joe Truini: Replacing a wooden handle on a shovel is a simple enough job, so simple you don’t think there’d be a way to do it wrong. But there actually is a wrong way to do it, and it’s done wrong all the time.

If you take a look at a handle, you’ll see that there is face grain, identified by these oval patterns. Then there’s straight grain—nice parallel lines of grain. Now, if you install the handle this way, it’s much weaker than if you install it with the straight grain facing up.

It’s similar to a two-by-four. If you imagine a two-by-four on edge, how it’s very strong, has no flex, but a two-by-four on flat will bend. That’s the same principle why these handles will last longer if you put the straight grain up.

And if you don’t, this is the result. This is a shovel I was using earlier, and the handle snapped off. And if you look closely, you’ll see why. Here’s the face grain facing up. The manufacturer should have rotated it 90 degrees so the straight grain would be facing up. This handle would have lasted a lot longer.

So the trick to remember is whenever you’re replacing a wooden handle on any tool, always put the straight grain facing up.


  1. In the video “How to Replace a Wooden Shovel Handle the Right Way” you say to always install the wood handle on any tool with the straight grain facing “up”–clarification should be made as to what “up” means, i.e. that the surface of the plane tangent to the surface of the handle at the point of the straight grain is perpendicular to the applied force (or equivalently that the direction faced by the surface of the straight grain portion of the handle or of an arrow coming perpendicularly off the surface of the straight grain portion is parallel to the applied force).

    For example, a weed cutter/grass whip should have the straight grain oriented toward the front/back of the direction of swing (i.e., towards one of the long blade edges), not toward the short ends of the blade–this clarification is important, as if someone holds the tool “up” in front of them they most likely will hold it up with the long edges of the blade held vertically/facing left & right, which would result with the “up” side of the handle being the side facing the short end of the blade vs. the long front or back edge; orienting the straight grain “up” in this case would erroneously orient it perpendicular to the direction of the swing and thus to applied force.

  2. Good evening, ladies and gentleman: I was disappointed to find the video was only 58 sec, which doesn’t at all include a step by step replacement of a shovel handle.

    The title should be completely changed if the content is all the video allows.

    If you have a video or narrative with slides to show someone how to actually replace a shovel handle, please forward the link to me.

    Thank you.


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