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 the video above to find out more.


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.

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avatar for Joe Truini

Joe Truini

Radio Show Co-Host

Joe Truini is a contractor, author, and the host of “Simple Solutions” on Today’s Homeowner TV and the weekly Today’s Homeowner radio show. He has worked on both large commercial projects and residential remodeling, and has written for national publications such as This Old House and Popular Mechanics. He has also written eight books, including three best-selling shed-building books. Joe lives in Connecticut with his family and enjoys hiking, traveling, and baseball in his spare time.

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