Gardening advice
Maintaining and replacing handles for garden tools

Maintaining and replacing handles for garden tools

Simple but regular maintenance for wooden and fibreglass handles

The handle forms the link between the working part of the tool (made of iron) and the user. The choice of handle is as important as the choice of the right tool.

Choose tools with a handle attached by means of a screw instead of a nail or put a screw in place of the nail, it will be much easier for you to change the handle when the time comes. If you choose a iron head with an oblong socket, it will be easy for you readjust the handle when the wood dries. 

To maintain wooden and fibreglass handles simply store away from direct sunlight and damp. Although the handle is varnished, we recommend that you use sandpaper regularly to remove any splinters.

Maintenance is also, and above all, an opportunity to look at the handle carefully to anticipate any risk of breaking.

What are the risks when a tool handle breaks?

Leborgne wooden handles have a hygrometric level of 16% which ensures perfect fitting between the socket and the handle. This percentage is the best compromise between wood that is too dry which increases the risk of breakage and wood which is not dry enough which could lead to loose fitting in the socket if the tool is placed in a hot, dry place for a long period.

The vast majority of our wooden handles are made from eucalyptus. Thanks to the high density of fibres, this wood has  mechanical characteristics which are particularly suitable for making handles for hand tools. Tools for digging such as digging forks and striking tools such as sledgehammers need robust handles in order to resist against bending stress  and shocks due to mis-hits.  Breaking tests show that eucalyptus has resistance 15% to 20% higher than handles made of ash or beech which are widespread on the market.

When a handle breaks, it is not necessarily dangerous but it often happens suddenly and may cause the user to lose balance or fall. In some circumstances there is a risk of the iron head of the tool flying off and hitting the user or a person in the immediate vicinity.

Remember that a good quality handle, whether it is made of wood or composite material (fibreglass) will always be more reliable and robust and will last longer than a cheap tool handle.

How to take care that a handle does not break when working?

We advise you to carry out regular checks on the handle, in particular after a mis-hit, so that you can reject it or if necessary, change the handle.

We consider that a wooden handle which has lost a third of its diameter should be changed. in the same way if there are cracks on the outer sheath of a fibreglass handle it should also be changed.  Nevertheless the latter will have a much longer life than wooden handles.

A good handle can limit the traumatic effects relating to repetitive and prolonged gestures

Apart from direct injuries caused by a handle breaking in the middle of an action, backache and MSD (musculo-skeletal disorders) are the two pathologies that you are most likely to suffer from if you use the same tool very regularly and for a long time.

These problems cannot be avoided but you can limit their effects by following the advice below :

· Do not use tools with handles where finger hold have been moulded or engraved because they suit only one type of hand and for all the other types extra pressure is required.

· Choose handles whose surface has sufficient grip to reduce the pressure required, when working in the rain, for example.

· Wear gloves which fit your hand perfectly   and with a good grip comparable to grip with bare hands

· And above all,  do not hesitate to change the handle if the original length does not suit you.

Changing a handle yourself, yes, but….

At first sight you may think it is easy to change a tool handle yourself. Nevertheless, bear in mind that incorrect  fitting between the iron head and the handle can seriously diminish the effectiveness of the tool.

The iron head and the handle can be fitted together by means of a nail or a screw: this job must be done carefully to avoid the iron head coming off the handle.

When in doubt take your iron head to the store and ask for advice or ask an experience person.

We do not advise you to fit some special handles yourself, such as the shank or wedge handles for example, because they are very technical and difficult to fit without specific tools.