Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter
Your arms are your greatest asset when gardening, so choose and use your tools wisely to keep them protected: it's all handles, grips, tool joints and maintenance. Put down your pitchforks and flaming torches and read our valuable advice...
- Fitting type
What are the key features of a garden tool handle?
Garden tools are many and varied - essential both for weeding and loosening soil and when preparing soil for sowing.
Choosing a garden tool handle is easy - there are three main selection criteria to keep in mind: material, length and joint type.
Choose wisely on these three aspects, and you'll greatly enhance your working comfort and minimize blisters and lower back pain resulting from long hours of toil!
What material to choose?
Wood has the definite advantage of lending a timeless look, as well as being versatile and typically low in cost. Different varieties (ash, beech, pine, boxwood, acacia, etc.) are suited to different uses.
Famed for their durability, antimicrobial properties, robustness and lightness. Can be divided into three groups: fibreglass, resin and polypropylene.Fibreglass and tri-material alloys
Lightweight, ultra shock-resistant. Fibreglass and tri-material alloys are perfect for striking and levering tools.
Very robust if the handle is solid, but in this case also quite heavy.
Ultra-lightweight but less robust.
Lightweight, durable and suitable for connecting multi-purpose attachments.
Note that ergonomic handles are available in some materials to improve comfort and grip.
What length to choose?
Obviously the length of the handle will depend on the type of tool.
Choose a rake with a 90 rather than 150cm handle and your lower back will never forgive you!
Thankfully, handles are generally sold for specific tools - so the lengths are fit for purpose.
How to fix the tool head to the handle?
...With the sap of a maple tree, extracted on the night of the full moon to imbue it with cosmic energy... If that doesn't work, you've got choice a of 4 standard fitting types.
Inverted self-locking fitting
For striking and digging tools. The profile of the handle is tapered from one end to the other, so that the tool head can be locked in position by mechanical resistance (i.e. on a hoe) or by the centrifugal force generated by wide swinging actions (i.e. on a pick).
This type of fitting requires a fixing joint, since it lacks a specific means of locking.
The socket acts as a female connector on the tool head, into which a conical-ended handle is inserted. With this type of fitting, don't forget to clamp the tool head down firmly on the handle.
For certain types of multi-purpose handles only.
Caution! The shape and diameter of the hole in the tool head must match the handle exactly.
Extensions and multi-purpose handles
Here we're talking additional features. For example, you'll find universal handle extensions, telescopic handles (up to 5m for tree pruners); hinged, waterproof (for watering inaccessible areas) and even ergonomic handles suitable for push / pull movements or enabling you to use trimming shears at ground level from a standing position.
Always make sure you choose a handle which is compatible with your tool head; fittings in particular may vary from one brand to another.
A word about maintenance
Remember that your choice of handle depends heavily on the nature of work you want to do, the durability you expect and your budget. To avoid disappointment, pay attention to fitting systems when combining heads and handles!
To maintain your garden tools in good working order, the best solution is simply to give them a decent bath now and again. This is exactly what a workshop cleaning machine does, when used with a suitable biodegradabledetergent, to remove dirt and grease.
Sharpening cutting tools before winter storage will allow you to enjoy top performance for years to come.
Learn more about gardening tools...
To find out more about gardening tools, follow our editors' advice and check out their other guides:
- How to choose your potting soil?
- How to choose your drip irrigation?
- How to choose your chalet or garden shed?
Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter, 198 guides
Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check.Advise Mister everybody in the DIY shop? Check.Redo the bathroom plumbing? Check.Fit together, build the walls, paint a partition, throw my hammer in a rage thinking that it will fix the problem? Check. The DIY motto ? Learning is better than delegating… well, it's also a question about your wallet! The satisfaction? The beer at the end of the job! What do the best have in common? The influence of Gyro Gearloose, Mac Gyver and Carol Smiley depending on your generation, a good dose of curiosity, a average hand-eye coordination and a taste for risks… and if it doesn't work, try again! Advise you? I'll do my best!