A Good Shovel


Just a short one for today. I was thinking this blog is about hand tools right? How about one that gets used before all of a structure can be built? This is a shovel my father picked up in Iceland. Its probably not too terrible old, but it has a pattern that you don’t see much these days. In lieu of a complicated forging process for the plate they use an extra riveted strap to attach the blade to the handle. It must be a decent design because its lasted all this time, traveling to Spain with us and then back to the US, from the moist east coast of Virginia to the dry sub-alpine mountains of Colorado.

I don’t want to get too eloquent in writing about it, it’s just a shovel. But it gives that simple kind of satisfaction to see something well made that has lasted, and been thought well enough of to be taken care of.  Thanks Dad.


Here is the work the shovel was engaged in. The foundation for a greenhouse, 21′ x 48′.  This being Colorado we’ll probably get a few curious glances from the neighbors regarding the cultivation of cannabis and whatnot. All joking aside it is for growing food! Perennial food and fuel stock.  Ever heard of Seaberry (Hippophae)? Well you will when it’s the next superfood craze, the citrus of the north. Maybe then you will want to buy a couple of plants from me, they’re hardy as hell. There are a lot of things I want to try as far as timber, specifically Black Locust, but some of the other stuff you plant but may not be alive when it is ready to harvest.

“A society prospers when old men plant trees under whose shade they know they will never sit.”           -Jack Spirko

Pretty awesome if you ask me, to think long term, for the woodworker that will come after you. I imagine how I would feel if my grandfather or great grandfather had planted a forest for me to have use of. Planting trees, especially in fragile climates like mine, is always a worthwhile act. Don’t wait to be an old man, you have more energy now. Haha, you could be hit by a  proverbial gravel truck tomorrow, don’t let people say you only cut trees down. You tend to care more about the quality of the timber resource when you know you’ll be dead before the really good stuff is mature, kinda takes personal greed out of the equation.


Here I’m planing out the 1/4″ panels that were glued together previously. I keep on looking at it thinking, this fuigo is going to be pretty…and pink! It’ll darken over time, let us hope to more muted and calming tones. I brought my planing board up on my sawhorses and propped it at an incline to plane these wide panels. I gave myself 1/8″ of extra wood above finished dimension and I’ll need it. These thin panels, you look at them and they warp a little. If I leave a little bow in, the problem is the solution, it needs to be bowed.

I need a 75mm kanna! The joinery is soon, these panels are the last and then out come the saws. Oh wait, I need to make a large kebiki for marking the panel width. I suppose one of these days I’ll have all the tools I need, right? How boring would that be.

4 thoughts on “A Good Shovel”

  1. Guessing your making an above ground greenhouse? Make sure to keep us updated on that!

    Your fuego is probably going to look and work amazingly. Mine is made out of recycled plywood, panneling, and pallet wood… its going to need a ton of paint. Also going to need to pump it a lot, its 20″ long instead of the average 40″ long. Hoping to find a hand cranked bellows, right now the thing isn’t putting out much air at all.

    That quote always reminds me of my grandparents. When they first bought their current house, they planted a ton of walnuts, spruce, and other trees as a long term investment.

    1. Thanks for the comment Steve! I’d love it if it was quartersawn beech…it can seem like more trouble than it is worth to use such cheap lumber at times.

  2. Ah ha. I wondered what happened to that shovel. I thought a guy I rented to for a while had taken it and lost it, as he was always “borrowing” tools from me for the fly-by-night jobs he did. I still have another one like it, tho the blade is wider and the blade length has been shortened by wear and re-grinding I think. I have used it here in Norfolk, VA for the occasional snow we have. I prefer it to a snow shovel because it can’t scope as much snow, thus lighter and not so much effort for ol dad. Nice pic of Lilly with the shovel. I used Snipping Tool and pasted it into a Word doc, so preserved in my files. Thanks for the acknowledgement. Enjoy the blog but can’t keep up, so just move them into the Gabe folder. Keep up the good work. Dad

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