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DIY Wheelbarrow Handles

DIY Wheelbarrow Handles

"Value-added living" is a common phrase one of my mentors used to say to me on a regular basis.  His teaching point was for us to find ways to develop new skills or enhance old ones in daily life.  One way that NRS Instructor Tracy Trimble does this is by doing woodworking.  Tracy regularly makes bowls, vases, spoons, furniture, and assorted other woodworking crafts that he sells. 

So what does a person like Tracy do when one of the arms of his wheelbarrow break?  Well, Tracy just makes new one. I am not saying he goes to the home improvement store and buys some lumber.  He makes the arms from a tree!   In this series of comments and photos, sent to us by Tracy, he walks us through the process that he took to make some new ones.  Enjoy!

Broken wheelbarrow handle.  

The initial solution was to apply some sister support to the broken area – which worked – but more stress points were beginning to show.

I’ve been clearing some trees/brush for a raised garden area and had dropped this scarlet oak with Craig a couple of days prior.  Donnie Brown is making the initial cut for the blank slab.


 Almost complete with the slab.


I took a straight edge to mark the new blanks.  The handles are sketched slightly larger than needed and will be shaped down to the correct size.  I used the heartwood staying away from the sapwood and pith areas. 

Roughed out the handle blanks with my Husqvarna chainsaw.

The original handles were disassembled and will be used as templates. 

Shaping was completed using my bandsaw and a Stanley #5 plane to finalize and smooth the handle to size.

Shaping is finished.  I will use the original handles to mark and drill the screw holes. 

Used a draw knife to shape the handholds.  This is a Pine Knot draw knife that I purchased off eBay and reshaped the iron.  You can pick vintage draw knives for as little as $20.  Just reshape the cutting blade and you have a fine tool for years to come.  

Handles are mostly finished.

A few polyurethane applications and reassembled - ready to use.

I am quite sure Tracy could have bought new handles, or even a new wheelbarrow, but there is so much value in doing projects like this here are just a few:

  • Doing work like this is exercise so it helps you to be healthy.
  • Satisfaction in utilizing something you made with your own hands.  Even if only part of it, like in this project. 
  • Learn more about trees by working with wood in which you need to look and know about wood grains, patterns, etc.
  • Take portions of trees that don't have other uses and put them to use.  


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