A Measured Snow Shovel Improvment

An improvised repair yields a surprisingly useful enhancement

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The search for a replacement snow shovel wear bar was going no where due to a lack of materials. Eventually a source overlooked was discovered that not only fixed the immediate problem, but added a new feature that was so obviously lacking.

What started as a hack so simple and obvious, uncovered a serendipitous solution that might inspire similar hacks. As those of us who deal with clearing paths thru snow for any length of time know, a snow shovel eventually wears out. Modern inexpensive shovels are made of light weight plastic with a metal wear bar at the bottom edge. Without the sharp metal edge of the wear bar, a plastic snow shovel does a very poor job of pushing snow off the pavement. And of course to encourage new purchases, no snow shovel maker or hardware store provides a replacement wear bar.

No respectable Hack-a-day Reader could throw away such a tool with good conscience, without attempting to hack up a replacement wear bar. Without a machine shop or source of light weight metal stock, finding a metal source is the problem. Snow shovels originally come with a galvanized steel edge that is riveted with steel rivets. Some hardware stores had various heavy pieces of steel stock that would have required a massive effort to cut to size. Repeated scrounging around at scrap metal piles was unsuccessful. Finally, while re-measuring the shovel with a metal yardstick I realized that such a yardstick would make a perfect wear bar. I didn't want to sacrifice my favorite straight edge, so I went out to get another less expensive one ($2.99) made of aluminum alloy. While cutting it to size, I intended to hide the gradations so only the blank side would show. But here is where the serendipity part comes in; what is the first question everyone asks when faced with fresh snow fall? "How deep is the snow?" A perfect solution would be to have a shovel with a built in ruler, so of course the gradations should be visible!

Cutting the ruler to size and riveting it in place is pretty straightforward (pun intended). I used older style rivets that were hammered down over a vise without bending the edge too much. A concern was that the aluminum edge would wear much quicker than the steel, but after a season of heavy use, it seems as if it will last at least a couple more years.

My demonstrated metal skills on version 1.0 were not professional. Either the holes were drilled inaccurately or the Thor-like riveting caused a bit of waviness at one end, so now at the end of season one, there was uneven wear that scrapped through some ruler markings at one end. But overall, the experiment was a major success. It worked and everyone I showed the enhanced shovel wanted one. Even one neighbor with a snow blower wanted to add a ruler to the side of it.

  • 1 × An aluminum alloy yard stick, cut to size and edges trimmed with a hack saw.
  • 1 × Several old style steel rivets (on right side of photo)
  • 1 × A few new style rivets (left side) that were less satisfactory.

  • 1
    Step 1

    The location of the drill holes turns out to be more critical than I thought. I tried to match the existing holes in the shovel, but apparently I must have slightly flexed either the shovel or ruler while measuring. This caused the end result to be slightly uneven, instead of a precision edge. This did not cause the shovel to fail, just that the wearing caused some areas of the ruler to disappear before the others.

  • 2
    Step 2

    I used a work bench vise to hammer the old rivets down.  Thought about using easier to get and use bolts, but they stuck out to much. Rivets work better and are easily replaceable if (when) they wear out.

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Raukk wrote 06/13/2014 at 13:38 point
I think this is a great way to extend the life of a shovel, and it should be easy enough for anyone to do. Good Job on a Good Hack!

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