The idea to start this project emerged when I snapped the handle of the spade shovel that’s been in the backyard through each of the four season for each of the past dozen or so years.
But the root of the project goes back more than 30 years when my Dad gave me a tool box he had built out of some pretty nice Douglas fir 1X6. It wasn’t like a gift for a birthday or a rite of passage. As I recall, I said something like, “Hey nice tool box.” And he said, “Take it. I can build another just like it in about a half-hour.”
I’m not sure if he did build another one — or anything else, for that matter. Not long after that, he was diagnosed with the disease that would claim his life.
The Douglas fir box has stayed with me ever since. Sometimes in use, sometimes in the way, sometimes — or at least one time — an easy target for gnawing that tempted a bored and curious puppy.
In fact, the gnawed-up section would stay gnawed up for several years before I decided it repair it and give it a shine awhile back while I was supposed to be cleaning and reorganizing the garage.
The new model pictured at the top of this post looks older than the one Pop gave me all those years ago. It’s the latest use for some of the oakwood pallets I’ve found here and there since just before Christmas when I rescued the one that became a couple of whiskey and wine racks.
I sawed the trunk just above ground and rather than drown it garden poison that would threaten the roses, I grabbed the weathered spade and pressed it deep into the dirt. Without a great force of leverage, the wood handle snapped pretty cleanly just above the spade’s metal collar.
A newer, stronger shovel was brought in to free the hackberry root ball. But the grayed-out busted handle of the old one wasn’t ready for the fire pit.
The patina of the shovel handle matched that of the pallet lumber I had cleaned free of nails and splinters sometime around spring break. The gnawed-up end of Pop’s old tool box provided a pattern for the ends of the pallet incarnation.
All of the wood required quite a bit of sanding to smooth it out. It’s a symmetric project, (well, sort of symmetric) so the cuts were not complicated. A few coats of spray varnish will lock in the weathered appearance.
So it came together easily. Good as old.