Tool handle repair, or how to fix a broken tamper handle

So I’m using a 10×10 tamper to help cram about 100 gallons worth of weeds into a 50 gallon sized garbage can. After about the third smash, OH SNAP! (pun intended) Broken tamper handle.  Here’s how I fix that broken tool handle.

This is what I’m looking at. No problem. Time for some tool handle repair.

OH SNAP!

 

Go and grab:

  • Cordless drill (you DO have a cordless drill, RIGHT?)
  • Spade bit (or paddle bit) that’s big enough to remove most of the broken handle. You’ll see.
  • BFH (Big F*cking Hammer)
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Saw (Sawzall (reciprocating saw) if you have one, and you should)

 

Step 1: Pull out the set nail.

Most large tools like this have a set nail that’s just a nail through a hole in the base that keeps the handle IN the tool. Pull it out.

Pull that nail out.

Hi, the department of redundancy department mandated that we show this picture of someone pulling the nail out even though it should be pretty obvious how to do this.

 

Step 2: Clean up that broken handle.

YES, you get to use your Sawzall for 3 seconds.

Saw off that broken part.

 

Step 3: Get the broken piece out.

Some of these tools also have a spike built into the base pointing up from the inside that the handle is pounded into that helps it stay in place as well. That also means when the handle breaks off it’s a real pain to get the broken piece out. The best way is just to drill out what you can and force the rest out.

Get a spade bit that will remove as much material as possible, the biggest bit in your kit is probably 1-inch, so use that.

1-inch spade bit ready to drill.

Drill it out.

 

Here’s what you’re left with.

Drilling done.

 

Now get your BFH (Big f*cking hammer) and the flathead screwdriver and whale away at it. As soon as you break off one piece the rest will come out in 2 seconds.

Whale on it.

 

Step 5: Shove the handle back in and nail it.

You’re almost done. Shove the handle back in and give it a couple whacks with the BFH to set it down into the base in case there’s a set spike in the bottom of the base. Then replace your set nail.

Replacing the set nail. This is a galvanized roofing nail. It came in this garage sale tamper. I’m not sure what would have been in here originally.

 

Step 6: Enjoy your manliness.

Done with the tool handle repair.

 

If it weren’t for the photo shoot this job is about 5 minutes. Of course now the handle is about 3 inches shorter, but it’s better than hucking it down to the hardware store and buying a new handle.

 

7 Comments

  • dave

    Thanks for the detailed instructions! I found your website while searching how to repair wooden tool handles but it looks like I found more than the answer to my current problem. Great site and I’ll surely be back often!

    – Dave

    Reply

  • Taylor P.

    Good piece– pretty much matches how I fixed my tamper. However, mine snapped further near the middle (internal weak spot), necessitating a new handle. Replacement was found– without too much online searching or store-calling– at a local Ace Hardware, for $12 and change including tax… won’t break the bank.

    Reply

  • Xtiantab

    Thanks for the detailed instructions. My handle snapped so I bought replacement handle, asked around the store for instructions. No one could exactly give me straight answer, I wasn’t sure if using glue was a good idea.

    Reply

  • Darrell

    My tamper handle broke in the same place, but it does not have a nail hole. The tamper handle hole is flared inside, being wider at the base. The fix is to cut a slot in the replacement handle and put a wedge with wood glue on it and drive the handle into the tamper.

    Reply

  • Jim Daire

    I bought 10″ x 10″ tamper ‘way back. Today the handle snapped off just as shown in your photos – right at the top of the metal neck of the tamper. I drilled and gouged and screwdrivered the wood from the tamper’s handle tube. This aged Yardworks tamper has no set nail/screw hole for handle-retention, so I thought I’d epoxy-glue the now-shorter wood handle into the tamper’s handle (what DO you call that neck-tube thingamajiggy anyhow? :-) Should I drill a set-nail/screw hole through the tamper’s handle tube in addition to using epoxy to hold the handle in place? Or should I cut a slot in the end of the shortened handle and use a wedge and epoxy glue?
    Thanks for taking the effort to produce this very helpful tutorial.

    Reply

    • Pete

      Hmmm, if you have the drill do drill a set screw… that’s what I’d do. That sounds easier to me than figuring out a wedge solution.

      Reply

  • Steve

    My tamper handle is loose, not broken. Now that I finished the job I want to remove the handle to put a wedge back in it and put epoxy in the hole before I tap the handle back in. BUT now I can’t get the handle out to fix it! Suggestions on how to remove, (maybe shrink) a wooden handle enough to make it slide back out? Hammering on the steel tamper did nothing. ANY ideas would be appreciated.

    Reply

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