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Modified turning fork for ergonomic reasons

 
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I have back problems, lifting a shovel full of dirt is not something I care to do unless I am actually moving the dirt from one place to another. For general gardening, I use turning forks. I can break up, fluff dirt, and add amendments without so much lifting. Somewhere along the line, many years ago, I realized I used the fork two different ways, and really needed two different tools.

I took the head off a fork, and turned it over. The curve to the handle now goes the other way.

So here are both forks the modified one is on the left, original is on the right, I posed them with their tines parallel to each other so you can see how the handles angle differently.



The original one is best for getting deep to loosen the soil, remove rocks etc. This is how my body bends when I have it so the tines are almost level (I have no face, but that blank spot is my head, I'm bent that far.)

How my body bends with the original fork


The modified one is best to come in after the original has gotten it loosened as deep as I want, to turn, add stuff etc. This is how my body bends when these tines are almost level. This hurts my back MUCH LESS.

How my body bends with the modified fork


I think this is a great way to modify a fork if you use it like I do, and don't want to have to bend so much. Worth thinking on!



 
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The smartness of what you did is evident. !!  It allows you to be able to choose the appropriate option — the efficient, comfortable one — whenever you want either.

You're on Staff here and may have a better awareness than I do, but I wonder if there's a thread bringing toegether hand-tool modifications? There are so many good practical threads on Permies.com that using the system's Search function seems to still leave many threads falling through the cracks. I've tried starting a number of theme-type threads where kindred ideas, having an essential similarity, could be posted to (or cross-posted to).

How do you see this?
 
Pearl Sutton
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Joel: not that I know of. Every time we try to make a thread that would cover a whole category it gets derailed into one or two specific things.
We have a gear forum, that's where most of the modifications end up. Or repair.

And yeah, I like my dual forks, they really don't get used the same ways. To me it's very much two different tools for two different jobs, and having only one of them seems silly. You can technically get a phillips head screw to go in with a a flat head screwdriver, doesn't make it the best tool for the job. And a normal fork is great for loosening deep and removing rocks, but that doesn't make it the best tool for fluffing in amendments.

:D
 
Joel Bercardin
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Joel: not that I know of. Every time we try to make a thread that would cover a whole category it gets derailed into one or two specific things.



Yes, on Web forums this "derailing" has sometimes been referred to as "highjacking". It's a bad habit, in my opinion.  It leads to a kind of chaotic profusion, because people soon feel they need to start a new thread on the stated, original topic.

But I can think of a number of thematic threads here on Permies where it has not happened.  I haven't investigated this issue to the point where I have any theory about why it hasn't occurred on those threads.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Joel Bercardin wrote:

Pearl Sutton wrote:Joel: not that I know of. Every time we try to make a thread that would cover a whole category it gets derailed into one or two specific things.



Yes, on Web forums this "derailing" has sometimes been referred to as "highjacking". It's a bad habit, in my opinion.  It leads to a kind of chaotic profusion, because people soon feel they need to start a new thread on the stated, original topic.


I think it's a great habit, and one of the things I love most about Permies. We don't stick to just one narrow thing, that makes people toss out neat thoughts that make the rest of us think more. I often learn more from the discursions than then from the original questions. It's called brainstorming, and I LOVE it.

And incidentally, this has highjacked the fork thread into a new place....  :D
 
Pearl Sutton
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It might be interesting to have a thread that is an index to hand tool modifications.
Format it something like:

Turning fork: modified for better ergonomics https://permies.com/t/153048/purity/Modified-turning-fork-ergonomic-reasons#1198299

Saw: modified for longer reach (URL of the post where it is, the specific post, rather than the whole thread.)

But personally, if I wanted to modify a saw and didn't know how, I'd look up "saw" not "hand tools"

:D

Edit: And if you, or anyone else reading this wants to do this, PM me and I'll make it so you can keep editing the first post as you need to add more items to it.

:D
 
Joel Bercardin
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Yes, I get your point. When I posted the idea of a modified-tool thread, maybe that wasn't so bad... but I guess I've derailed the thread. My apologies. Since you're on Staff, maybe you could delete any of my posts that have detracted from the thread you started.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Joel Bercardin wrote:Yes, I get your point. When I posted the idea of a modified-tool thread, maybe that wasn't so bad... but I guess I've derailed the thread. My apologies. Since you're on Staff, maybe you could delete any of my posts that have detracted from the thread you started.



No. I was laughing when I typed that. I'm fine with the derail. It might turn into someone making an index, and that would rock.
No one has had much to say about the forks, they are kinda not something you can comment on easily.
No harm, no foul, and I'm amused by it all.  This is brainstorming. This is what I like :D
And check my edit above, we were posting at the same time.
 
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Yes to some sort of "wiki" about tool mods - ergonomics fit to the actual human using the tool is important.

We went to the trouble to buy an extra long "D" handle to install on a fork for solving a mulched animal housing problem. By the time the handles arrived (it took two tries as although the company had them in their listing, it was such a weird request that things got garbled) I'd found a different solution, so instead of installing it on the fork, it got put on a heart shaped shovel which now gets a *lot* of use. For certain jobs, a "D" handle is easier to control than a straight handle with my small hands and although it shouldn't be an issue for Hubby (Vice-grip V____ is his nickname) he often prefers "D" handles also.
 
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I have a fiberglass/stainless steel turning fork that Mom gave me soon after she had bought it, since it was too heavy for her (mail order, no chance to test it). She bought a steel and wood one instead. She also glommed onto a pair of short "long-handled" shovels that I had found at a yard sale. They were 3/4 the usual length, and had 3/4 size blades... perfect for her 5'-2" (and shrinking) stature.
We also had a bow rake (still do) that I broke the handle of as a teenager (misusing it while building BMX tracks) but it turned out to be a good length for her, and we never fixed it (we smoothed out and taped over the break) even though it was from Sears, and we could've just traded it in for a replacement.

Having tools that both fit YOU, and the job you are doing is important. Wooden handled tools are great since they are so easily modified: saw them, carve them, sand them down to a size/shape that fits your hands/body.

I've got an ad-hoc tool that I love, that is a broken garden hoe. It was broken to a 12" long tapered piece of handle, which I cut off to be maybe 6" and not stabby. It is just right for stirring a tub of mortar/concrete while you are kneeling next to it, or shuffling a bit of wet concrete into place, cleaning out the mixer... adjusting your base while setting paving stones.
I actually have a "new" one in the works (just needs oil and paint), made from a busted hoe using the remains of it's own handle, just 16" from the "handle end" turned down to fit the socket again. It has the advantage of the swell at the end that tightens your grip as you pull, that my ad-hoc one lacks.

Most of my blacksmithing hammers have handles that I've shaped to fit my hands better than the stocky stock handles they come with. In fact it's a good thing that the store-bought hammers have big, fat handles, because it's easy to customize them to your needs. I think of them as already assembled hammer kits.
 
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The modified fork is an excellent idea.

I’m 6’1” and spent much of my life with British gardening tools, forks, spades, shovels, all with fairly short D or T handles.  Back killers.  A few years ago I WWOOFed in France where all the aforementioned tools had long straight handles. The difference is amazing, I can work almost upright and my back doesn’t suffer half as much.  They took a little getting used to, but once accustomed, there’s no going back.  The D blade shovel is a joy, both for the long handle and the push/pull option for filling it with whatever needs moving.
 
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Talk about highjacking threads: Jay asked: How many of you have heard of a "Pineapple Express"?  Yes I am living in it right now. You can see it on satellite pictures, a trail of wind blown clouds from  Hawaii to here.  but on topic pulling weeds from sloppy wet soil. Blade broke off where welded to the gooseneckon a very good handle. No modification needed; just hook into that winter weed and jerk it out.
Wood handle broke off from prying with my favorite six tine fork.  Drilled the wood out and replaced the handle with fence top rail that had a taper at one end to fit in the next rail. It fit just right, strong and light, cut to just the length for my height.
 
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I bought a turning fork & sunk it in loamy soil to the stem/holt, then pulled back, it snapped off. It took five years before I bought another one, which has not broke as of this year.
                                                                                         
 
Pearl Sutton
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I learned to not try to take too deep of a bite to start with. And to not leave it out in the rain for the handle to rot  (ooops!!) I have had to re-handle a few of them.
My worst problem is cheap ones that the tines bend. I learned to buy old ones (or just the heads) at yard sales. Made of real metal, not soft crap.

:D
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