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Tools keep breaking

In the last two years I've broken 4 forks and countless trowels. Does everyone else go through this many tools just through normal gardening?image

I'm going to invest, for the second time, in a good quality fork and trowel; I broke the last lot which were Joseph Bentley. I've been looking on Amazon and there is a bewildering variety with mixed reviews.

The only thing I am settled on is that I want an all metal fork - I've recently broken mine but it was by far the best one I've used. I don't know what kind of metal it was though. Would anyone know which is the most suitable kind? I've seen stainless steel, carbon steel and carbon manganese.

Trowels I always snap at the point the handle meets the digging part. I had a trowel that appeared to be forged in one part as opposed to welded on and I managed to snap it just the same. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Thank youimage

Wearside, England.


  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    Carbon steel blades or tines and ash handles, that's the secret Victoria, spend the extra money and with care they should last you years. The cheap stuff will only do what you have experienced. Don't overload your tools either.

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,167

    Wow Victoria, you must be strongimage I have never managed to break a tool yet, but always use a crow bar when trying to loosen the tough clay in parts of the garden, not a spade or fork.

  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,027

    All I have to do is lean on a spade or a fork and they break. And that includes the expensive ones too. The only fork I have never manage to damage is an all metal one which I bought hundreds of years ago when I first started. Never seen another one like it sadly.

    Trowels break less often, but they go walk about, never to be seen again.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,152

    I've used Spear and Jackson spades and forks which suit me well as I can get smaller sizes, and I've only recently broken the border spade which I've had for over twenty years and which has suffered a fair bit of abuse with the amount of work it's done in that time. I noticed many GCs and other outlets have been pushing these Joseph Bentley ones Victoria, but I didn't like the feel of them. Mine are the never bend range and have steel blades, wooden shafts and comfortable plastic 'D' handles but I had difficulty finding the same ones when I looked online.  Instead I  bought a new spade locally but have resorted to gaffer taping the handle of the old one because I like it so much! Don't like my new one image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    I hope your Victoria Sponge cakes are not as tough as you, could break your teeth. My tools are donkeys years old some were my Fathers and still going strong. As said above good carbon steel and ash handles, I clean my tools after use and oil them handles as well. With the ash handle you get a spring effect with a steel handle it is a bit like driving a car with no shockers, every move goes right through your body. A lot of people actually do not know how to dig, chop left chop right chop down and lift sod to turn, about four fifths of the spade depth, they try to lift too much. Not you of course it seems you batter it into surrender with such vigour the tools suffer.

    Tongue in cheek Victoria but Ash handles is the way to go, buy cheap you get cheap.


  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 9,964

    Go for the Bulldog brand with an Ash handle - will def outlast me. If you buy the spade and fork together they're quite a bit cheaper

    Freds Shed is a good place to go for recommendations. The Bulldog brand are recommended there as are some others

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Tropical SamTropical Sam Posts: 1,488

    The answer is to improve the soil. Add in lots of manure, bark and compost to improve the structure. Do not walk on beds when you have done so. Over time it will be lighter.

    Why do you need to use a spade so much? I only use forks (garden and hand) on my clay loam soil as I have lost so any spades at the beginning. My cheap as anything fork has lasted. I rarely need to dig anything up now and rarely use a spade.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,152

    I've used mine for all sorts of things - from mixing concrete to creating borders where there's only been grass.  I hate to think how much turf and clay I've lifted out of the ground in various gardens in the last twenty years!

    And of course - I've done the occasional bit of hole digging for planting... image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • I think you guys all have a point about the over loading. Although I've improved a lot of the ground there are still sticky pockets of clay and lumps of rubble.

    I like the crowbar idea, artjak - I do have a wrecking bar I bought for something else, so I suppose I could use that.

    I've been looking at at Spear and Jackson neverbend trowel this morning Fairygirl; I asked a question about it on amazon but the reviewer didn't garden on clay, but it is good to hear something positive about a brand when I'm not familiar with most of them.

    I'm not convinced about the ash handles since even my weak friend managed to break mine. I admit I don't clean or look after my tools but it hardly seems worth it when they have such a short life span. I also took my late parents tools as I'd heard they were made better back in the day but the last fork is starting to go at the handle.

    More recently I've been buying the cheap supermarket/DIY store trowels thinking if a £10 trowel breaks the same as a £2 trowel, I might as well have 5 £2 trowels and then at least I have back ups.

    I can't help thinking you ought to be able to get tools that are equal to the task of heavy gardening though, because you can get heavy duty tools such as crowbars, pallet breakers and the like. I know the compromise would be on the weight and ease of use but at least it would be fit for the purpose.

    Just seen your answer blairs, I rarely use a spade, mostly a fork and a trowel for moving/ planting out.

    Thanks Pete8 - I will look up the bulldog brand.image


    Wearside, England.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,152

    I use a border spade Victoria because I'm small and it's a better size for me than a standard spade.It has a narrower blade so it's good for getting into awkward places, and I have plenty of those! I believe AlanT uses a 'ladies' spade for the same reason. I think it's more or less the same thing. I have dodgy wrists so I've found that spade has been perfect - not too heavy but very sturdy. I've also dug post holes with it  for fences etc and I've just been digging a small pond out so I was down into sticky blue/grey/yellow clay and it's done the job well.

    I've also used a pickaxe to remove rocks and and big stones when creating borders in solid ground, but I'm getting to the stage when my body complains too much about it! image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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