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How are garden trowels manufactured?

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Garden trowel blade

The most common form of garden trowel available is made with a steel blade. To create the blade, manufacturers usually follow these steps:
Water jet cutting steel sheet To start the manufacturing process, a sheet of metal is cut into the correct size and shape with a high pressure jet of water.

For more information on the types of metal used, see What are garden trowel blades made of?

Garden trowel head in furnace The blade is then placed into a furnace until it is red hot. If it is placed into a coal-burning furnace the coal will leave a carbon coating on the outside, which makes it stronger.
Shaping garden trowel blade in an industrial sized hammer When the blade has been taken out of the furnace it is placed under an industrial hammer. This will pound the blade into the correct shape.
Shaping garden trowel blade with hammer A blacksmith then uses a small hammer to work out any dents in the blade. It is then placed back into the furnace for more hardening. The blacksmith will alternate the use of the light hammer and the furnace until the required shape is achieved.
Metal cutting guillotine for cutting garden trowel blade The blade is then trimmed into the original shape with a guillotine. This is because the hammering process presses the metal out of its original shape.
Brake press for shaping a garden trowel blade The blade is returned to the furnace to harden it further, before it is scraped clean and placed into a press, which shapes the blade into a curve with 120 tonnes of pressure. The curve allows the blade to hold soil when transferring it from one place to another.
Garden trowel tang The next step is to weld the tang onto the blade. A tang is a rounded bar that is often made into an “S” shape. It is  welded onto the blade to connect it to the handle. The weld marks are then ground off with an angle grinder to give a cleaner appearance.

For more information on a tang, see What are the parts of a garden trowel?

Cleaning blades with an ultrasonic cleaner The trowel blades are then soaked in a soap solution and placed in an ultrasound bath. The sound waves in the bath shake loose any unwanted dirt from the blade.
Sharpening a garden trowel head To create the sharpened edges, the blade is honed with a grinder to make it sharp enough for cutting through hard soil.
Garden trowel ferrule connection The garden trowel handle is then attached to the tang with a ferrule connector. The tang is secured into a hole in the handle using a polyurethane glue in the hole and a ferrule or metal collar is clamped around the end of the handle.

For more information on ferrule connectors, see What are the parts of a garden trowel?

Garden trowel handle

Defiance lathe creating a garden trowel wooden handle The most common form of garden trowel available is a made with a wooden handle. These are created by using a defiance lathe which allows the manufacturer to rotate the wood while a stationary cutting blade creates the cylindrical shape.
Sanding garden trowel handle with grit paper The handle is sanded down using 120 grit sandpaper to create a smooth finish. It is coated with a thin layer of non-petroleum based oil, such as linseed oil.

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