Make a Garden Dibble Handle for Comfort

In a previous article, I illustrated how to make a custom garden dibber. This customized garden dibber allows the repotting of seedling plugs from the seedling tray. The garden dibber has been effective in preventing the damage of tender roots of young seedlings.

The garden dibber, or garden dibble as others would call it, is essentially made of two basic parts: the dibble head and the dibble handle. The dibble head is molded concrete. The dibble handle is really nothing more than a metal rod that sticks out from the dibble head. It's a scrap reinforcement bar (or rebar) that is only 9 mm thick.

The rebar, as I've found, is really too thin for my hand to hold. The dibble head, being made of concrete, is a bit heavy and there isn't enough leverage when holding the garden dibble.

When creating a hole for the garden seedling plug, there is also this tendency to press the thumb against the rebar's end. This is to further push down the dibble head into the wet potting medium. The thumb is positioned as shown below when holding the dibber "dagger" style.

This occasional pushing of the thumb on the rebar's thin end can become painful after consecutively repotting several garden plugs

Improvised Handle for the Garden Dibble

An improvised thicker handle was made for the garden dibble to address two concerns:
  1. To allow easier holding and handling.
    With the heavy dibble head, the old handle was just too thin, that it can easily slipped through the fingers when holding it. In other words, the dibble is too front-heavy that the gardener ends up holding the dibble head instead of the rebar when carrying the garden dibble.

  2. To provide a bigger surface at the end.
    A new handle with a bigger surface at the end will be more comfortable for the thumb to press against. With a bigger surface area, the thumb is able to exert more pressure to assist in pushing down the dibble head.

Making a New Handle for the Garden Dibble

  • PVC pipe - 3/4" thick, 3.5" long
  • Iron fillers - cut steel matting or wire mesh
  • Clay epoxy

  1. Cut an old pvc pipe from scrap to around 3.5" long using a hacksaw. This will become the new handle. You may vary the length depending on the size of your palm.

  2. Confirm the correct length of the new handle by inserting the rebar. Notice the wide gap around the rebar when centered inside the handle.

    You will need some kind of rigid filler or spacers that will allow the rebar be centered as the clay epoxy is set.

  3. Cut some bits of metal from scrap steel matting or wire mesh using a hack saw. These metal fillers will add rigidity and weight to the handle. The will also act as spacers to center the rebar inside the handle.

  4. Hold the dibble so the bottom end of the handle is resting on a flat surface. Mix clay epoxy and stuff it inside the opening of the top of the new handle.

  5. Use a stick to push down the epoxy all the way down to the bottom of the new handle.

    This is to ensure that there is minimal air pocket inside the handle. Keep the epoxy as compact as possible.

  6. When the handle is partially filled with epoxy, insert the metal fillers so the fillers surround the rebar.

    The fillers will act as spacers and center the rebar inside the new handle. They will also make the handle rigid by reinforcing the clay epoxy filling.

  7. Use a hard and stiff stick to further push down the metal fillers. Work on this while the epoxy is still fresh and soft.

  8. When fresh clay epoxy and metal fillers have been compacted inside, the top of the handle will look rough as shown below.

    Use coarse sandpaper or a file to smoothen this top end.

  9. Inverting the dibble handle will show a flatter and comparatively smoother bottom end. Use sandpaper to smoothen rough spots.

  10. Apply clay epoxy to round out both ends of the new handle as shown below. This will hide any imperfections as well as fill up dents or depressions. Let the epoxy dry and cure until it hardens.

Here's the final garden dibble with the new working handle.

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