Extra Long DIY Snow Shovel for Tall People

I'm not sure how it is where you live, but up here in Canada, we take our snow shovels seriously. We've got all varieties of shovels: pushers, scoopers, wide, narrow, metal, plastic, ergonomic and on and on. But here's the problem, they are all designed for the average height adult! OK, there are the shorter shovels for kids or to take in your car trunk, but tall people are out of luck. Too short a shovel impacts ergonomics and makes shoveling even more risky for back pain than it already is. Time for a Tall Adaptation!

Tall Man Using Average Snow Shovel
Believe it or not, that is a full sized
shovel I am using, not a kids shovel!
The concept is simple; put a longer shaft on an existing shovel. You could use a variety of things for the shaft and a variety of materials (aluminum, wood, plastic, fiberglass). For my shovel, I went with maple wood dowel from the hardware store. They had a variety of diameters and lengths to choose from. I got a 1 ¼" diameter, 6' length I could cut down. Some shovel heads might be better with 1". Check out the two image links below for 1" and 1 ¼" poplar dowels.

6' x 1" poplar dowel
6' x 1 ¼" poplar dowel
The length of the shovel is dependent on shovel style, your dimensions, and preferences. But on an average height person, the handle typically comes up to about shoulder height. So this should be the case for taller people too. In other words, select a shaft length that brings the shovel length to about shoulder height.

Snow Shovel Measurements

The connection between the shaft and shovel blade can be a bit tricky. I looked around and found there are three main varieties.
  • Straight: The shaft does not taper and is fixed by only a screw(s). This type is usually found on cheaper shovels and is prone to coming loose. Though this type would be easy to adapt, it is perhaps too flimsy.
  • Tapered: The shaft is tapered so that it binds against the blade's tapered receiver and is fixed with a screw. This type would be tricky to adapt as you would need to somehow taper your shaft.
  • Wedge: This type is a combination of the previous two. The shaft is straight, but a separate wedge is used to get a more secure connection with the blade. This is more secure than the straight type, but easier to adapt than the tapered type, hence I chose this one for my tall shovel.
Types of Snow Shovel Connections

Tall Adapting the wedge type: Use a couple flat head screw drivers to separate the plastic teeth and pull the shaft out of the blade. Next remove the plastic wedge from the old shaft and attach it to the new shaft. Also move the handle over to the new shaft (most handles are just straight connections with a screw). Insert the new shaft into the blade (my shaft was a bit oversize so required some sanding to get it to fit). Also make sure to rotate the shaft so that the blade and handle are lined up correctly.

Modifying Shovel to be a Tall Snow Shovel

Besides allowing for you to shovel with better posture, another benefit is that you can get the blade at the angle to the pavement intended for scraping (with too short a shovel, the steep angle means continuously jerking to a stop). This is particularly important for shovels with a sharp metal scraper edge.

Extra Long Snow Shovel for Tall People

After using the tall shovel for a while, I can definitely say it is both easier on my back and makes me a more efficient shoveler!

5 comments:

  1. Any suggestions on where to buy longer shafts?

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    1. I suggest first trying your local hardware stores and lumber yards. If they don't have what you want in stock, they can probably get it for you. I don't know of any off hand, but there are probably some online wood dowel suppliers that could also help you out.
      As far as other materials, I was thinking maybe a fiber glass or aluminum pool pole, but you might have a hard time finding the right diameter.
      Good luck!

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    2. I've add some links to the top of the post for some 1" and 1 1/4" poplar dowels

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  2. Now I need to raise the handles on my snow blower. I live outside of south of Buffalo NY in Hamburg . We just got 80" of snow over the past 3 days.

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    Replies
    1. It wouldn't be too hard to make some extended handles, but now the controls, that's another matter...
      I can't imagine trying to shovel that much snow, an inch taller than me! Things are starting to melt where I am, if that happens there, what a mess it will be...

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