—Updated: 22 March 2010—
The quote above comes from Eliot Coleman, and is found in his excellent book, The New Organic Grower. Coleman is, of course, right in his assessment, and anyone who already owns a good wheel hoe with an oscillating stirrup blade will verify this.
Yes indeed, such a wheel hoe is the ideal tool for keeping weeds under control in any serious home or market garden. Properly used, the wheel hoe with a stirrup blade will cultivate soil and hoe weeds ten times faster than a hand hoe. Better yet, hoeing with a wheel hoe is far easier than using a hand hoe. In short, a wheel hoe makes gardening more enjoyable and more productive.
There are two kinds of wheel hoes: low wheel and high wheel. The low-wheel hoe is much easier to use and vastly superior to the high wheel hoe. Eliot Coleman, recommends the low wheel hoe over high wheel versions (you can Read Why Here). The only problem with low wheel hoes is that these simple tools are expensive. You can expect to spend $300 to $400 for a readymade low-wheel hoe (and don't forget to figure in the additional cost of shipping).
Such a high price tag for such a simple device has excluded many gardeners from owning this remarkably efficient tool. That is what motivated me to develop an inexpensive homemade wheel hoe design. My intention from the beginning was to share my homemade wheel hoe plans with the rest of the world for FREE here on the internet. It took me a couple years of development and testing but, finally, I came up with an intelligent homemade wheel hoe design. And here we are...
I call my homemade wheel hoe the Planet Whizbang. "Whizbang" is a dictionary word that means “conspicuous for speed, excellence, or startling effect.” That description certainly applies to my wheel hoe. As for the prefix of “Planet,” that is a nod to the famous Planet Jr. wheel hoe developed in the late 1800s by Samuel Leeds Allen. Planet Jr. wheel hoes were once a common fixture in most every home and commercial garden in America (back when most everyone in this country was a serious gardener). You can read more about the old Planet Jr. and how I came to develop my modern incarnation of the tool at this link: Introducing The Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe.
If you have some basic handyman tools and skills, you can easily build your own Planet Whizbang wheel hoe. This web site tells and shows you exactly how. Your homemade Planet Whizbang will be every bit as sturdy, functional, and useful as those expensive, already-made wheel hoes. It will be a tool that you can use for the rest of your gardening days and then hand down to your grandchildren.
You should be able to build your own Planet Whizbang for 1/3 of the cost of other wheel hoes on the market. If you are exceptionally handy and motivated to save money, you will be able to build the Planet Whizbang for even less money than that. There are two options available for those who want to build their own Planet Whizbang:
Option #1: The Harder Way
If you have the tools and skills needed to cut, drill, and bend steel you can purchase the basic steel parts from any metal fabrication shop and make your own Planet Whizbang from scratch. This tutorial will provide you with ALL the information you need to make your Planet Whizbang “the harder way.” The advantage to building a wheel hoe the harder way is that it is the least expensive way to get the job done.
Option #2: The Much Easier Way
If you would rather not deal with cutting, drilling, and bending steel, you can purchase an inexpensive Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe Metal Parts Kit. The kit contains precut, pre-drilled components. All the hardware needed to make the hoe body with an 8” oscillating stirrup hoe blade are in in the kit.
All you have to do when you purchase the hardware parts kit is file away any sharp edges on the metal pieces, spray paint the parts with an inexpensive can of aerosol paint (red is the recommended color), and bolt the parts together. Filing, painting, and assembling the parts should not take more than a couple hours of your time.
There is, of course, a little more to it than that. You also need a wheel and handles. The wheel can be purchased from Northern Tool for fifteen dollars (Click Here For Details).
As for the handles, this site will tell you how to make the tried-and-true old Planet Jr. handle style using inexpensive 3/4” pine. The old Planet Jr. handle style features a unique pistol grip, not the curved field-plow-style handle, which is designed to hold onto and follow, not grip and work. Or you can make handles out of hardwood. Or you can just purchase a set of Already-Made Whizbang Ash Hoe Handles.
The simple, step-by-step instructions on this site show you how to make your own deluxe Planet Whizbang using the metal parts kit. Along the way, those of you who would like to build your hoe from scratch will find links to the more specific details you’ll need. You can click your way through the how-to steps by way of the links found over on the right column of this page. Or, you can begin with Step 1 by clicking this link: Step 1.
Yours for successful gardening,
P.S. I hope you are encouraged and inspired by the information on this web site. If so, would you please help spread the word by telling others on the internet? I sure would appreciate your help telling the rest of the world about the Planet Whizbang wheel hoe. Thank you.