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snap-on shovel for Ice Axe. DIY

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snap-on shovel for Ice Axe. DIY

Postby Yeti » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:36 am

Scrap metal and paint:
Image
Image

Have a look at the way the metal is bent, because that is key to its rigidity. What I have is made of 6061 aluminum (scrap from work), not T6, fairly low quality sheet metal, .090 thick. Rattle-can paint so it won't get lost. Weight is abot 1.5lb, so it's kinda chunky.... but it's free.

I'm practicing on my millwork, so I made a spring loaded snap to retain the pick (which has a nifty hole punched in it by BD). You likely don't have a mill, so I recommend bending the metal around the axe shaft (as seen), and having some sort of hard-stop for the pick to hit when you slide it in. Retaining the axe can be done a number of ways, depending on your stuff:

-Leash: The simplest way would be to have the pick hit the hard-stop, and have the axe leash tie to the shovel in some way. May not be possible, so...
-Chord: Have a chord that ties the shovel to the leash mounting hole. Tie it nice and tight, or use a cleat. A clam-cleat would make it easier to assemble/dissemble than my snap-in, but plunging it into the snow may dislodge the rope from that kind of cleat.
-Thumb screw: Image
You "could" drill a hole in the axe shaft, and use a thumb nut to engage the hole... however I get really leery about drilling up axe shafts, especially composite. You could use the thumb nut as a set-screw, drilling no hole in the axe... but again that could crack and compromise composite axe shafts.

Thought I'd share. I'd seen that these had been made by Chouinard in the past, but are hard to find. There is a plastic version on the market today, that gets crappy reviews.

Materials: You can buy the aluminum I used from McmasterCarr.com very cheap. You can also find deals on Ebay, people selling leftovers from larger projects. My sheet was 12"x18". If you want to spend $50, you can even get slabs of Titanium that will do the job for less weight. You want ONLY 6AL-4V Ti alloy (Titanium itself is soft, many alloys will buckle), at least .040 thick. This will be hard to bend, may require heat.

If you don't have a sheetmetal break to bend the parts, I use a bench vise with a couple of slabs of steel or hardwood to give it a wider bite. Use your mighty arms and a hammer to form it... it's not exactly that simple, but practice is the only way you'll get it!
Last edited by Yeti on Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mountainjeff

Re: snap-on shovel for Ice Axe. DIY

Postby Mountainjeff » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:21 am

Cool! Very nice job. I might have to try this myself. I am always interested to see peoples mountain oriented DIY projects.
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Re: snap-on shovel for Ice Axe. DIY

Postby ExcitableBoy » Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:07 pm

Impressive. Now get to work on making one that is compatible with the miriad of leashless designed tools all the kids are climbing with today.
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Re: snap-on shovel for Ice Axe. DIY

Postby Yeti » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:31 pm

ExcitableBoy wrote:Impressive. Now get to work on making one that is compatible with the miriad of leashless designed tools all the kids are climbing with today.

No. Screw the kids, I'm old. 8)

The blade could stay pretty uniform no matter what you use it with. I guess you'd change the U-channel that holds the axe shaft when you go from one size to another. Using a chord to hold the axe in would probably be the most universal option. No way you're going to get this on a technical tool, I'm really sure you'd want to given their shortness. If you've got cash for a set of Monsters, you've got cash for a lightweight folding shovel. ;)
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Re: snap-on shovel for Ice Axe. DIY

Postby kylenicolls » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:38 am

I might have to try that. I'd probably go with .045 or so aluminum though, and find someone with a TIG welder to weld the fol corners that are inevitably cut. My 65cm has a nice hole in it too would would make a wing-bolt absolut cake to lock it on end with.
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Re: snap-on shovel for Ice Axe. DIY

Postby Yeti » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:31 pm

If you're going with .040, I'd definitely suggest you use 7075 alloy. Even T65 isn't going to be strong enough for shoveling soggy slosh-snow, and it's not going to break through ice very well either.

Something to consider witht he wing bolt: Damage can make for a dangerous situation. If that bolt gets stuck in the hole, your ice axe wont separate from the shovel, and you'll have to climb/decend without a pick. I'd use a grade 5 or better bolt if you can find it, definitely not stainless. Make sure the tapped hole has plent of threads to engage and it hard enough not to deform when you're beating away at some hard ice-snow.
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