I went to Mike's HandleWorld today to pick up my order and saw this stack of tool handles. These are square ended post hole digger handles. Most broadforks on the market use these, but I don't.
When I set out to make broadforks, I didn't want to be another broadfork maker, I wanted to be the best broadfork maker. I had to find the details that the others manufacturers were missing and fine tune the Gulland Broadfork to make it better. I came into this job after blacksmithing for the last 23 years and I learned a lot about wooden handled tools in that time. I always carefully installed handles in my hammers, knew how to choose the right ones out of a pile of handles.
A striking tool handle should be used with the grain of the wood running in line with the direction of the strike to make the handle stronger. The broadfork is not a striking tool, but it's very important for the grain to line up with the direction of the pull so that the handles will be able to utilize the ultimate strength of the wood. Take a look at the photo below.
It's easy to see on the square ends which ones have diagonal grain running through them, and you can see it on a lot of the round ends as well. These diagonal grain ash handles are very strong, but ultimately not as strong as those with a grain that can run in line with the pull of the tool. With a square handle socket, the handles can't be spun around to line up properly.
That's why I use a round handle socket. It's a little more difficult to assemble because welding a round tube to a square tube makes for a more 'interesting' weld joint, but it allows me to align the wood grain of the handle to be exactly where I want it.
Each handle is pre-drilled with the proper grain orientation so that all you have to do is tighten 2 bolts and the handles will be as good as they can be.
When designing this broadfork, there were lots of places I could have ignored such details but too many people do that these days. I wanted the Gulland Broadfork to be a generational, heirloom tool.
It's all in the details.