Insourcelife Tamper – Homemade Tamping Tool DIY


Writing a post about procuring free mulch and building frugality muscles with MulchFit, I recalled another recent DIY adventure that at least a couple of people out there might appreciate. Every week during the grass growing season I would get annoyed  when it was time to mow a small side yard area between the driveway and the fence. Due to its size, shape and surrounding objects it would take a disproportionate amount of time to cut and trim the grass. My solution was to Xeriscape it all with mulch and giddily reprogram our sprinkler system to forever turn off irrigation of “Zone 1”.

But before I could do all that I needed to build a walking path between the driveway and the gate leading to our backyard. After killing the grass I tilled a strip wide enough to lay two 16×16 pavers side by side. This was made MUCH easier with my beloved Mantis tiller. I bought it shortly after we moved into our current house over 6 years ago and there is no way I’d be able to do all the Xeriscaping, tree planting, gardening and lawn maintenance (dethatching/aerating) without it. I guess I could but it would totally suck as the right tool for the job makes all the difference.


After clearing a pathway and making it slope evenly from the driveway to the gate I was about to start laying down pavers but remembered that I should probably tamp down the dirt to make a solid foundation. I have lots of tools in the garage but a tamper is not one of them. If you are not familiar with tampers, they are used for packing and leveling asphalt, gravel, stone and dirt and I can’t recall ever needing one until now.

Tamping tools are readily available at your local Lowes or Home Depot at around $30-35 for a handheld manual tamper. You can even get one online and save a trip to the store. However if I bought one, not only would I be out of at least $30 but I’d also have yet another tool taking up space in the garage. And based on my homeownership history it might be another 10 years until I use it again. The only logical solution was to DIY a homemade tamper.

Your typical tamper weighs between 8 and 12 pounds. That weight, a flat surface and a long handle is all you need to replicate the functionality of a store-bought tamper.

As I said, I’ve got all kinds of different tools so I went shopping in my garage. The best contender turned out to be a True Temper Splitting Maul from Lowe’s with an 8 lb head and a 36” handle. The only thing missing was a flat surface to do the actual tamping. Where does that leave us?

Say Hello to My Little Friend – the Insourcelife Tamper!


I simply cut a piece of scrap wood and attached it to the splitting maul with 2 zip ties through the 4 holes drilled in the wood. It took less than 10 minutes from the idea to the finished product and cost exactly $0.

Here is another picture showing the DIY tamping tool.


Might be hard to believe but the ghetto tamper worked as good as a store bought version. Best part is that after tamping down the dirt I just cut the zip ties and put away the splitting maul without having to add another useless tool to my collection.

As I was writing this post I searched the Internet for other people’s ideas on how to make a manual tamping tool and didn’t see anything as easy to make as the Insourcelife Tamper. Some wanted you to pour a cement base while others proposed welding and grinding steel. Hopefully the DIY tamping tool in this post will provide another easy to make homemade alternative. My version uses a splitting maul but a sledgehammer or anything else that’s heavy and has a long handle will work just fine.

It’s believed Plato once said that “Necessity is the mother of invention”.  I couldn’t agree more and add “Improvising is good for your soul (and your wallet)!”


16 thoughts on “Insourcelife Tamper – Homemade Tamping Tool DIY

  1. I love these DIY posts. And I completely agree that not having another tool cluttering up the garage is even better than saving the cash.

      • This is great! I’m building a gravel and beam foundation for my greenhouse. I knew, from a very knowledgeable friend now passed, that I needed to tampe the gravel. So I Googled a “homemade tamper” and your wonderful idea came up!

  2. Brilliant! Thank you for sharing this. I have fencing to start putting up tomorrow and really didn’t want to have to buy one or have it sitting around in the barn. Your idea is terrific and I’m going to make it first thing in the morning!

    • Thanks, hope it works! Depending on how much fence you have, you might need to modify it to be a bit stronger than just a couple of zip ties. My setup worked great but I only needed to tamp down a short walkway area.

  3. Excellent idea for the tamper. Just saved me the £25 for a tool that I will rarely use in the next ten years. I’m going to do mine with my pick axe.

    • Pick axe should work just fine too! I’ve been going through my garage and getting rid of a few “one-time use” tools I’ve acquired or inherited over the years. It’s such a waste and just takes up space and gets in the way.

  4. Great idea! I had no tamper either, but I had a dolly without wheels, so I used that as tamper ( I use carry on luggage to carry bags on sands, lol)

  5. A good idea increase its value over time. This is 2016 and a tamper in Canada costs upwards of C$48. I am planning to build a “pea-pebble filled” foundation for a resin garden shed, and have been wondering whether there is an alternative to buying a tamper, which will become another hard-to-store tool used once in a blue moon, along with the pick axe and the sledgehammer I already own. I searched the internet for “handmade tamper” and your article promptly showed up. Thank you very much. I will save some money, storage space in the garage, and a trip to the hardware store.

    • Looks like a store-bought tamper is $35 as of today at Lowe’s here in the US. Not that expensive but I haven’t had a need for a tamper since I wrote this post and I’m glad that I don’t have another useless tool taking up space in my garage. Glad you found this idea useful!

  6. I am going to lay lay 12×12 pavers for a walkway in backyard and was looking for an idea of how to make a tamper instead of buying one! Thanks for sharing your great idea!

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