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)!”