- Design

Design Follows a Twisted Path

I was working on a snow stake (coming soon) made from 7075-T6 aluminum sheet and was trying to think of other things the stake could be used for (mostly outlandish and funny things) when “trowel” made the list and *ding ding* “Hey, wait a minute, I could make a pretty nice trowel with this stuff!” Hmm, let me see: ...made locally√ ...no similar product in stores√ ...strong and ultralight aerospace materials (always fun)√ ...cool little design project√ ...something I’d actually use myself√ – heck yeah, I’ll do that! So here we are. Nature’s call (and a little design process luck) has urged yet another product to market.

The prototypes from A to J and final production shape K
Deuce prototype evolution 700 wide
A - Looks a lot like a mini version of the snowstake I was working on, thick and heavy .032” material
B - Nicer shape, a little smaller, thinner .025” material, two holes in it to let it be used as a snow stake
C - Doubled back on what it would take to make it .500 ounces instead, wedge handle shape
D - Still .500 ounces but with a flared handle which I liked
E - Went back to big scoop and kept flared handle, weight now set at .600 ounces. Made colored prototypes and took this version onto Kickstarter.
F - Lots of little bends to glam it up - yuk, too glittery
G - Rounder top for more comfortable palming
H - Less flare to make handle-to-scoop area stronger (common request to use as a sand stake drove this since it could flex the handle exactly the wrong way)
I - Continued strengthening, narrowest part of the handle moved away from scoop, subtley flared end for pulling up out of sticky mud
J - Continued refinement for strength and shape elegance
K - Final production model, angles tweaked very slightly to again increase handle strength

So when Did Using It Upside Down Come In?

I called in an expert and then, *gasp*, took their advice:
Nick upside down deuce digging collage 700

Here’s what I used to say about the handle comfort BEFORE discovering how to use it upside down:
This product will be carried for hours and hours and be used for a few minutes a day. Therefore its priorities have been weighted heavily in favor of less weight (and more affordability). Here's a little exercise in what I call "honest explanation." I bet there's not one marketing department that would say what I'm going to say next: this trowel is not for everyone. It's made of thin material. It's edges have been tumbled just right – it's not sharp by any means. It goes into most soil with ease so it requires very modest pressure to make a hole. BUT it's not something you can jam into hard ground without discomfort and if you really smite the ground with it you might even be able to cut yourself. I expect that it's completely automatic for most people not to do this but maybe it bears mentioning here. Please be just the slightest bit mindful when digging with this trowel. Putting a bumper on it would add a fair fraction to the weight and add very significantly to the cost. If this sounds alarming to you or maybe makes you think: "But I count on reenacting the shower scene from Psycho with my trowel to relieve stress when going to the toilet," then perhaps this trowel is not for you. Deep breaths. It's OK.

Now I say, “HEY WORLD! Check out this awesome feature!”

Snowstake Discussion
I once thought a couple of holes in the middle would allow a killer extra feature: the ability to attach a guyline and use it as a snow or sand stake. Cool idea, huh? Um... well, let’s think that through a little further: In snow, no one carries a trowel and just one sorta-snowstake is pretty pointless. Add to the likely problem that the edges of the holes will cut the guyline cord at a tension well under its full breaking strength and you get strike one.
In sand there’s a really good reason to have a trowel to bury anchors, deadman-style, like stakes (sideways) or sticks or rocks. So having the trowel for sand is terrific but if you can bury all those other handy things, why would you finish by burying the trowel – the trowel you might need for, you know, what you bought it for? Strike two. So there you have it: the holes in the center of the scoop are gone and now it’s easier to clean too. DONE (design is often just a one-strike-and-you’re-out game, two strikes is WAY out).

No packaging required
The one hole in the Deuce is an elongated octagon that lets it be hung nicely on a peg board in a store — all eye-catching and clanky. Retailers can stick a price tag on em and the most important info is right on it. Everything but telling about using it upside down for hard soil. Still haven’t figured out how to say that quickly and well.
Pegboard1 small