Looking for something? Start here!

To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Looking for something? Start here!

A wheel-y bad wheelbarrow

Anyone who knows anything about turn-of-the-century farm equipment will know that modern wheelbarrows simply do not stand the test of time and use. Before we delve into the differences between wheelbarrows it will be important for you as the reader to familiarize yourself with the two pictures you see attached to this article. Named figure 1 and figure 2 these two wheelbarrows while seeming similar in nature are actually quite different. Figure 1 shows a wooden wheelbarrow made around the year 1940 by my great-grandfather. Figure 2 shows a “True Temper” red wheelbarrow which you can purchase today at Lowe’s or The Home Depot.


Now, you may be looking at the wheelbarrows and thinking to yourself, “what even makes a good wheelbarrow and why am I still reading this article?” Well let me start with the latter; you are reading this article because, like me, you are letting your intrusive thoughts win and are currently entering the rabbit hole of wheelbarrow design. As for the former part of your question, I am so glad you asked!


There are a few things that make any wheelbarrow a GOOD wheelbarrow, three areas to be specified numerically. One, a good wheelbarrow does not puncture. Rubber, frankly, is overrated and a waste of oil. Your ability to do yard work should not be determined based on the air pressure or puncture status of a single tire. Otherwise, your wheelbarrow simply becomes a barrow all because the wheel could not keep up.


Two, a good wheelbarrow has solid edges to place things up against. Look, you are not using a wheelbarrow because it is shaped like a massive soup bowl. No! You are using it because there is a lot of big heavy stuff that you do not want to carry. But, without solid edges to place things up against, all you are going to be doing is shaking your item around in what could really be better described as a “wheel-trough.” Hard edges and sides allow you to stack things like wood and secure garden pieces in place without the worry of moving too much on the commute from the front yard to the back.


Three, a good wheelbarrow has optimal handle placement. There are two key factors when it comes to good handle placement: height and distance. You want handles that are closer to the ground rather than higher up because it provides you more leverage to lift the wheelbarrow and not worry about bottoming out the legs. You also want handles that are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart because it allows for the easiest grab and reduces shoulder pain. When handles are too wide you end up straining your shoulders and become upset at the yard work. Then who wins in this situation? That is right, your judgy neighbor who always talks about their pristine front yard. 


So take a good look again at the two wheelbarrows and tell me which one you think is best. If you said figure 2 then you can stop reading right now because you are simply wrong or just want to work me up. Take another look at figure 1. Look deeply into the soul of the wheelbarrow. Think about all that it moved and how much easier it is to work.


The cast iron wheel tells you right away that you can depend on it. It does not worry about sharp rocks, nails or surfaces. It can traverse any surface and make sure that you will always make it from one yard to the next. Look at the narrow and low handles of the wheelbarrow in figure 1. It is almost asking to be grabbed and lifted up with ease. That wheelbarrow tells you that every day is leg day when you use me! It is ergonomic and made with a very human design, unlike those modern wheelbarrows which require a giant to use. Then finally, look at the backstop on the wheelbarrow in figure 1. Think about how much more wood and stones you can stack on there rather than a modern “wheel-trough.” It can carry so much more per load as compared to said figure 2 wheelbarrow.


So next time you are in a Lowe’s or The Home Depot, do not fall for the traditional consumer trick and buy a wheelbarrow. Say “heck no, I can make my own thanks to The Hoot.”

Get Our Stories Sent To Your Inbox

Skip to content