Modeling a Garden Shovel

Let’s try to model this nice little garden shovel. This tutorial is suitable for beginners and is very simple to follow.

Final model


First things first. Make sure you got your Snap option turned on in the status bar, and your OSnap enabled with some of the most commonly used options like End, Near, Point, Mid and Int.

We’ll start creating this little shovel from top viewport, like we would start tracing an image of some existing shovel imported in Rhinoceros.

With command, create a curve in Top viewport which has its control points exactly like on the image below. This is why Snap (to grid) is handy tool to use here.

Image 1

Then we need another copy of this curve, and for that we will use command and mirror it across x axis.After that, use command to join two curves.

Then we can either use command to close these two curves into one closed polyline/polycurve, or use Close command which will do the same thing with less clicks.

Image 2

Now, using command we will create a rectangle like on the image below: do not worry about the dimensions, just count the grid boxes and you’ll be fine. I’ve got some dimensions for you in case you get lost đŸ˜‰

Image 3

With command, we will trim the parts of the two closed polylines which will help us join all curves into one closed:

Image 4

Next thing would be to make the corners smoother. They aren’t normally that sharp, are they? So, using command we need to fillet the upper and lower corners with 1 unit, and the inner ones with 2 units, and the tip of the shovel with 0.4 units:

Image 5

Now, before we go any further, it is good to check if all these lines and curves are joined all together. Just click anywhere on the line, and if everything is ok then it will be yellow as selected. One more thing to check is if this IS really closed curve with SelClosedCrv command which will select all closed curves.

Next thing we need is a basic shape of our shovel. Since it is curved in two sides, the best basic shape would be an ellipsoid. Using command create one positioned just like on the image below:

Image 6

Ok, now we will Cut the with the closed curve we created. From Top viewport, we need to select both Ellipsoid and closed curve, and run command. It is important to do this in Front viewport because the viewport is controlling the direction of the projection.

Image 7

Now we got two projected curves. One on the top and one on the bottom of ellipsoid. We don’t need the upper one, and we can delete it by selecting it and hitting key on keyboard.

Using command, we will first select the object we want to cut which is in this case ellipsoid, and then the curve which is the object we wish to split with:

Image 8

Now we have finally created something that is actually resembling our shovel. This is one thin surface, and we need some thickness. Using command we will first offset the surface and create one on top with distance of 0.3 units: (when you start the command, it will display white arrows on your surface, those are normals, and are used to see in which direction the offset will occur. Chances are your arrows point towards bottom, click on the surface and the arrows will change direction)

Image 9

We now have two flat surfaces and we need to connect them somehow. We’ll do that with command which will basically create nice blend surface between two surfaces: (Use AutoConnect option in command line)

Image 10

With command join the blend surface with two flat surfaces. You will notice on the part where would handle start there is some weird hole. Never mind that, that part will soon disappear.

Again, we need to create another Ellipsoid. Using command create one like on the image below. Again, the positioning and size is crucial here.

Image 11

Hint: When you start command, just follow these steps. Input “10, -3.75” (that will set the center in the right position), press enter while active Front viewport (click anywhere in the viewport), “6, -3.75” (that will set one dimension of the ellipsoid – length), press enter while still in Front viewport, “10, -2.25”, press enter while in Front viewport, “10,-1.5” press enter Top viewport is active. Do not input apostrophe signs.

Using command, create a extract isocurve from the middle of ellipsoid. You need to hit the Quad point to make sure the circle is in ellipsoid’s center.

Image 12

Using command we will create a cylinder out of this circle. So, start the command, select the circle, make sure the option is set to Yes, and input 15 units in command line as extrusion distance.

Image 13

With command connect ellipsoid with cylinder:

Image 14

Again, with command we need to connect the plate and handle part:

Image 15

If you are getting something like on the image below….

Image 16

… then you need to use command on the plate before you use BooleanUnion. Because the normals are pointing towards the inside, while they should point towards outside.

This next part will be a bit tricky, so pay attention. We need to create a variable fillet on the edges that connect the handle part and the shovel plate. The biggest radius will be 1 unit, while all others will be 0.8 units.

So, start command, and set 0.08 as default radius. Select the edges:

Image 17

… press enter, and click on AddHandle option in command line. Add 7 more handles like on the image below:

Image 18

The two big ones show be set to 1 unit, and you do that by clicking on the outer dot (center of an arc) and inputing the values.

Image 19

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26 Responses to “Modeling a Garden Shovel”

  1. brick says:

    This is one of the worst tutorials I’ve ever worked through. Why would you put half of the model off the grid and then say “the proportions are crucial here.”? Pain in the ass to get through this thing.

  2. Ivan says:

    well, first of all, the grid is a representation of a plane on which you create your models, often called construction plane. Of course you can expand it to show more grid, but isn’t really necessary if you have and follow grid snaps. Because the grid is just showing you where will your cursor snap to, visually, while you can obviously see for yourself where your cursor is snapping when using Snap to Grid option.
    Grid is just ONE modeling aid you can follow to model your way through, and most certainly is NOT the number one thing for modeling accurately and fast.

  3. 7hang says:

    Thanks,but there‘re errors in this tutorial,some pictures don’t match the instruction.

  4. Ivan says:

    please explain your problem, and I will try to help you out.

  5. Philip says:

    I got a problem with FilletEdge command. Can you help me? See the pic.
    I remake it many times and nothing useful…

  6. JTex says:

    I found this tutorial frustrating as well. It was slow going up to the boolean join of the handle and spade at which point I have lost interest and will find a more detailed tutorial elsewhere. The extrude isocurve took a while to perform as I had difficulty selecting the center of the ellipsoid. Simply suggesting “use the quadrants” or whatever was not helpful. But, I finally got this done. Not a big deal, just where things started to get frustrating. Most frustrating was the boolean join. I could not get this to work. Even after reading in the FAQs about why booleans fail and attempting a step by step – Intersect, Split, Join, Delete – which did not work. I couldnt get the ellipsoid to split. Anyway, I find the video tutorials helpful as you can watch the actions being performed. I might try these again at a later time, but now I need a beer.

  7. blip says:

    What’s the environment map on that geometry?

  8. Chris says:

    Hi, thank you for sharing all your tutorials, they are very helpful when learning rhino!

    I do agree that sometimes things aren’t explained clear enough for beginners, but I understand that it’s not that easy to write a tutorial as when you are an expert at something it’s hard to remember what is and isn’t simple.

    One thing that i’m curious about and REALLY hope you can answer is that in your models, your same surfaces have the minimum amount of isocurves needed, but mine (following your instructions) have loads more isocurves. Is there a “regen surface isocurves” tool or something that gets rid of all the extra/unneeded isocurves?

    I hope you can answer.

    Thanks a lot again.

  9. kyla says:

    i got lost at the trim part. it doesnt explain how to use it. the whole rectangle just lights up. if this tutorial was for beginners it would explain how to use the commands. it seems there ar very few good tutorials for this frustrating program T_T

  10. Mark says:

    Good tutorial. One has to know the basics to follow it (for those who criticized it). I learned a couple of good techniques from it. Thanks.

  11. Ali says:

    Great tutorial! I’ve learnt some good techniques from it as well

  12. Ali says:

    Just a question…why don’t we use offsetsrf and use the solid option to turn a surface into a solid right away? just seems more direct to me than blendsrf

  13. Ivan says:

    well, with blendsrf we blend and make a round section edge, if you know what I mean. With solid offsetsrf you get flat side surface which then you would need to fillet, and then you could get into more trouble than with this method

  14. Nate says:

    As someone who has never used Rhino before, I would have appreciated not having to scout through millions of commands to find the ones that you have mentioned. You ought to let the reader know where the to find the commands you mention. Also, when I made the ellipsoid, it did not appear as a solid shape only as 3 ellipses. Was there something that needed to be turned off or on to get a proper solid?

  15. Ivan says:

    the reason why I am not explaining where each command sits in which toolbar is simply because it is not needed. The commands are easily started from inputing the command names into command line.

    And if you search for yourself all the buttons you need, then you can decide for yourself whether it is more handy to use buttons or just to type in the command name, not to mention that that way you will learn much better (but not quicker). In the end you will find yourself using all methods of starting commands, using toolbar buttons, command prompt, keyboard shortcuts, or drop down file menu. It is just up to you.

    One more thing, under Help menu, you have command help, which updates automatically as you start commands, so I give you the command name, you type it in command line, the command help updates and gives you all info on the command, and you get “where to find” info on the command as well. So, really, I don’t think explaining where each button sits while you can edit your toolbars completely, is needed.

  16. Ivan says:

    and about the ellipsoid. Not sure what you’re saying, but it seems to me that you somehow missed the perspective view. When you start Rhino you should be presented with 4 views, three orthogonal and one perspective. The three orthogonal are actually views from top, right and front, while perspective represents your model in space in 3 dimensions. Normally if you look at the ellipsoid which is an object from either orthogonal view, then it would be presented to you as 2D shape, which in this case is ellipse or circle.

    or, you just need to right click on the perspective label and click on shaded to get full 3D representation of your model. The default is set to wireframe, which is one of the standard 3D viewport representations.

  17. FenderTalker says:

    I like this tutorial, enough good described. Please, post more like this one. Thanks.

  18. s2kslav says:

    this has been a frustrating tutorial, Ive gotten to the part right before Offsetting the surface, but do not know how to make the “shovel” curve into a surface. It seems that step has been skipped. can you elaborate?

  19. Ivan says:

    If I’m not mistaken about the place you got stuck on, then everything is explained. There is one little lapsus in the text but that shouldn’t stop you from getting the right shape. So, you got your closed curve you made in your top viewport, and you got your ellipsoid solid object, you just need to project that closed curve onto the ellipsoid and cut the ellipsoid with the curves so you get your nice surface which then you can offset.

  20. Ivan says:

    when projecting, you should project from TOP viewport like it was indicated, not from FRONT viewport, like it was suggested later. That was a lapsus.

  21. Fuyi says:

    Still working on this tut but it is quite a challenge. I don’t think total beginners can really follow this but to those people I would recommend reading through the tutorial pages in Rhino help and downloading the Level 1 Training manual from the Rhino site. Those should help you get more familiar with the basic commands of Rhino.

  22. Dani says:

    Hi.Thank for your helpful tutorial. I’ve problem in last section (image 56). When in filletedge command want to select edge, any edge couldn’t be selected

  23. Ivan says:

    you need to join the surfaces first. I might missed to mention that.

  24. kevinxu says:

    Done! I just finished my shovel. I followed your steps with no problems. Thank you so much.

  25. Jason B says:

    Great tutorial. For those having a lot of problems I suggest playing around with Rhino more. I have learned mostly by playing around and trying commands to see what they do. I actually trimmed the handle in half lengthwise and mirrored the grip and joined it back together for grip on the underside to improve grip look.
    Remember, unless you are making a model for work or school, don’t stress and have fun!!!!

  26. CDM says:

    While this is a good model for a beginner, your steps can be a bit convoluted at times. For example images 25 through 30 don’t clearly reflect their associated steps.

    “Using Offset command, offset the edge by 0.2 unit” – Which edge? One of the circles at the base of the handle or the 0.75 extrude.

    You tend to jump in and out of saying ‘like the image below’ and giving concise measurements and actions. Stick to one or use both consistently.

    Again, I’m not saying this is a bad tutorial. It’s free. I can’t complain about that! Only perhaps you should improve the steps a little as this is the first tutorial people come to and could deter people from some of your other (better written and more complex) tutorials.

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