F3 Shovel Flags

Use this documentation to make your own shovel flag.

Done The Easy Way
Shovel Flags

By: @RoboCall - F3 Anaheim

There are many ways to build a Shovel Flag, but after a few different iterations, I thought I would share the process that I’ve come up with that is simple and easily replicable. I will also share some tips, tricks, and pitfalls to watch out for.

The Shovel

There are many shovels on the market, including those with wood, fiberglass, and even plastic handles. The first shovel flag that I put together had a wood handle. This was based on a design that I found in an old YouTube video. Basically, you drilled a hole into the end of the handle, then epoxied a portion of the flag pole into the hole. This worked, but I found the flag would get thrown to the ground by gusts of wind. Similarly, the flag pole would fall out once in a while if you happen to be marching with your shovel flag. So I set out to make some improvements.

The best shovel that I’ve come across is the Husky 47” shovel with the black fiberglass handle, sold by Home Depot for about $25. The shovel handle is hollow, and the plastic endcap is very easy to drill through. And the shovel is very durable, so it should last for years.

If you can find a shovel with a similar endcap at another store, it should work just fine.

The Flag Pole

Those cheap multi-section flag poles that come with most inexpensive flags are horrible. That is the nicest way I can say it. They tend to fall apart at the most inopportune times.

The best flagpole that I found is a 60” piece of ½” EMT tubing that can be found at Home Depot, Lowes, or any other store where they sell general or electrical building materials. It is one single piece, rigid enough to support a flag in relatively heavy winds, and it is extremely durable, so it shouldn’t get out of round on you. 

Another advantage of having a longer flagpole is that if you happen to be marching with it, you won’t need the shovel to hold it comfortably. We do a lot of rucks and stair climbs carrying our flags in my region, and it is definitely a lot easier to carry without the shovel.

You will need to set a screw in the flagpole at the depth that you want your flagpole to sit in the shovel. This will prevent your flag from sinking into the shovel handle. I recommend somewhere between 12” and 16” up from the bottom.

Attaching the flag

I did not have any success using zip ties to attach the flag. The flag grommets tore almost immediately on the first windy day that we had them out. Screws with washers did not work well either.

On my last attempt, I drilled a 3/16” hole through the flagpole about 2” from the top and another about 34” down, based entirely on the dimensions of my flag. Then I bent a thick piece of wire in the shape of a triangle, wrapped it through the flag grommet, and set the wire ends into the two holes that I had drilled, as shown in the image. A 16d framing nail with the head cut off would work perfectly for this.

This method seems to work alright. The flag is loose and able to move freely in the wind. But it is still not ideal. I would love to find a proper set of flag pole rings small enough to fit the ½” EMT. 360° swivels would definitely take this to the next level. But so far, my search has gone fruitless.

Drilling The Hole In The Shovel Endcap

The best way that I’ve tried to drill the hole was with a Step Drill Bit large enough to drill a ⅝” hole. These bits can be found at most hardware stores and home centers.

  1. Secure the shovel in a vice.
  2. Center the drill bit and begin drilling slowly.

As the size of the hole starts getting close, check it with your flagpole. For the best result, you want the flagpole to fit snuggly in the endcap.

Sometimes the endcaps are not glued, so if it is loose, you might need to glue or epoxy it in place once your hole has been drilled.


I’ve seen some impressive Shovel Flag designs. But most of them tend to use vinyl lettering. This is one area that I did not spend a lot of effort. I’d love to hear more about how other regions are sprucing up their shovels.

Tips, Tricks, and Pitfalls


Once you’ve rolled up your flag, how do you store it with your shovel, so it is easy to grab and go when you’re heading out into the gloom? I’ve tried the velcro, but it just doesn’t last long. I’ve tried the Ranger Bands, but they are too difficult to put on. 

That is when I stumbled upon the 6” Canopy Bungee Ball… Ideal for tethering the flag to the shovel. And since they are a continuous loop, you can simply drop them over the shovel handle when it’s in use so they won’t get lost in the dark.