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How to choose the best shovel for you?

How to choose the best shovel for you

Shop for Shovels

Researching any topic can be daunting and the lowly shovel is no exception. This section summarises the main points to consider when buying a shovel. As we have seen, there is no clear-cut answer. It depends on your frame and the task you wish to do. There are four main things to consider that will contribute to the functionality of the shovel and your physical well-being.
 Wonkee Donkee says 'Look for a shovel that will offer a compromise between maximum performance and maximum comfort'

1) Match your strength 

If don't need spinach and you're strong already, go for a robust, all steel shovel. If you’re not particularly powerful, then opt for a plastic or aluminium blade with a small scoop and a wooden shaft that won’t wear you out during prolonged periods.

For a stronger person, a steel blade with a wider scoop and a fibreglass or steel shaft will stand the test of time while offering maximum performance.

2) Match your height

Don't struggle with a shovel that is too long or too short. Someone tall using a short shovel is back pain in the making. Opt for a shovel of around 1.4m (54″) or over in length.

Likewise, using a shovel with too long a shaft and you will not be able to obtain enough leverage to lift without straining. For petite frames, an overall length of 760mm (30″) is suitable. The ideal length of a shovel should be mid-chest height.

3) Match your hands

The new ergonomic shovel says 'Grip me too hard and I'll squash your thumb.' If you have ever suffered from arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, you will understand the need for comfort. Most shovels are fitted with a D or T-grip at the end of the shaft. Either style offers support. However, if you have very large hands and are unable to find a large enough D-grip to accommodate them then you may find the T-grip a better choice.
The T shaped handle grip is curved downwards for an improved fit and comfort Some users also prefer the T-grip to be more rounded and have a slight downward angle than the traditional straight T-shape. Look for cushioned grips for comfort.

4) Match the job

The three basic shapes of blade

Consider the shape of the blade in relation to the task

For example, a square mouth blade has been designed predominantly for shifting loose material. However, its square design would struggle when digging and cutting into compacted material.

It is tempting to overload a wide, deep scoop when shovelling heavy, wet material such as snow

The size of the blade should be taken into account when shovelling

For example, a blade with a wide, deep scoop is ideal for shifting loose, dry material such as sand, grain or ash. Whereas heavy, wet or compacted material such as snow or cement is better suited to a narrower blade to avoid overburdening your body.

Remember, a 'flat' blade (low lift) with a minimal angle is suited to digging whereas an 'angled' blade (high lift) will give the extra rise needed when shovelling.

Check the angle of the blade

Remember, a ‘flat’ blade (low lift) with a minimal angle is suited to digging. Whereas an ‘angled’ blade (high lift) will give the extra rise needed when shovelling.

A plastic shovel is at the low end of the price range

Consider what the blade is made from

Plastic is ideal for shovelling loose material such as snow and grain. It is also extremely lightweight for those with small frames. Although it won’t offer long-term use, neither will it break the bank.

A steel shovel is ideal for heavy duty shovelling such as cement mixing If your budget and strength allow, opt for a strong steel blade for heavy digging or shovelling dense material.
Aluminium is both lightweight and durable enough for most gardening tasks An aluminium blade is suitable for most shovelling and basic gardening tasks. It offers the right balance between weight, durability and value for money.
Which material you choose depends on what your needs are. Check the pros and cons of each material before you make up your mind.

Consider what the shaft is made from

A choice of wood, fibreglass or steel will usually make up the shaft.  All three materials offer quality, performance and a long life although each have their own pros and cons. For instance, fibreglass is weatherproof and resistant to splintering and rusting unlike wood. However, wood is lightweight and is supple enough to eventually mould to your grip.

Solid socket - from the back

How is the blade attached to the shaft?

This is particularly important if you opt for a steel blade. If your budget allows, choose a solid socket connection over an open socket as this will stand up to continuous, heavy-duty use.

Consider the length of the shaft for the task

For digging deep holes and trenches, an extra-long shovel will save you hours of bending over whereas a short shovel is perfect for working in small areas or in a greenhouse.

There are many models to choose from: shop wisely.

And finally…

…if your budget allows, invest in multiple models with varied applications in mind.

Wonkee Donkee Tools