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Is shovel blade angle important?

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Blades vary from nearly straight (low lift), to sharply angled (high lift).
The angle of the blade in relation to the shaft is important. This is known as the blade’s ‘lift’.

The lift of a blade is the distance from the ground to the end of the handle grip when the blade is flat on the ground.

Blades vary from nearly straight (low lift), to sharply angled (high lift). As is always the case with hand shovels, the one you choose depends on what you want the shovel to do.

A ‘flat’ blade (or low blade lift)

A 'flat' blade with minimal or no angle will help you create smoother walls and reduce user fatigue.
When digging or breaking up compact or solid material, the shaft and the blade should be in as straight a line as possible.

A ‘flat’ blade with minimal or no angle will help you create smoother walls and reduce user fatigue.

A low lift blade is ideal for digging

Shovels with a flat blade is most suitable for:

Digging, especially straight-edged trenches and cutting through snow drifts, flower beds as well as lawns and landscaping.

A shovel with minimal or no angle is not as effective when lifting a load off the ground. However, a shovel with minimal or no angle is not as effective when lifting a load off the ground.

Imagine trying to scoop loose earth with a flat blade – You would have to bend your back quite significantly to hold the blade flat on the ground and shovel.

An angled blade (or high blade lift)

A shovel with an angled blade (usually between 40 and 45 degrees) gives improved leverage and power to shovel material from the ground. A shovel with an angled blade (usually between 40 and 45 degrees) gives improved leverage and power to shovel material from the ground.

Again, imagine holding a loaded blade horizontal to the ground prior to lifting.

As the shaft is at an angle, that is, higher above the ground, the user does not need to bend as much when lifting the shovel.

You don't need to bend as much to lift the shovel

An angled blade is best for:

Shovelling and lifting bulk material as the blade is designed to ensure that material stays put as it’s being transferred around.

However, an angled blade is not as efficient when digging straight down into soil. You would have to hold the blade awkwardly and at some distance from you to keep it vertically above the ground.

Ideal blade lifts

The blade lift measurement is not usually stated on any product description by the manufacturers.

However, you can check the lift yourself by measuring the distance from the floor to the end of the handle as the blade is placed flat on the ground.

For a shovel with a shaft 1200mm (52 in.) long, the blade lift should be a minimum of 800 mm (32″) for a high-lift blade, and a maximum of 560 mm (22″) for a low-lift blade.