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Is shovel weight important?

Shop for Shovels

How much should a shovel weigh?

Check how much a shovel weighs before you buy it. Generally, the weight of a shovel varies from 1.5 to 3kg (3 to 6.5lb).

A large bag of sugar weighs one kilogram, so imagine holding a shovel that is the equivalent of three large bags of sugar before you’ve even done any shovelling!

The size of the blade and the length of the shaft combined with the materials that both the blade and shaft are made from will all contribute to a shovel’s overall weight.

Nineteenth century business wizard, Frederick Winslow Taylor calculated that the optimal shovel load for a manual labourer was 9½kg (21lb).
Wonkee Donkee says 'However, we're not all robust, young workhorses!'
Although most of us have an ideal weight that we can shovel for a continued period of time, this will differ according to our frame and strength.

When buying a shovel, consider the following:

Match the weight of the shovel to your frame

Save your energy and use the right shovel
We don’t need to go into the physics – a shovel that is too heavy will increase energy expenditure and reduce performance.

Therefore, reducing the weight of a heavy shovel, which is unproductive weight, will result in increased shovelling efficiency. Save your energy!

Match the weight of the shovel to the density of material

If you only have a one size shovel fits all then do make sure it matches your frame and strength. In his study on optimal shovel loads, Taylor handed out shovels specific to different materials but all of which were designed to hold 9½kg (21lb).

For example, lighter shovels with a smaller scoop for iron ore and larger, deeper scoops for ash. Previously, the workers used one shovel for loads of all kinds (usually their own.)

Taylor’s experiment resulted in the labourers increasing their individual daily shovelling rate from 16 to 59 tonnes.

Don't waste any more effort - use a larger scoop for light snowfall
In other words, if you are shovelling light material then you can afford the additional weight of a deep scoop to make faster work of shovelling.

For heavier material, use a lighter shovel and don’t overload your body.

For loose, dry material such as sand, grain and coal…

Use a heavier shovel with a deeper scoop.

For heavier, densely-compacted and wet material such as frozen snow…  

Use a lighter shovel with a smaller scoop.

 
As an alternative, you can save energy by asking someone else to do the shovelling!
You can see that the weight of a shovel is imperative when making your selection.

Find the right balance between maximising output while minimising physical strain.

Wonkee Donkee says 'It cannot be iterated enough - try the shovel for size before you buy.'