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What are shovel shafts made of?

Shop for Shovels

Plastic and aluminium shovels are light enough for most frames to use
Shovels with plastic blades usually have shafts made from either plastic or wood.

For aluminium shovels, the shaft is generally aluminium or wood.

These materials are known for their lightweight properties and are suitable for tasks such as shovelling snow, grain and other bulk materials.

Backstrain caused by a heavy shovel Where the blade is made from steel, the shaft is constructed from one of three materials:

1. Wood

2. Fibreglass

3. Steel

When choosing between materials, bear in mind that the weight of the shovel should ultimately be the deciding factor for those with smaller frames.

Wooden shafts

Wooden shafts are made from a hardwood such as ash or hickory.
Wooden shaft

Advantages

  • Lightweight and supple, a wooden shaft will last many years if regularly maintained.
  • It is easy to replace once it becomes worn or damaged, and can be sanded and repaired with glue if the damage is minor.
Have you got a screw loose? If so, tighten it up.

Disadvantages

  • Wood is not as weatherproof as fibreglass. It expands and contracts with the weather and is prone to cracking, splitting and rotting if not properly cared for.
  • The shaft can become loose so keep a check on the screws joining the shaft to the socket.

Fibreglass shafts

Fibreglass is a reinforced plastic material composed of glass fibres.
A shaft made of fibreglass

Advantages

  • Fibreglass is the most durable of all types of handle and requires little or no maintenance.
  • Robust and water-resistant, it does not shrink or expand with humidity, rust in damp conditions or break as easily as wood.
  • It also acts as an electrical insulator, making shovels with fibreglass handles useful for laying cables.
Fibreglass is heavier than wood, which is ideal if you need the extra power when cutting into roots or hard ground, but where weight is a concern, fibreglass may cause strain.

Disadvantages

  • Fibreglass is heavier than wood, which is ideal if you need the extra power when cutting into roots or hard ground, but where weight is a concern, fibreglass may cause strain.
  • If it does break, a fibreglass shaft is harder to replace than wood and replacement handles are not widely available.
  • Unlike wood, fibreglass does not absorb shock or vibrations.

Steel shafts

Some shovels have shafts composed of rolled (or tubular) steel welded into the steel head.
Some shovels have shafts composed of rolled (or tubular) steel welded into the steel head.

Advantages

  • Steel is sturdy and strong. It is designed for industrial applications, heavier usage on professional building sites, or where the weight of the shovel is not a problem.
  • A shovel with a steel shaft is usually less expensive than a shaft made of fibreglass.
Take care around live cables

Disadvantages

  • Steel shovels are the heaviest of all shovels.
  • Steel conducts electricity and, unless you have an insulated shovel, should not be used near live cables. In addition, it does not absorb shock like wood.
  • Although a steel shovel is designed not to break under rigorous on-site conditions, if it does snap, it is not possible to replace.