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What are the different blade shapes?

What are the different blade shapes?

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Choosing and using the right blade

An example of the different shapes of blade available Shovels are made with different shaped blades for a reason. Try breaking into hard clay with the wrong shape blade and you will soon find out why!
There are three basic shapes of blade with variations of each type. As a rule of thumb, a blade with a rounded or tapered cutting edge is designed for digging, while a blade with a square edge is designed for scooping and shifting.

Round mouth

The blade is rounded at its cutting edge A round mouth is designed for general digging and shovelling. The rounded point at the cutting edge means that the force you use to push on the shovel is concentrated on the tip of the blade.

This means a round mouth has the cutting power to penetrate through most loose and semi-compacted materials.

Digging with a round mouth

A round mouth shovel is used for:

  • Digging into earth and plants roots
  • Breaking into compacted aggregate, such as mulch, silt and clay
  • Shovelling loose material and mixing concrete

However, round mouth shovels are unsuitable for levelling tasks such as giving a flat, even surface to flower beds or preparing soil for paving stones.

Square mouth (wide mouth or ballast shovel)

The blade of a square mouth shovel is wide with a straight edge In contrast to a round tip, the wide, flared blade of a square mouth means that force is spread out across the entire edge of the blade.

This makes square mouth shovels less suitable for digging work.

Ideal for heavy shovelling

A square mouth is used for:

  • Scooping and shifting large quantities of loose material such as sand, gravel and soil.
  • Levelling out sub soil or giving a flat, even surface to big clumps of soil and other material.
  • Mixing concrete and refilling trenches.

Please note: It is less suitable for digging.

This will give you a larger scoop when shovelling as it will cup and contain material as it is transferred about. When carrying out these sorts of applications, choose a square mouth shovel with turned up edges.

This will give you a larger scoop when shovelling as it will cup and contain material as it is transferred.

Remember our motto – minimum effort, maximum effect.

Taper mouth

The blade of a taper mouth is narrower at its tip that at the shoulder The blade of a taper mouth shovel is narrower at the cutting edge than it is at the shoulder.

As the blade tapers, its curved edges make it easy to penetrate hard ground.

The taper also allows the user to work in tight corners.

Digging with a taper mouth

A taper mouth is used for:

  • Digging, especially in hard ground
  • Working with tarmac and concrete
  • Cutting into and shovelling denser aggregate such as coarse gravel and crushed stone

Please note: It is generally considered an all-purpose tool.

A West country shovel has a wide, pointed blade and a very long shaft
Some shovels have been designed for specific tasks in mind.  They are generally modelled on one of the three blade shapes or will be a hybrid of several.

For example, based on a round mouth, the West Country shovel has a V-shaped tip for easy digging in compacted soils and a wide, flat blade for moving bulk material.

For more information, see our section: What are the different designs?

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