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What is a drainage shovel?

What is a drainage shovel?

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Ideal for digging channels for irrigation work
A drainage shovel is used for digging long, narrow channels for drainage pipes, irrigation work and for laying cables.

The long blade tapers towards the end and penetrates easily through hard, heavy earth.

Its slim shape means that less soil will be taken out, giving a neat finish to your trench digging. However, it is unsuitable for prolonged shovelling.

The blade

Typical blade dimensions of a draining shovel blade The width of the blade is generally around 90mm (3.5″) at its cutting edge while the height can be anything from 350mm (14″) to 400mm (16″)

Look for blades with rounded corners at the cutting edge to reduce the risk of damage to pipes and cables.

Some blades also have a tread on the top to give a better foothold when digging.

Draining shovel with a D-grip The most robust heads (the blade and the socket) are forged from one piece of steel, which means that the shaft-to-socket connection is either a solid socket or, less commonly, a strapped socket connection.

The cheaper open socket blades tend to break easily under continual use.

  Wonkee Donkee says 'A solid socket means that head is forged from one piece of steel rather than stamped out of a thin sheet like an open socket, which creates a weak point at the neck. A solid socket connection is much sturdier.'
Solid strapped connection On the other hand, on a shovel with a strapped socket, the shaft is held in place with two straps. Strapped shovels are usually the most expensive but perform better than solid socket shovels.

For more information on socket connections, please see our section: How is the blade attached to the shaft?

The shaft

This will prevent water from entering any open points, lessening any damage A steel shovel should have high quality welds (metal joins) that have no open points to allow water to enter. This will reduce the risk of internal rust and damage.

There should not be any fractured seams: welds must look immaculate and as smooth as possible.


The shaft is normally the standard length of 700mm (28″). Check with the manufacturer if you require longer lengths.

Use an insulated shaft when digging around live cables For working around live cables or power lines, use an insulated shaft.

For more information, please see our section: Insulated shovels

The Newcastle drainer shovel

A Newcastle Drainer features a blade with a wide tread (or collar) at the top edge. A slight variation on the ordinary drainer shovel, the Newcastle drainer shovel features a blade with a wide tread (or collar) at the top edge.

This provides a greater foothold for applying pressure in unusually hard soils as well as preventing your feet from bruising as you apply your weight to the shovel.

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