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What is a trenching shovel?

What is a trenching shovel?

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This particular version resembles a taper mouth As you would expect, the trenching shovel is designed for digging and clearing trenches.

Some trenching shovels have long, slim and pointed blades, while others have a taper mouth blade, which is slightly narrower at the cutting edge than at its shoulder.

Long slender blade with ‘V-shaped’ edge

The blade is slimmer with a V shaped point 
The pointed tip is generally used for digging and planting in soft, tilled (already prepared) soil.

Some trenching shovels have blade lengths up to 400mm (16″) – ideal for digging deep channels for a vegetable garden, for example.

Its slim blade means that less soil will be taken out, giving a neat finish to your digging.

Taper mouth blade

The blade resembles a taper mouth where it is narrower at the cutting edge than at its shoulder. In this case, the sharp but flat tip is used for denser and hard packed soils, which demand more force to penetrate.

The slightly wider blade is also useful for carrying large quantities of excavated material out of the way.

A trenching shovel with a solid socket connection 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.

Whichever design you choose, look for sharp blades and squared sides to produce neat trench walls and to reduce disruption to the surrounding soil.

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 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

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