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What is a West Country shovel?

What is a West Country shovel?

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A multi-purpose shovel designed for heavy digging and shovelling This shovel was traditionally used in the West Country where it suited the moist climate. It has been designed for digging in particularly heavy, impenetrable soils where cultivation is more difficult.

Its long blade with a pointed tip is perfect for easy insertion and the curved sides can slice through solid soils and roots.

The blade’s wide design at the shoulder is also ideal for moving excavated soil out of the way and for shifting aggregate such as shingle, sand and gravel.

The blade

The blade is flat and wide with a V-shaped point at its cutting edge 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 length of the blade is usually around 300mm (12″) and 280mm (11″) at its widest point.

  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 on 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 extra-long, usually up to 1828mm (72 inches) The extra long shaft (usually without a handle grip) makes digging in heavy soils easier by using the power of levers. It also gives greater digging depth particularly if used in deep trenches.

The length of the shaft can be anything from 1.2m (48″) to 1.8m (72″).

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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