What are the Different Types of Shovel?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

A shovel is a long-handled tool with a scooping blade. It is used to dig and move material. There are several types of shovels, each designed for a specific task or tasks. Some shovels that are used for digging earth have "foot treads" on the top of the blade, flattened areas on which to rest one's foot to add extra force. Shovels are also available with a variety of handle lengths and handles.

Some shovels are designed for shoveling snow.
Some shovels are designed for shoveling snow.

Barn Shovel. A big, industrial-strength shovel for moving grain or snow or doing clean up is sometimes called a barn shovel. These shovels usually have a flat leading edge and are notably deep, with high sides to steady the load.

Garden shovels help dig holes and move small amounts of dirt for planting.
Garden shovels help dig holes and move small amounts of dirt for planting.

Coal Shovel. A coal shovel is used to move piles of coal or to move coal from storage to a hod or other coal carrier. It has a wide flat edge and its blade is flat in the center and curved sharply at the sides. Coal shovels are available with shorter or longer handles.

Garden Shovel. Garden shovels differ from spades in both construction and purpose. The blade of a spade extends nearly straight down from the handle, suiting it for working the soil, but not for lifting and moving it. Shovels, with the curved attachment -- called a lift -- between the blade and the handle, allow the user to lever the load.

Standard garden shovels are round-point shovels with a blade that is about 8 inches wide and 12 long (20 x 30 cm.). It is somewhat curved at the edge to help maintain the load. Floral shovels are made to move a bit more delicately within a flower bed, and so are smaller. Square-point shovels, which have a flat bottom edge, are designed for collecting and lifting already loosened material, not for digging.

Snow Shovel. Snow shovels may have blades of metal or plastic, and the blades often have ridges. Some snow shovel blades are quite flat, while others have more of a curve from bottom to top. There are handle variations, such as tee-shaped handles and handles with curves meant to make them ergonomically sounder, and snow shovels designed to push snow as well as dig and lift it. Some of these latter shovel types have and u-shaped handles that one holds with both hands.

Coal shovels are square-shaped.
Coal shovels are square-shaped.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments

turtlez

Garden shovels shouldn't be difficult to use. They also come in ergonomic designs as well, but the truth of the matter is that gardening will almost always have you hunched over your sprouts. Anyway, garden shovels won't get you out of a pinch when it comes to party trash, but you can definitely test them out or hold them before you buy them.

lmorales

@leiliahrune - Many companies are also making a snow shovel with wheels now, also. It's kind of like having a mini-plow, but it's not gas powered. A push snow shovel like the one with wheels are tough to shop for because you never know how they will hold up until that first snowfall. The good news, though, is they are great for plowing through trash after a party.

leiliahrune

@spasiba - I love snow, but I *hate* shoveling it! They actually make an ergonomic snow shovel now that can help save your back and wrists if the snow piles get too high. Ergonomics are quickly becoming an important part of every day life and if the piles get too heavy for you, you might want to consider buying one!

spasiba

I just used a snow shovel, it is big but light and easy to use. It has to be big to move all those piles of snow in your driveway and walkway.

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