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When you need to buy a shovel, don’t just go picking one off the shelf at random or selecting one according to what is the cheapest. Shovels by their nature take a lot of strain, so make sure you buy the strongest, best-made one you can afford.
DIYMaster shows you in a 4 min, 43 second video on Life Videopedia just what to look for. He does this the best way possible, by comparing an inferior No 2 shovel with a strong and well-made one. As the DIYMaster says, “Shovels are the most frequently used tool, but they do come in a bewildering array of sizes and quality types.” That sums up the reason you should look at this video before taking the seemingly pedestrian step of going out to buy a shovel.
I learned a few fascinating facts from DIYMaster, who certainly knows his shovels. The most commonly used size shovel is a number 2 shovel (the size he demonstrates in the video). Your shovel should be appropriate to your age, strength, state of health and the task you envisage for the shovel.
Then there are two basic ways in which these shovels are constructed. (This is really interesting.) There is the hollow head type, which is beaten steel with a handle pushed through the frog-like fitting at the end of the head. And then there is the super-strong and properly made type, the forged steel type which is manufactured at high heat (1600 to 2000 degrees) and formed into a shape. These forged shovels are heavier and denser than the sheet metal type, really good for heavy duty work and long life. The forged type has a strong, hollow tube into which the handle fits snuggly so no water and dirt gets in to promote perishing. A really good shovel will have a tube that does not end straight where the wooden handle enters but has a tail-tab with an extra rivet for extra rivet. Watch the video for details of this vital characteristic of a good shovel. Finally, the handle should be good, clean, straight-grained piece of lumber, usually American ash, with the grain running parallel to your leg, straight down to the shovel-head for extra strength. And make sure the handle is the right height for you. A shovel should be as custom-made for yourself and your task as it possibly can be without going to an ironsmith to have one made.