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Choose the Shovel for the Soil Type

By Skiekitty
December 27, 2013

If you live in rocky soil / hard clay, use a fiberglass shovel to dig. The right tool for the job!

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Charter ATP Member
Dec 27, 2013 8:38 AM CST

The Razorback round nose shovel (such as # 45519) is the one I used for some 20 years digging red clay on archaeological sites along the Tennessee River. I would prefer an ash handle, sanded and oiled with linseed oil for digging hour after hour on a daily basis. I haven't tried a fiberglas handle under working -sweaty conditions at 100 degrees hour after hour in an Alabama soybean field.

This one is described as a "rolled step". You want a flat step on the shoulder of the shovel for accuracy. We cut off the nose of the shovel with a grinder to about 10 cm. The resulting edge is kept razor sharp with a bastard file. The edge is filed from the top or concave side of the shovel in long strokes in one direction. Ne ver sharpen the back of a shovel! This is the shovel used in professional archaeological excavations to shovel skim (clear surface), and for vertical slicing, cutting levels (usually in 10 or 20 cm slices), and just plain moving dirt.

A shovel used on a regular basis does not get rusty. But today I keep a spray can of canola oil in the tool shed to apply to the blade of my shovel if Im not using it regularly.

My Razorback is now more than 50 years old. Ive had other shovels over the years, but this is the one I still choose if I have shoveling to do.

One final word of advice. Never ask to borrow my shovel. A tool gets to be a personal extension of yourself after years of use.

Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
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Dec 28, 2013 8:22 AM CST
Hazelnut, you gave a great tip when you said: "I keep a spray can of canola oil in the tool shed to apply to the blade of my shovel if I'm not using it regularly."

Charter ATP Member
Dec 28, 2013 9:43 AM CST
I prefer to use canola rather than motor oil on my shovel (and masons trowels which we also use in excavation) since it is non toxic--very adaptable for use in the vegetable garden and around children and pets.
[Last edited by hazelnut - Dec 28, 2013 6:19 PM (+)]
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Name: Toni
Denver Metro (Zone 5a)
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
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Dec 28, 2013 10:35 PM CST
Plus canola oil is much cheaper and doesn't smell like an old Monkey-Mechanic's shop!

My favorite shovel is this one:

Love that one, especially when I have tight places to be digging in!!
Roses are one of my passions! Just opened, my Etsy shop (to fund my rose hobby)!

Charter ATP Member
Dec 29, 2013 12:31 PM CST
Those narrow trenching shovels are sometimes called "sharp shooters". They are made for digging narrow drainage ditches.

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