How to choose the right shovel: according to model and use

How to choose the right shovel

A shovel is designed to move loose material, such as soil, sand or gravel. We therefore recommend choosing a shovel based on the type of material that you want to move and what you want to use it for. As with spades, there are many types of shovels.

Tip 1 Types of shovels and their uses

Shovels with a curved cutting edge

1. Sand shovel

This is the most used shovel in Belgium.  With its curved cutting edge and slightly spoon-shaped blade, the sand shovel is suitable for shovelling loose material such as soil, sand, gravel, mortar, etc. The sand shovel can also be used for light excavation work to level or smooth the soil. You will find this type of shovel on most construction sites and in the basic gardening kit of every gardener.

2. Cable shovel

A cable shovel is a very narrow sand shovel, that is 12 to 16 cm wide. This type of shovel is mainly used for laying cables or water pipes. It is ideally suited for shovelling soil from trenches that were dug with a cable spade.  It can also be used to dig narrow trenches and for drainage works.

3. Dutch shovel

The Dutch shovel is mainly used in the Netherlands, as its name indicates. It has a smaller blade than a regular sand shovel. The blade is also slightly curved or scooped, ensuring the soil stays on it more easily. Depending on the region, there are two different types of Dutch shovels: one looks more like a sand shovel (Holland) while the other has flattened edges (Drenthe). Both types have a slightly curved cutting edge.

The position of the socket can be different on Dutch shovels, depending on what they are used for. Dutch shovels with an almost straight socket are mainly used as spades for digging in light sandy soils.
The socket of a scoop shovel stands at a slight angle, making it more suited for shovelling sand, gravel, soil and other loose material.
Dutch shovels are available in different sizes and types. The choice is often region-specific or depends on the type of soil. We recommend using a Dutch shovel with a smaller blade in heavy soil.

Polet has added footrests to some of its Dutch shovels. This results in less wear and tear of shoe soles while working.

Shovels with a straight cutting edge

1. Concrete shovels

A concrete shovel has a straight cutting edge and an angled socket. The position of the shaft in relation to the angle is important. If the angle of the socket is 55 mm, the shovel is especially useful for shovelling sand, mortar and concrete from a level surface. It is also a good option for emptying mortar vats and levelling soil. If you choose the model with the straight edges, you can shovel right up to the sides. A concrete shovel has a scooped blade with raised edges, ensuring the material stays on the blade while shovelling.

But you can also buy models with rounded edges, which make shovelling soil from a trailer or a wheelbarrow easier.

As you may have guessed, these shovels are perfect for use on construction sites and for roadway construction.

2. Hollstein concrete shovel

The Hollstein concrete shovel is a typically German model, with a deeper mouth and folded sides, that extend to the straight cutting edge. As such, they are perfectly suited for shovelling large amounts of fine, soft material, such as soil and sand.

Pointed shovels

1. Swan neck shovel

Shovels with a pointed cutting edge or tip are mainly used in regions with rocky soil, such as in France or Germany. The French swan neck shovel owes its name to the swan neck shape of the socket in which the straight shaft is inserted.

This shovel is ideally suited for shovelling rock, gravel, rubble, etc.

A variant of the swan neck shovel is the square shovel, with a straight flat cutting edge, which is also often used as a concrete shovel.

2. German/Frankfurter shovels

German or Frankfurter shovels are also suitable for working in rocky soil because of their pointed blade. The scooped blade has raised edges.

Square shovels

1. Ballast shovels

Ballast shovels have an almost square blade. The blade is also larger compared with most other shovels. They are ideally suited for clearing and shovelling lighter material such as animal feed, leaves and snow.
Polet sells them in two sizes: number 2 - 320 x 260 mm and number 4 - 340 x 280 mm. 

These shovels have a black, lacquered blade and a 95-cm handle with a D grip.

Aluminium shovels

1. Aluminium shovels

Besides shovels made from high-quality alloy steel, you can also buy high-quality aluminium shovels. These shovels have a relatively large blade and are mainly used to shovel lighter materials such as grains, animal feed and snow. Because aluminium is a softer material, these shovels tend to wear out faster. To prevent this, the blade can be reinforced with a steel wear strip.

Depending on what you will use it for, you can choose from different types of aluminium shovels. Ballast shovels have a rectangular blade. Grain shovels tend to be more spoon-shaped and have rounded edges. Coal shovels and edging shovels have a square blade.

2. Snow shovels and snow scoops

There are two basic models of shovels for clearing snow. Snow scoops are used to pick up and clear the snow, especially when there is lots of snow.  If you are just pushing away the snow, use a snow shovel. In that case, you merely clear the snow out of the way, instead of scooping it up.

Snow shovels and snow scoops can be quite wide (40 to 50 cm) and may be made from aluminium or plastic. The aluminium version is sturdier but more expensive. The plastic versions are lighter. Snow shovels and snow scoops should also be fitted with a wear strip to reinforce the blade. Snow scoops and snow shovels with a long shaft are the most ergonomic option. A D grip is a plus.

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