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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shovel with wide blade - especially appropriate for lifting snow or coal

A shovel is a tool for lifting and moving loose material such as coal, gravel, snow, soil, or sand and is an extremely common tool which is used extensively in agriculture, construction and gardening. It is usually a hand tool consisting of a broad blade with edges or sides that is fixed to a medium-length handle. Shovels are usually made of iron or steel and are very strong.

Hand shovel blades are typically made of sheet steel, folded at the back to make a socket for the handle. This fold also commonly provides extra rigidity to the blade. The handles are usually made of wood, although steel or even lightweight composite materials may also be used, and riveted in place. A T-piece is commonly fitted to the end of the handle to aid grip and control where the shovel is designed for moving soil and heavy materials. This design can be easily mass produced.

The term "shovel" is also applied to larger excavating machines, such as power shovels, which are designed for the same purpose—lifting and moving material, see Loader (equipment).

Hand shovels have been adapted for many different tasks and environments. They can be optimized for a single task or designed as cross-over or compromise tools to perform multiple tasks, for example:

  • A coal shovel typically has a wide, flat blade with steeply turned sides, a flat face and a short D-shaped handle.
  • A snow shovel often has a very wide sideless blade that curves upward attached to a long, straight handle. It is designed as much for pushing the snow as for lifting it. The blade can be metal or plastic, but the latter has been used to offer a lighter tool.
  • A grain shovel (also 'barn shovel') has a wide aluminium or plastic blade that is attached to a short hardwood handle with "D" top. This shovel has been designed to offer a lighter tool that does not damage the grain. Early models were made from timber.
  • A spoon shovel is a long bar with a small oval inclined blade at the end, used in excavating deep narrow holes.
  • A gardening trowel is a small single-hand implement for breaking up clumps in soil. Gardening trowels typically have strong, narrow blades with sharp points.
  • A roofing shovel is a specialized prying tool which evolved from the use of spading forks and pitchforks to remove old shingles and underlayment as part of roof repair.
  • In the 1800s shovels were called turf cutters and spades. They had cylinder-shaped wooden handles and metal triangle points at the end to dig with. Farmers used the shovels for digging up the ground on the farm and turning ground over to get richer soil. The shovels were handmade so they were all different sizes.
  • Toy shovels are common playthings on sandy beaches or in sandboxes.
  • Garden shovel used a spade like blade to dig into hard dirt
  • A scoop is a shovel-like tool, particularly one deep and curved, used in digging, the act of using such a tool, or a rough measure of volume equal to the carrying capacity of a scoop.
  • The shovel is one of the fire irons used in a fireplace. It is used to tend to the ashes.


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Simple English

[[File:|right|thumb|250px|Shovels]] A shovel is a tool used for digging. When it picks up the dirt, it makes a hole. They are usually made out of metal at the bottom, and wood is used for the handle.

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