Spade vs Shovel: What’re their Differences and which one should you Choose

Who’s guilty of actually not knowing that a spade and a shovel are two separate gardening tools? Well, I once was, so include me on that guilty list. This is a spade vs shovel article and obviously, we will figure out the main differences between these two valuable garden tools.

They are both super useful mainly in gardening and farming. These tools are a must-have when you dig a lot so with that being said, let’s dig in deeper and find out which one is best for you (Pro TIP: You can have both).

Quick facts!

Let’s start our spade vs shovel debate with some quick facts to give everyone a good overview of what our discussion is going to be about.

First off – spade and shovel definitions!

Spade vs Shovel

What is a spade?

Spades come in different shapes and sizes. This term may not be as popular as the shovel because based on our observation people tend to call a spade a shovel more than the contrary. But that doesn’t mean that this tool is less utilized than its counterpart.

A spade is mostly a metal digging tool that is flat and has a sharp edge. This allows for the spade to be used for not only digging and also for moving dirt, debris, or other similar materials.

Some spade blades have a rectangular shape, while many others are usually sharply pointed as this can increase the penetrating ability of the tool. A metal footrest is utilized and positioned on the sides of the handle as an additional aid when digging or breaking through the tough ground. This should allow you to push it further into the earth using your feet.

Drain spades and trenching spades, have narrower features and longer blades. As the name indicates these types of spades are meant for digging drains and trenches.

What is a shovel?

As mentioned above, the name shovel may have been used to refer not just a spade but some other digging tools as well. And for a good reason, it’s popular because of its versatility, usefulness, and toughness that even if you’re someone who doesn’t do gardening or farming at all, you’d want to have this tool in your shed.

In a nutshell, a shovel is primarily used for scooping and then moving various materials from one place to another. Shovels are mostly larger than spades because it needs to move more material with each scoop.

Some shovels are made of plastic which is needless to say, not meant for tough dirt-digging. Take a plastic snow shovel for example.

A metal digging shovel is a type that is closer to a spade. It is characterized by a rounder blade that’s a little bit like a spade and that falls in between the sharply pointed and flat blades that are utilized for spades.

 

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Spade vs Shovel

Spade vs Shovel tale of the tape:

SpadeShovel
Bowl-shaped or concave blade shape. Rounded or pointed tip.The blade is flat and has a straight edge
Long or straight shaft/handleShorter shaft with a T or D handle
The blade is usually largerSmaller blade size
Best for digging, turning, and breaking up soil Slices are best to soil or roots. Utilized best when moving soil or other materials from one place to another

Spade vs Shovel Differences (Weight, Cost, and Materials)


Moving on with our spade vs shovel debate!

Spades need to break even the toughest grounds so it’s relatively made of a more heavy-duty steel blade to do its job. It’s also infused with a steel or a wooden handle which can also take a beating.

Shovels on the other hand, while being relatively under less stress can be made of thinner or lesser quality steel. But this tool as mentioned needs to also be tough and versatile, so don’t underestimate its quality. Some smaller types are also made of plastic.

Shovel blades can also bend at times which is quite rare for spades.

As far as the price or cost is concerned, it doesn’t depend on the tool but rather the price tag depends on the overall quality. Needless to say, high-quality tools are more expensive but fret not, as spades and shovels can be yours at a cheaper price but in good quality.

One is not necessarily known to be cheaper or more expensive than the other.
 
Wooden tools are strong and add that classic look but splinters in age. Fiberglass is pricey but doesn’t wear down easily. Steel is bulletproof but can be heavy. Lastly, Aluminum is cheap the same as plastic but bends or breaks easily.

 

Let’s talk about the Parts!

We’re going to go down to the nitty-gritty details in our spade vs shovel comparison just so we can properly illustrate the differences between these two digging tools.

Spade vs Shovel

The Blade

A spade has a relatively flat blade and has straight edges. It’s also smaller than a shovel’s but of course, it varies. The blade is in line with its shaft, as opposed to being angled forward.

A shovel, on the other hand, has a broader blade that is angled inwards from left to right. It also has a pointed or rounded at the tip.

The blade shape and length varies depending on the purpose. There are shovels with extra-long blades and saw-tooth edges that have ledges down the sides. Shovel blades are larger than that of a spade.

The Handle

A shorter shaft tends to work best with a spade as it comes in handy when you’re working in tight spaces or hard to reach areas, like a flowerbed. Spades have either a T-shaped or DY-shaped handle for more options of holding it.
A shovel on the other hand usually has a long and straight handle that enables the user to get a lot of leverage when working on deeper holes.

Shape

In terms of shape, the spade tends to be straighter as compared to a shovel from the handle to the blade tip. The shovel blade is usually forward, while the spade blade is not.

The angle makes the biggest difference in terms of the functionality between these two. The angled blade makes the shovel more efficient for digging or cooping and the straighter blade makes the spade better for slicing and lifting sod among other heavy-duty tasks it can do.

Some other parts to consider which may not vary much on either of the tools we are discussing is the collar (where the blade meets the handle), the grip (of the handle), and the kick step.

So which one should you choose?

Now that you know all about the spade vs shovel then you can come up with a better decision on which one to buy. Again, these two are practically interchangeable when it comes to functionality in general so no matter which one you choose, it would still be a good decision.

What matters here is that you take into consideration the extent of the tasks that you need to do with a spade or a shovel. And what we mean by this is that you consider whether it’s going to be a pretty heavy digging, gardening, or farming job or if it’s just the usual day to day stuff.

Serious and strenuous tasks require you to be more efficient. Thus you need to use the proper tool, not just to be efficient but also to not put too much toll on your body. So pick a spade should you need to break through the tougher ground and pick a shovel if you have a lot of scooping to do. It’s that simple and straightforward.

Different Types of Spade and Shovels

This is our bonus section and here we list down some common types of shovels for you to choose from. Spades pretty much just vary in shape (a little bit) and its sizing, so it doesn’t have much variety. (TRIVIA: The shovel pretty much stole its properties from a spade)

  • Trench Shovel
    ⇒Trench shovels are often called cleanout shovels. It’s got a long and narrow blade and a sharper curve. As the name indicates, its primary use is to define and clean out trenches.
  • Flat Shovel
    ⇒This shovel is primarily used to scoop and transfer materials.
  • Edging Shovel
    ⇒This type of shovel is used for edging grass and garden beds.
  • Digging Shovel
    ⇒ Categorized into pointed diggers, round diggers, and square diggers. Choose which suites you need accordingly.
  • Scoop Shovel
    ⇒Broad shovels made for well — scooping.
  • Mini and Handheld Shovel
    ⇒ Gardener’s assistant!

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Final Thoughts

Did you come up with an answer to your question as to which of these digging tools to go for? The spade vs shovel debate has been going on for quite some time now, but to be honest they are both so versatile and indeed interchangeable that if you’re not a purist you can just use either and they’ll both perform well.

They are both nice must-have tools that could lend and is up for any task. No matter what your decision may be, just be sure to pick up at least one and stay safe!

Who’s guilty of actually not knowing that a spade and a shovel are two separate gardening tools? Well, I once was, so include me on that guilty list. This is a spade vs shovel article and obviously, we will figure out the main differences between these two valuable garden tools.

They are both super useful mainly in gardening and farming. These tools are a must-have when you dig a lot so with that being said, let’s dig in deeper and find out which one is best for you (Pro TIP: You can have both).

 

 

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