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Is it possible to buy a good shovel?

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  • #16
    Dunno, both of mine are from Ace hardware... Dads old shovel, hast to be almost 50 yrs old. And the shorter D-handle one that I bought from Ace, both with wood handles. No problems with either.
    25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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    • #17
      At the hardware store yesterday there was a guy asking about shovels. He wanted a 'good' one. The manager went and brought out a True Temper- looked like a decent shovel- $35- too much for the guy. It's hard to blame someone for wanting the good one for the price of a piece of crap- our economy has not been geared to making good things affordable to the average worker. We can't afford to buy 'made in USA' or 'made in Canada'- what's wrong with that needs to be fixed. Perhaps this pandemic will open some eyes- but perhaps not. I won't be holding my breath. Now that I'm retired and living way below the poverty line, how the heck am I supposed to buy local? Way too many people with full time jobs living paycheck to paycheck with nothing to fall back on-
      I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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      • #18
        I agree with True Temper. I like a good forged neck with a good wooden handle. My first came from one of those old time hardware stores where the proprietor knew everything about the hardware business. Purchased my first good True Temper with a forged neck when I was a young man. Finally wore it out. the blade got so thin, that it finally cracked up the middle. By this time, the old hardware store was gone. I looked and looked. Finally, I walked in an old time store in Evansville that had a good line of shovels. Bought the best they had, a heavy, forged neck and blade made in England. It cost about $75.00 about twenty years ago. Its a little heavier than my old True Temper, but it will last me the rest of my life, I think, maybe not, i'm only 79, who knows, someday I may be looking for another one.
        Sarge41

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        • #19
          Yep, forged neck, and wood handle. And usually the riveted on foot pieces, so you have something real to step on. They are heavier, but they stay good if the handle holds.

          I've broken a number of wood shovel handles on those. Don't like the stamped ones, although I do have an old true temper D-handle spade that I bought in the 1970s. That one the blade will bend backward, and then spring back to normal when you release the pressure, if you get too enthusiastic. Only one I have ever seen do that.

          Maybe I am an abuser of shovels. I have bent a 1" or so digging bar, even though I am not that big of a guy. Still have not bent that back how it belongs, though.
          Last edited by J Tiers; 05-17-2020, 11:22 PM.
          CNC machines only go through the motions

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          • #20
            Long ago there was a line of hardware that I always thought of as good quality, "Blue Grass." Anybody else remember that name? I'm pretty sure they were out of Louisville, KY. I don't know that it was necessarily an absolute top end brand, never really thought about it that way back then.
            Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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            • #21
              Off track, but related to the Ames brothers. Google the Ames Monument located near Buford, WY. An interesting story and an off-beat place to visit.

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              • #22
                The Men's Shed often get given garden tools with a broken handle and told all we have to do is get a new handle and sell it for a profit. Trouble is Lidl sell a new stainless tool for less than the wood. Heck the spade was so cheap from them I could have bought another just for the steel as stock, and the ash handle is a sensible size. I remember an article in model engineer once recommended finding a worn out fireman's shovel because the blade would have been worn to a taper which was required for the part.

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                • #23
                  I'm a big fan of the Ames brand BUT I don't know if they are still USA made. I have not purchased a shovel in decades and they were not chinese made then so?
                  I've ruined some handles by poor care and replaced them with some very thick walled aluminum tubing I happened to have and these handles are great IMO.

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                  • #24
                    Ha! Few years ago i bought a new shovel that looked pretty good to me at the store. Thought the fiber glass handle would be a good thing. I think it was either Lowes or HD. My yard is hard clay and in summer is more like concrete.

                    I got home, donned my hard soled boots, set the shovel point, hopped up and came down.....and SNAP, the darned thing did an instant bend, fold, snap right across the face of the shovel blade. I went over on my face riding the fancy fiber glass handle the whole way down. Oddly, I really had to laugh at this. I'd guess that there was a flaw, or an unseen crack. Tossed it out and got one from a local Ace store that still works pretty good although its a bit heavy.

                    Something has definitely been lost in shovel manufacture. They're heavier and like others say, become a focal point of the work instead of a tool to make the work as efficient as possible.

                    S E Michigan

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                    • #25
                      I still have a couple decent shovels but if I decide I need another one, it will have an engine to power it.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by RMinMN View Post
                        I still have a couple decent shovels but if I decide I need another one, it will have an engine to power it.
                        Those actually exist, for digging shrubs and small trees to be balled and burlapped. It's called a Dyna-Diggr.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by lynnl View Post
                          Long ago there was a line of hardware that I always thought of as good quality, "Blue Grass." Anybody else remember that name? I'm pretty sure they were out of Louisville, KY. I don't know that it was necessarily an absolute top end brand, never really thought about it that way back then.
                          The Blue Grass line of tools was a line of tools from the Belknap Hardware company in Louisville, Ky. At one time they owned the tallest building in Louisville. They were a major competitor of Sears and Montgomery Ward. Went belly up sometime in the 1980's.

                          Sarge41

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                          • #28
                            Went through this when we bought our place in 2010 and I needed my own yard tools. Spent more money on a shovel than I want to admit after looking through quite a few, and it broke within a few uses. Have replaced it, and picked up many more at yard sales and auctions over the years and some are probably older than I am. Check for straight grain on the handle, the grain orientation (perpendicular to cutting edge), and whether it's hardwood or soft wood. Fast growing softwood with wonky grain makes terrible handles. Unfortunately that's what populates the shelves as every box store out there. Although i don't do it as often as I should, keep it sharp. I try and avoid as much hand digging as I can though .

                            I've always been a traditional wood guy for anything. Tool handles, gun stocks, etc, but I have to say I've been really impressed with my fiskars composite handled axe I bought a few years ago. I thought they were all hype, buy am a convert now. I wonder if they make shovel like that, or if it would have too much flex?

                            My Dad is a yard sale hound, and spends his weekends out touring around. He's always on the lookout for me, and has found all kinds of gems for me over the years. I love it when he pulls in the driveway on a Saturday afternoon and heads straight to his tailgate to unload .

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                            • #29
                              The sad thing is a good handle will cost more than a cheap shovel. I have been tempted to buy a shovel throw the blade in the scrap and put the handle in a good one.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by true temper View Post
                                The sad thing is a good handle will cost more than a cheap shovel. .
                                Probably somewhere out there is some small time handle maker from whom one could get a nice handle at a reasonable price. I've always been partial to octagonal hammer handles, and several years ago I bought a few (hickory of course) from some handle maker in Tennessee. Don't remember how I stumbled on that source.

                                I have an old shovel, just the blade and curved handle shank - no handle, that my dad had acquired sometime after I left home. Someone, with considerable black smithing skills, at some point made three wraps around the shank with about 3/16 or 1/4" wire or rod, and then applied a twist, like a bread twist tie to tighten the shank around a handle. Whoever did it was very good. The turns are perfectly smooth and lay nice and tight against each other. The wire or rod was almost certainly red hot when wrapped, and then tightened as it cooled. I guess money and resources were scarce, because the blade has at least an inch worn from the tip. The original pointed end now is a flat of about two or three inches. Now completely rust covered, it was obviously a quality item back in its day.

                                (added)
                                Here would be one source for wood handles. Don't know about prices, but you might be surprised (pleasantly):
                                https://tennesseehickory.com/contact.shtml

                                Here's another (Think this was my hammer handle source; I remember the name Sequatchie): http://hickoryhandle.blogspot.com/20...ufacturer.html
                                Last edited by lynnl; 05-18-2020, 07:17 PM.
                                Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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