A shovel is a tool used to dig, lift, and move bulk items like dirt, coal, gravel, snow, sand, or ore. Shovels are ubiquitous equipment used widely in agriculture, construction, and gardening.
The majority of shovels are hand tools with a wide blade attached to a medium-length handle. Shovel blades are often composed of sheet steel or hard polymers, and they are quite robust. Shovel handles are often composed of wood (particularly certain species such as ash or maple) or glass-reinforced plastic (fibreglass).
Sheet steel hand shovel blades often feature a folded seam or hem at the rear to form a socket for the handle. This fold is also used to add stiffness to the blade. Typically, the handles are riveted in place. Where the shovel is meant to move earth and heavy objects, a T-piece is usually attached to the end of the handle to improve grip and control.
All of these designs are easily mass-produced. The term shovel also refers to bigger excavation equipment known as power shovels, which are built for the same function of digging, lifting, and transporting material. Power shovels are descended from steam shovels. Loaders and excavators (such as backhoes) do very similar tasks in theory, however they are not categorized as shovels in practice.
Hand shovels have been adapted to a wide range of jobs and locations. They can be built as cross-over or compromise multitaskers, or they can be optimized for a specific purpose.
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