A shovel is a very common tool that is used quite widely for moving and lifting loose material such as gravel, soil, sand etc. 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 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