A shovels blade and handle are composed of multiple materials. How a shovel is prepared for storage and how it is stored affects the strength and the life of the shovel. Most people hang their shovels vertically but lets take at how to prepare your shovel for storage.
The materials used for the shovel may be metal, plastic, or a combination of the two, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Wood, plastic, metal, or fibreglass are the materials of choice for the shovel handle component. Each of these materials is susceptible to different weather and atmospheric conditions, so storing your shovel to protect it from the elements is a good idea.
Below are our top tips to clean and prepare your shovel prior to putting it away.
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Prepare by cleaning your shovels
One of the most crucial storage tips is always to clean your shovels after use.
If they are filthy, you may need to wash with water or use a safe cleaning solution, then wipe them down with a towel to remove any debris stuck to them.
Always wipe them dry and leave out in the sun for them to completely dry off before you put them back into storage.
Plastic vs. Metal vs. Wood vs. Fiberglass
There are specific precautions to take while storing shovels that are made from different materials as chemicals and atmospheric conditions affects each of them differently.
Metal has the most strength and can chip through harder substances while withstanding blows against rock or gravel. So, if either your blade, handle, or both are metal, then rust will be your number one storage concern.
After cleaning off and drying the metal surface, spray a lubricant or metal protector on it before hanging back in storage as this will fight rusting and corrosion.
If your metal shovel is a snow shovel, the lubricant will protect and help the snow not cling to the metal, making it easier for you to clear the snow.
Metal handles, in particular, are made of lightweight metals, and these can bend under high pressure. Ensure that other tools or stored items do not lay on or squash your metal shovel.
Plastic shovels are most commonly utilized when digging in the sand or for snow removal. They are lightweight and flexible. Being plastic they are not susceptible to rust unless an additional component is added to the shovel such as a scraping edge on a snow shovel.
Though rust is not an issue, exposure to sunlight and humidity can make the plastic brittle and lead to cracks in the plastic. As such, storing a plastic shovel away from sunlight would help the shovels longevity.
As for that metal strip for scraping that may be incorporated into a shovel…well it will need a little help.
Wipe it down when wet and spraying with a lubricant will help to avoid any rust.
Unless you are a carver, it is highly unlikely that a shovel blade will ever be wooden, but the handle often is.
Wood doesn’t rust, but water, salt and sun affect wood, causing rot if exposed to too much moisture, or the wood can dry out and crack during storage.
So again, always dry the shovel before putting it away.
Rubbing an oil onto the handle once or twice a year will help to repel water and keep dirt from entering into the wood pores and the handle will be looking new and shiny.
Many utilize Linseed or Danish oil for protecting the handle.
Application of the oil is simple. Pour the oil onto a cotton or micro fiber cloth then apply the oil to the handle wiping off any excess. Then place the shovel and handle in a clean location and allow the wood to dry.
Some parts of the handle will soak in the oil more than other parts, so this process may need to be completed multiple times to get an even coat. ensuring the handle is well protected.
Wood expands and contracts with temperature changes, so keep your shovel in a sheltered, weather-proof place, ideally where it is not too hot or too cold.
Lastly, check any screws to make sure they haven’t become loose.
Handles made from fiberglass are considered the best as they are not susceptible to weather change, rusting, or warping.
This is why shovels with fiberglass handles are more expensive!
Lastly, ensure that whatever storage rack or system you choose that it too is rust and rot proof! Need a storage rack? Read our buyers guide to help with your purchasing decision.