Everyone wants a shovel, for some reason, forgetting that for every task, there is a tool. Square-mouth shovels often get a bad rap as they are seen as not being useful. There are a lot of functions where square-mouth shovels are a necessity rather than an option.
Square shovels are the tool of choice for many tasks on the farm, in restaurants, at home, on construction sites, and even in metal detecting. However, square-mouth shovels are primarily used for scooping rather than digging.
The square-mouth shovel has a long, flat edge and usually has a horizontal grip at the end of the shaft/handle. It is primarily used for scooping and moving large amounts of material, which is paramount on a farm or garden.
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Square-Mouth Shovels on the Farm
A square-mouth shovel is an essential tool for farmers, especially digging trenches. It is beneficial for digging through roots and more challenging materials such as clay.
The handle is very indicative of what the shovel does, which is to move heavy materials. So the handle design gives you the kind of leverage that you need to push those materials and do so in the most efficient way possible.
Square-mouth shovels are useful in barn lofts and paddocks, especially those with a larger blade surface. The larger surface area on a square-mouth shovel is suitable for cleaning the barn and scooping fresh material into horse paddocks.
Square-Mouth Shovels in Restaurants
The good thing about square-mouth shovels is that you can purchase them in various lengths. Short-handled, square-mouth shovels are effective for clean-up in restaurants because they essentially serve the function of an industrial-sized dustpan picking up all the materials swept into a pile.
When it comes time for a heavy clean-up in the kitchen and back areas, square-mouth shovels are more effective at scooping and flinging powder detergents into hard-to-reach areas for sanitation and efficient clean-up.
Square-Mouth Shovels at Home
At home, these shovels truly shine, primarily because of their versatility and use for gardening and yardwork. Some tasks the do include:
- Scooping Compost
- Leveling Soil
- Scraping Gravel
- Cutting through roots
- Concrete projects
- Scooping Grain
A square-mouth shovel is a great way to distribute compost straight from the bag evenly or directly from the composter. Its flat edge is perfect for scooping and evenly distributing the material.
Square-mouth shovels are not only for digging, but they’re great for cutting roots, especially if you’re trying to clear the area of competing roots as you prep to plant something else in that location. A rounded or pointy edge shifts roots away rather than cutting straight through them as you would with a flat-edged shovel.
Leveling soil is another reason to own a square-mouth shovel. You can’t get a straight, smoothing action with a curved edge, but with a square mouth, this is possible. The same holds for compost and topsoil when you are filling your bed, and you can bring it flush with the framework of your raised bed.
Square-mouth shovels are also suitable for scooping up loose gravel, filling raised platforms for decorative purposes, or redistributing your gravel driveway. The square shape is a lot more effective than a rounded edge for this type of activity.
A flat-edged shovel is an essential tool if you’re laying concrete. Its use is not for smoothing the concrete once poured, but it is imperative to level off your fresh concrete before you come back to level and smooth it off with a concrete trowel.
Construction Work with Square-Mouth Shovels
The list of things that a flat edge is helpful for in the construction industry would be a mile long, whether home construction, businesses, shipyards, or preparatory land clearing. However, as the list is long, the common element with all construction work where you will mostly find a square-mouth shovel used would be cleaning up debris. In terms of construction clean-up, square-mouth shovels are just so diligent. It is easy to sweep almost anything into them.
You’ll never see workers without a square-mouth shovel during a concrete pour, no matter how large or small the project is. It is excellent for quickly leveling fresh concrete or in helping to push it into corners and spots to assist the pour in filling the entire mold.
It is also great for trenching and removing residual roots while clearing the land before construction. Square-mouth shovels are helpful in any construction environment, even if it only boils down to clean-up at the end of the day.
Metal Detecting with a Square-Mouth Shovel
A small, square-mouth shovel is imperative for any metal detecting expedition. Almost anywhere of consequence, outside of the beach, will require you to dig through small roots at the very least, and the square-mouth shovel is best for that.
It will be handy as you will be able to excavate a more significant square space of soil when your metal detector goes off, and it’s time to get digging. Also, once you have a huge chunk of dirt set aside, it’s easier to break it up and move around with a flat edge than a curved edge.
However, the square-mouth shovel is only a small tool in a much larger arsenal of digging tools when it comes to metal detecting.
It helps if you also have plenty of curved shovels, knives, rakes, and more, with most of them being single-handed in terms of their operation.
You will most likely utilize trowels and digging knives far more often than a flat-edged shovel, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t bring one along.
Check out our guide on Metal Detecting to see what tools are the best to have.
A square-mouth shovel comes with a nearly infinite number of uses in just about every industrious category of our lives. It’s an effective tool for so many things, and that’s the primary reason the simple, flat-edged shape has been around for centuries.