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Sharpening a Shovel or Spade

A Guide for Sharpening a Shovel or Spade

Digging a hole or splitting snarled roots can be tough work. Make an easier job of it with a sharp shovel. Many people have never even thought about sharpening a shovel, but we guarantee a sharp edge will cut through dirt and plant matter faster than a dull one. You’ll not only expend less energy, but you will also save time with a sharp shovel or spade.

How to Sharpen a Shovel:

1) Clean off any caked on dirt from the shovel with a wire brush.

2) Get a good grip on the shovel. The recommended way to do this is to use a clamp or a vise to keep the shovel securely in place with the cutting edge facing up.

3) You will need to use a file, coarse abrasive stone or handheld grinder.

4) Use the angle that is already on your shovel or spade as a guide. If the blade is too dull to find the original angle, a 45 degree angle is appropriate for most digging tools. Sharpen the inside edge of the tool. (A shovel is a single-beveled tool. Do not sharpen the opposite side of the edge.)

5) If using a file or abrasive stone, push sharpener forward in even passes using the full length. We feel it is safer to sharpen away from the edge in case you would happen to slip.

If using a handheld grinder such as the Work Sharp with Tool Grinding Attachment, make sure that the shovel is held securely. Run the grinder along the entire sharpened edge of the shovel. Do not leave the grinder in one spot too long as it will heat up the edge unnecessarily.

When sharpened at a proper angle, about 1/8" of the blade will be visibly shiny from sharpening.

6) The dullness of your shovel will dictate how many strokes you need to take with the sharpener before you see a shiny beveled edge appear. At the same time, you will probably be able to feel a slight burr on the backside of the shovel as well.

7) You will continue to sharpen until you feel a burr along the entire cutting edge of the shovel (on the backside). At that point, you will make a few light strokes along the backside that will remove the burr and then go back to the beveled side and make a few light strokes on the cutting edge for final sharpening.

More Tips for Keeping Your Shovel in Good Working Order:

Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition

1) Keep your shovel clean. Remove caked on dirt before storing.

2) Shovels should be stored so the edges are not resting on the ground. This will only dull your blade faster.

3) A bit of rust-preventative spray will extend the life of the shovel.


Shovel Sharpening Bladetiplong