DIGGING TOOLS

Digging tools are designed for the breaking and digging of soil. Common types of digging tools are the long-handled and D-handled shovel, spade, posthole digger and auger, and a mattock. In this unit, you will learn about different types of digging tools and their uses. You will also learn how to select the right digging tool for the job, use various types of digging tools, and provide the proper care of the digging tools to keep them in good working condition.

When you have completed this chapter, you will be able to do the following:

Contents


DIGGING TOOLS

Types and Uses


Long-Handled Shovel

The long-handled shovel consists of a curve-shaped steel blade attached to a long wooden handle. The lower metal edge of the blade is tapered to help it cut into the ground. The long-handled shovel is used for heavy digging, especially when it is necessary to throw or move dirt a substantial distance.


D-Handled Shovel

The D-handled shovel resembles the long-handled shovel except that it has a shorter handle with a D-shaped handgrip at the end. The D-handled shovel is used for light work or for digging in cramped, tight places.


Spade

The spade, like the shovel, has a steel blade attached to a wooden handle The edge of the blade may be round, pointed, or square in shape and the handle may have the D or T-shaped handgrip. The spade is used for heavy digging or digging in confined areas.

 


Posthole Auger

The posthole auger is a long tool made up of a steel shaft that has two shovel-like blades at one end. The blades have curved faces which are hinged to permit slight movement with the concave surfaces of these blades facing each other. The posthole auger is used to bore holes in the ground for posts, poles, and explosive charges.


Posthole Digger

The posthole digger has two concave blades similar to the posthole auger except that each blade is fastened to a long wooden handle. The blades are hinged at the top so that separating the handles will close them and moving the handles together will open them. Like the auger, the posthole digger is used to bore holes in the ground for posts and explosive charges, and perform similar jobs.


Mattock

The mattock is designed for digging and cutting operations. The mattock can have a single- or double-beveled head. However, the single-beveled mattock can be combined with other digging tools to perform a variety of functions. For example, the “pick-mattock” is a combination of the single-beveled mattock and pick.

Mattock.

Double-beveled mattock.


Using the Long-Handled Shovel

Warning

Wear proper eye protection when working where flying particles may cause eye injury.

The following steps describe how to use a long-handled shovel properly:

  1. Hold one hand at the end of the handle and place the other hand a few inches below it.
  2. Press the blade into the ground (Figure 1). Use the foot on top of the blade for extra force if necessary.

Figure 1 — Using a long-handled shovel.

  1. With the shovel embedded in the soil, push the handle downward and pull back slightly to break the dirt loose.
  2. While holding the handle down with one hand, slide the other hand near enough to the shovel blade to raise the weight of the blade and dirt.

Using the Spade

Warning

Wear proper eye protection when working where flying particles may cause eye injury.

The following steps describe how to use a spade properly:

  1. Hold the handle in the upright position with both hands and push the blade into the ground with one foot, illustrated in Figure 2.

Figure 2 — Using a spade.

  1. With the blade in the ground, push the handle downward and pull back to break the dirt loose.
  2. Slide one hand near enough to the blade to raise the weight of the blade and the dirt.

Using the Posthole Digger

The following steps describe how to use a posthole digger properly:

  1. Define the edges of the hole by driving the posthole digger several times into the spot where the hole is to be dug.
  2. Hold the handles slightly separated near the top and bring the blades down sharply into the soil by the force of the arms.
  3. Pull the handles apart to grasp the soil and lift the digger out of the hole (Figure 3).

Figure3 — Using a posthole digger.

  1. Continue the process until the hole is the required size and depth.

Using the Mattock

Warning

Wear proper eye protection when working where flying particles may cause eye injury.

The following steps describe how to use a mattock properly:

  1. Distribute body weight equally on both feet. The knees should be set but not tense. The feet should be spread apart at a comfortable distance. The body should be relaxed and free to swing and bend from the hips as seen in Figure 4.

Figure 4 — Using a mattock

  1. When practicing using the mattock, swing with either the right or the left hand leading. When your position becomes tiring, reverse your hands on the handle of the mattock.
  2. With the right hand leading, the left foot should be brought slightly toward the work. To start the swing, hold the handle at the end with the left hand and near the center with the right hand. Raise the mattock over the right shoulder. Swing the mattock down toward the work, allowing the right hand to slide back along the handle toward the left hand so that at the finish of the swing, the hands are close together.
  3. With the left hand in the center of the handle, the mattock is swung in the same manner, except that the positions are reversed.
  4. Light swings are accomplished with wrist motion only, allowing the head of the mattock to do the work.
  5. Use the wrists, forearms, and shoulders for heavy swings.
Caution

Slight prying may be done with the mattock. However, prying must be done cautiously to prevent breaking the wood handle.

Care of Digging Tools

Use the following guidelines when working with digging tools:

  1. Digging tools should be cleaned often and after each use and the metal parts oiled before storing.
  2. Never use a tool other than for the job it was intended.
  3. Store all digging tools in their proper places when not in use.
  4. Replace defective handles immediately.
  5. Treat wooden handles occasionally with linseed oil to prevent drying out, splintering, and moisture penetration.
Warning

Linseed oil is a flammable liquid. To avoid personal injury, properly dispose of all cleaning rags in non-combustible containers. Cloths used to apply or remove linseed oil are fire hazards because they may ignite by spontaneous combustion. These cloths should be either destroyed after use or hung up to dry in a well-ventilated place and stored in metal containers.

  1. Do not use a dull or defective tool.
  2. Before swinging a tool, always be sure no one is close enough to be injured.
  3. Clean the mattock thoroughly after use and before short- or long-term storage.
  4. Store the mattock so the head will not be struck against metal or other hard surfaces.
  5. For long-term storage, coat the mattock head with a rust preventive compound and store in a dry place in a rack or box with the cutting edges protected.

 

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Review Questions

1. The long-handled shovel is used for what type of digging?

A. Heavy
B. Light
C. Moderate
D. Trivial

2. What type of shovel resembles the long-handled shovel?

A. D-handled
B. Mattock
C. Posthole auger
D. Spade

3. What tool consists of a steel shaft that has two shovel-like blades at one end?

A. D-handled shovel
B. Mattock
C. Posthole auger
D. Spade

4. What tool is used to bore holes in the ground for posts, poles, and explosive charges?

A. D-handled shovel
B. Mattock
C. Posthole auger
D. Spade

5. Which of the following types of heads can the mattock have?

A. Pick and spade
B. Pick and triple-bevel
C. Single- or double-bevel
D. Spade and double-bevel

6. When using a mattock, which body parts should be used for heavy swings?

A. Legs, forearms, and shoulders
B. Legs, waist, and wrists
C. Waist, thighs, and biceps
D. Wrists, forearms, and shoulders

7. When not in use, digging tools should be in which of the following locations?

A. Below the workbench
B. On the workbench
C. Proper storage location
D. Shop floor

8. Treat wooden handles with linseed oil to prevent drying out and which other condition?

A. Moisture repellant
B. Polished surface
C. Soft and pliable surface
D. Splintering

19. Before swinging a tool, always ensure no one is close enough for what condition?

A. To be injured
B. To cast a shadow on the digging spot
C. To supervise the digging

 

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Answers to Exercises

1. A
2. A
3. C
4. C
5. C
6. D
7. C
8. D
9. A

 

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Copyright © David L. Heiserman
All Rights Reserved