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A local shop offers a shovel made of spring steel (specifically - steel used for leaf springs) which is like twice as expensive as a regular one. The implication is that using special steel makes a more durable and reliable shovel.

Is such shovel really more durable and reliable?

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It could be a marketing gimmick. A steel designed for leaf springs is going be more elastic - i.e. appear 'springy' and more likely to bend rather than experience brittle fracture. I can't see this being of any use in true shovelling. For digging, it might be beneficial in a heavy soil but I doubt it is worth twice as much! I think I would bother more about getting a comfortable handle of the correct length, and general resilience/good construction of the spade/shovel. –  winwaed Oct 10 '12 at 13:28

2 Answers 2

A question like this comes down to many personal factors such as how often you use them, how much tool-pride you have, would you prefer rusted tools or tools with dings and dents in the blade. To help you make an informed choice for you I've compiled some info from wikipedia:

Spring Steel is a type of carbon steel that will return to its original shape despite significant bending or twisting. The benefit of Spring Steel tools is that even with heavy use, they will return to their original shape.

However, two points to consider:

  • Are you currently using your tools so much that they are being permanently damaged?

If you buy good quality (stainless steel) tools you should find they aren't easily damaged. If they are maybe the real problem is the way you're treating your tools.

  • Spring steel is a Carbon Steel which means there is no requirement for Chromium

(Chromium is the element that is added to iron to make Stainless Steel)

Spring Steel may be prone to rust. I think this will be more detrimental to your tools than some dings in the blade.

The best possible tool would be Spring Steel with Chromium. If such a product exists, it would be a good investment.

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I'd recommend stainless steel for garden tools such as spade and fork - they stay sharper longer and don't rust, thus allowing them to be more efficient when used for digging, as its harder for the soil to stick to stainless steel. Not sure I can think of an advantage for a stainless steel shovel, which will get scratched and battered being used for all kinds of things, from shovelling grit to wet concrete. As for 'spring' steel, unless that's a name used for 'stainless' steel where you live, not sure what advantage it might have.

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I'm not sure what difference you're trying to draw between a spade and a shovel... they're both mostly the same tool or different forms of the same tool (more often called a spade in the UK and shovel in the US). At best, a spade could be called a type of shovel (since you have shovels for dirt, snow, coal, etc.) –  Lorem Ipsum Oct 9 '12 at 20:08
    
@yoda I would distinguish between the two although they are variations of very similar tools. The spade is flatter and usually smaller - it would be inefficient at shovelling. The shovel is usually curved up a little at the sides and tends to be a bit bigger - ideal for shovelling, but very difficult to dig with. –  winwaed Oct 10 '12 at 13:24
    
Well, I've only just seen these two comments - Winwaed's answer is precisely what I would have said. Yoda, go outside and try digging the ground with a proper shovel, as described by Winwaed - its next to impossible. They may be similar types of tools, but they are not interchangeable. –  Bamboo Nov 8 '12 at 17:56

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