What is the Difference Between Spade and Shovel?

Last Updated on June 23, 2020 by Daniel Cooper

What is the Difference Between Spade and Shovel? Many people get confused between spade and shovel or use both tools interchangeably. Although they look similar, there are plenty of differences in shape and functionalities. This article presents a summary of the key differences to help the readers identify both tools individually.

What is the Difference Between Spade and Shovel

Materials and Weight

Both tools can be constructed from the same metals. The majority of them consist of steel, iron, or plastic materials. As steel is a lightweight yet sturdy metal, the manufacturer uses it the most. When it comes to spades, they often feature heavy steel blades along with metal or wood handles.

On the contrary, shovels can be made from thinner steel, low-quality metals, or plastic too. While the iron ones weigh a lot, aluminum spades and folding shovels are lightweight. But the lightweight tools may fail to carry expected weight.


Spades utilize completely flat or almost flat blades with sharp and straight edges. They are smaller and less curved compared to that of shovels. Such a style is perfect for edging garden beds. However, the blade of a shovel has a concave shape. It is generally curved inwards from the left side to the right. Its edge can either be pointed or rectangular. Its large surface users to move more gardening materials than a spade. You can’t use these blades to break ground, as they are often created from lighter materials.


The shovels usually have long and straight shafts. The long handle offers higher leverage. It is suitable for massive projects as well as for cutting through tough roots. But shovels with shorter shafts provides more user control while digging up bulbs. In contrast, shorter handles go better with a spade.

These handles allow applying maximum force through their blade. However, you can also find some spades with long shafts. Both tools can feature wood or fiberglass shafts. The weight of the handle will also vary depending on the size, cost, and used material. Most often, the shovel handles are heavier than the spade handles.


The blade-style makes the most significant difference between the operation of these objects. The straight spade blade is efficient for moving dirt, soils, debris from one place to another. It can slice through soils and plant roots. Besides, you will need them for leveling the surface of garden beds.

The blade is also capable of loosening the soil. They often come with a metal footrest placed on both sides of the shafts. So, you can push it further into the ground. Many users use them for digging too. On the contrary, shovels can dig deeper into the earth. Due to the blade’s shape, they are perfect for scooping.

They have more in-depth scoop so the users can move soil from deep holes to outer areas.  If you want to move a pile of soil, you should go for a shovel. They also allow for loosening soil. But many shovels consist of plastic ingredients instead of metal. Such items may not be able to dig deeper and break through the earth. In short, spades are more versatile than shovels.


Neither garden spades nor garden shovels are necessarily costly than the other ones. The price will depend on the quality, size, material, design, and performance. High-quality tools will cost more than other cheap options.


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