When it comes to a shovel test unit the shovel is one of the three main tools a shovel bum needs to do the properties. The other two are a compass and a screen. But even with the other two, it's pretty difficult to dig a proper shovel test without a shovel.

The shovels used during a shovel test is what most people think of when they think of a shovel. They are also called a mixture of other names, including long handled shovel, long handled spade, and round spade. The edges of the blades are usually sharpened by the shovel bum for easier cutting through roots, soil, supervisors, etc. and also mark measurements off on the handle so they don't have to keep digging a tape measure out of their pockets.

These shovels come in a variety of shapes and sizes and picking out one can be a highly subjective decision. There are roughly two schools of thought regarding how a shovel should act.

The first school of thought prefers a shovel that can move a lot of dirt. This school (which I'm a member of) feels that a good shovel for a shovel test should be heavy duty. It should have a large blade, or spoon, which will allow it to move more dirt per scoop. It should have a stiff hardwood handle with the sleeve of the blade being long enough to prevent the handle from breaking off when the shovel bum tries to pry out a root. The problem with these shovels are that they're heavy and the handles will eventually break. A good example of this type of shovel would be from the Razorback line from the Union brand.

The other school of thought prefers to have a light shovel for easy maneuverability. These shovels tend to have smaller, and often thinner, blades. The handles tend to be made of either fiberglass or a light springy wood. These handles bend rather than break. The problem with these shovels are the handles can be considered too springy, although they don't break. The thinner blades will often crack, however. Also, fiberglass handles can be hard to grip during excessively wet weather conditions.

Some features are important to both schools of thought. One thing is that the angle of the blade is not too great in relation to the handle, nor too steep. A blade with a great angle makes for more difficult digging as the shovel test gets deeper. A too steep of a slope prevents the digger from actually scooping the matrix from the shovel test. Also important are the kick plates. A lot of shovels designed for home-use have the kick plates facing the back of the shovel. Kick plates of this fashion tend to catch on roots, snag the wall of the shovel test, and create nerd sherds, none of which are desirable.

A shovel bum's shovel can be an important extension of the shovel bum itself. This relation can be as great, for some shovel bums, as a katana is to a samurai. Some shovel bums have been known to even name their shovel.

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