Snow shovels

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wrote:

towards the end of the winter or after a particularly heavy dump, the ones WITH the edge are the only ones available,
Steel (pusher type snow) shovels are almost non-existant, and the steel-edged aluminum ones are dissapearing from our local market quite markedly over the last few years since the plastic ones have gotten so much better than they used to be. My aluminum ones seldom lasted 2 full seasons, and aluminum or steel, they always got the edge bent and torn.
The plastics just keep right on going. They get a little lower after a couple of years, and the angle where it contacts the sidewalk gets a bit less optimal. Then I throw them away and get another one. (3 or 4 years)
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On Wed, 29 Dec 2010 23:46:25 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

That's what I use. I avoid metal edges. They stop dead when they hit a sidewalk crack. They edges don't last anyway. Straight handle, flat blade with just a little side edge. I push snow to the sidewalk edges, then toss it while facing where I want it to go straight on, with sort of a flip. Consider that a separate operation. Mostly arm movement, never stressed my back. The big trick is to think about it a bit and don't hurry. Have fun with it. I don't like the scoop type. Gets too heavy and the snow compacts in the scoop. If it's wet snow it sticks, making it harder to flip out.
--Vic
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After a couple of attempts to get used to a snow shovel with an offset handle I gave up. They are slightly easier on the back (if you don't know that you can actually bend your knees), but that benefit is more than offset by awkwardness in use. As someone else noted, you don't see regular shovels with offset handles as they are not a benefit.
I have three shovels which I use. A curved steel pusher, a fair-sized plastic "scoop" shovel, and a shallower plastic shovel. The snow slides off the shallower plastic shovel more easily and doesn't build up, where the scoop shovel holds a bunch more but the snow sticks a bit. I've tried the Pam spray thing, and that's not worth the effort. I just bang the scoop shovel on the ground every once in a while and that works okay. The shallower shovel lets me work with stickier snow and because it doesn't hold as much I can swing the shovel faster.

Whether you can see it or not, it works for me too. The plastic edge gets sharpened every time it slides along the concrete or pavers. Some people also use the metal edges on the plastic shovels to chop ice, which is not what the metal strip is there for, and that quickly beats up the strip and shovel. Another drawback of the metal strip is also a "user error" problem. People bang the metal edge into the metal uprights on railings, chip the paint, and the bottom of the wrought iron starts rusting. And finally, I have some nice, light colored, stone steps at the front stoop and along the drop in elevation of the front walkway that I don't want getting beat up. I also have snow-melting cable under the stoop and front walk, so that only requires an occasional touch-up, and the plastic-only shovel is fine for that.
R
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?

I like the offset shovel and that is my #1 choice if I'm going to shovel. Regular shovels are for heavier loads of dirt and digging, holes thus the straight handle. I don't see them a direct comparison in use.
Getting back to the OP's question, you usually need more than one shovel, just as you need more than one hammer, screwdriver, or kitchen knife. Deep light snow needs a different tool tan a few inches of heavy wet stuff or a light coating.
My favorite tool though, is the snow blower. Mine is a cheap single stage, but it is easier on the back than any shovel. Only ting better is when my neighbor comes over and he blows the heavy stuff the plow leaves.
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They save your back by allowing you to lift with your back straight(er) so you naturally use your legs. It does work.

I had two, one of the crooked shovels as above and a curved reinforced steel scoop, for pushing (don't want to lift that monster). ...and of course, a 10HP snow blower. ;-)

What's the point of a "wear strip" if its not replaceable?
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I think it depends on the person using it, like anything else. I hate the curved/offset handle, and prefer a straight one. Ever notice that you never see curved/offset handles on regular shovels?
I prefer a smaller, plastic-bladed shovel, lifting smaller loads many times rather than larger loads fewer times. The lighter the shovel, the more snow can be moved with the same ultimate effort.

I'm seeing a lot of shovels up here being sold without the metal strip. After one of mine fell off, I discovered that the shovel actually worked BETTER than it did with the metal strip. It does wear down (in the manner of beavers' front teeth), but in the process it self-sharpens, aiding in scraping packed snow. I now only buy the ones with no metal strip.
--
Tegger

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You may not believe it, but it works for anyone taller than the shovel. You don't have to reach down as far to grab the handle. It really is a back-saver.

Completely different tool with different action. You use your feet on a spade to sink them into the ground. Snow shovels aren't used this way.

Nonsense. If you believe that, why don't you use a teaspoon?

I can see a steel strip on an aluminum shovel, but steel on steel makes no sense. I wouldn't waste time on a plastic shovel. Well, maybe at the beach.
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One size does not fit all.
I'm 6'2", and often need to bend over with the straight-shaft shovels. But I still dislike the cranked ones: they just don't /feel/ right.

Um, spades are not the kind of "shovel" I was referring to.
Otherwise...wait for it... I would have called a spade a spade! (I'm LOL'ing to myself right now!)

That's a silly question. Do you eat your soup with a snow shovel? Or with an eyedropper? There's a "right" size, and a "not-right" size.

You may not believe it, but it works.
--
Tegger

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Then WTF were you talking about?

You just said that a smaller shovel was more efficient. Well, isn't a teaspoon small enough?
The most efficient is the tool that allows you to move the least and not overload (injure) the muscles. Wasted movement is not efficient.

I've used them. They suck in all types of snow. It really does take different shovels for different snow situations, but plastic isn't the answer for *any* of them.
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On Dec 29, 12:32am, " snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz"

If you're digging sand, you don't need your foot to sink the shovel into the pile, and that's similar to shoveling snow, so just eliminate the foot thing straight away as it has no bearing. The reason I don't like the bent-handled, what-trick-can-we-come-up-with-to-sell-more- shovels is twofold. The first is that with a bent handle there is a greater moment arm which makes tossing the snow anywhere but straight ahead of the shovel more problematic. I toss the snow, as another poster mentioned they did, and the bent handle requires you to have a much tighter grip on the shovel to prevent it from rotating when you're tossing the snow. This is due to the offset and is simple physics. The other reason is that the shorter straight handle section of a bent handle doesn't allow as many hand positions, and doesn't allow your hand to slide along the shaft, which is critical when tossing snow.

Correct - a range of "right" sizes, though. People vary.

That is interesting - those two sentences can be parsed different ways to mean totally different things.
"Allows you to move the least" - move the least snow per shovel-full, or move your body the least? It doesn't really matter as your core concept belief is stuck in the snow. ;) Snow shoveling is a sport - at least the way I do it - and it is similar to other sports where there is a decided difference in approach to ultimate strength versus endurance. Any exercise where there is low weight/load and high reps, at an appropriate rate, will see an overall improvement in endurance (stamina) and a more efficient result. A high cadence in cycling is a perfect analogy. It improves long term efficiency and minimizes injuries.
The second sentence is even more vague. You have no idea if a "wasted movement" is efficient on an overall basis. You're starting out with the presupposition that the movement is wasted. Measure calories and we can talk overall efficiency.
The only benefit to having a larger shovel is that hopefully you'll finish shoveling before your back gives out.
R
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wrote:

Shovels are made for more than sand, so it certainly does have a bearing. Snow shovels are made for one purpose (even though there are different sorts of snow shovels).

Complete nonsense. They work. I wouldn't have one if I could only have one shovel, but they work for what they're intended for.

Swing the arms in an arc. Don't change directions. Even a straight shovel will twist with a good load of snow. Mostly I did shovel more or less in a straight line, though. Twisting the back when throwing snow isn't a good practice.

Nonsense.
You're shoveling technique is screwed if you're sliding your hand.

Smaller is *NOT* more efficient. You may hurt yourself if you take too much of a bite, but that's a different discussion.

"you to move the least"; "move" modifies "you".

You like pain. No wonder you like crappy tools.

Waste == inefficient. <sheesh>

You'll use less energy with a larger shovel and work faster. Your back can give out in any case. Assuming no injury, you'll last longer with a more efficient technique.
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On Dec 29, 1:17pm, " snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz"

re: "You'll use less energy with a larger shovel and work faster. "
Maybe not..see my response to RicodJour.
It's all relative and a larger shovel could actually be a detriment.
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On Wed, 29 Dec 2010 12:17:25 -0600, " snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz"

Actually, with the weight of the snow and shovel below the pivot point where your hand is half way down the handle, it is MORE stable than a straight handle. Pretty hard for the snow load to tip the shovel when I lift it - unlike a straight shovel.
What I will NEVER own again is either a steel or aluminum snow "pusher" shovel.

explained above.

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On Wed, 29 Dec 2010 23:38:52 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

People try to pivot the blade to toss snow to the side. That's bad form and can get you hurt. It's much harder with the crooked shovel, but shouldn't be done at all.

I have a steel one I liked a lot. It's heavy as hell, but it's not designed to lift snow. It works great as a pusher. Of course now I only use it to sweep up sawdust (and a few weeks ago, pine bark mulch). ;-)
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re: "The only benefit to having a larger shovel is that hopefully you'll finish shoveling before your back gives out. "
Hmm...I'm was on your side up until you added that line.
If there is a numerical relationship between weight and back problems then a bigger shovel offers no advantage or it might even be a detriment.
Just throwing numbers out and obviously using extremes, consider this...
Perhaps I can toss 100 five-pound shovelfuls or 50 ten-pound shovelfuls before my back goes out . I tossed the same 500 pounds either way so I gain no benefit from the bigger shovel.
Now, going to the extremes, let's say I tossed 1,000,000 spoonfuls vs. 1 huge shovelful that cleared the entire driveway. Odds are my brain will go out before my back would when using the spoon, but my back would be shot as soon as I tried to lift the huge shovelful.
My point is that a bigger shovel may not be any advantage since I don't think back issues are "timed" as much as they are related to the strain put on the muscles. I'd have to lean towards bigger shovels having more risk than smaller ones.
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wrote:

Now add in the weight of your back, arms, and the shovel.
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On Dec 29, 2:52pm, " snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz"

m> wrote:

id>
OK, let's see, the average head weighs about 8% of the total body weight, the legs are about 40% and each butt cheek is at least 4 - 5 lbs (depending, of course...)
Now all I need to do is figure out where my front stops and my back begins and I'll have that figure for you.
Please stand by.
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wrote:

The point being that you're only counting part of the energy used.
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Ummm, DD...? I was making a funny, or at least trying to. I wasn't recommending a large shovel. I would generally counsel just the opposite for a number of reasons.
R
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Bingo. You hit it right on the head, on all counts.
A straight shaft works the best for me, even if I end up needing to bend over a bit more.
For me, with a single-wide driveway that's only 50-feet long, this is the best scenario for a snow shovel: - a 20" plastic blade with raised edges on the sides; - no metal edge on the blade; - a pronounced curve on the blade (for a certain technique used with dry, light snow); - a straight shaft.
--
Tegger

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