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Two spades:
left: forged, relatively thin blade for digging, T-handle,
right: rolled, thick blade for heavy loads during civil engineering work, knob handle

The spade is a device primarily used for digging work, mainly as a garden tool, consisting of the flat spade blade and the spade handle connected to it. The spade is seen as a special form of the shovel .

Construction and use

The spade is mainly for the purpose of soil cultivation , i.e., for releasing, moving and turning (digging) standing in culture or to be taken floors (so called spade culture used).

There are two basic forms of the leaf: rectangular with straight or slightly curved piercing edge for homogeneous, stone poor soils, and triangular or semicircular, pointed at the front leaves for stony soils. The piercing edge is sharpened and the blade is hardened . The spade is used in particular when loosening compacted soil, the spade blade is pushed or kicked into the ground.

The spade handle of a modern spade is usually firmly clamped in the spade springs by rivets . In addition to the simple knob, the handle shape is the spade handle as a T or D handle. The stem can also be bought varied depending on the size of the person.

The step edge improves the power transmission from the shoe to the device, narrow and sharp edges easily cut the shoe soles and cause pain when working for long periods. In some designs, the leading edge of the sheet is flanged or, in a simplified manner, a cut tube is attached and hammered into place. In addition to the steel quality, the execution of the step edge is a quality feature, as its production requires an additional work step.

A human worker can dig around 30 m 2 per hour on light soils and only around 15 m 2 on heavy soils . Loose soil and bulk material can also be moved with the spade, but a shovel is expediently used because of the better work performance . If the spade is no longer sufficient to loosen the soil, for example because stones or roots make it extremely difficult or impossible to use, a pickaxe can be used in advance to loosen it. The heavier (clayey) the soil, the smaller the spade blade to be used should be.

The resilience and durability of a spade mainly depends on the design of the spade and less on the material. The size and shape of the spade blade should be adapted to the nature of the ground and the strength of the user. The shape and especially the size of the leaf is decisive. Working with a smaller leaf (e.g. lady's spade ) requires less force. Naturally, the work with the digging fork is the most energy-saving, but above all, underground parts of plants and larger soil organisms such as earthworms are most likely to be spared.

Special forms

  • The Rodespaten or Aushebespaten has because of the high loads during Roden or transplanting trees (pry out the root ball) a particularly stable spade blade, usually narrow and long (40 cm or more) and a strong, thick stalk. It is therefore mainly used in agriculture and in gardening and landscaping.
  • Peat spade or peat iron : A spade with a particularly long blade that was later bent at right angles was used for cutting peat , hence the long brick shape of heated peat , which was typical in the past . In the Oldenburger Land this breakdown is called.
    Served to Assist bunker godfather and Vorstechspaten .
  • Conifer spades have a particularly narrow blade for working in confined spaces.
  • Feldspade : Military spade model, which is usually carried around the soldier's belt in a leather or synthetic leather case and is much smaller than a normal spade.
  • A folding spade is a relatively small and light spade, the metal handle of which can be folded down or folded up so that it is easy to transport and saves space. It is mainly used in the military , camping and outdoor activities .
  • Half spade : ancient wooden spade with only one shoulder. Such a device made of maple (and a wooden hoe) was found in an Erkelenz fountain by the linear ceramicists . (Source: Bild der Wissenschaft 1995)
  • Fork spade , also called digging fork : The spade blade is perforated like a fork, but with mostly three or four approx. 2–3 cm wide prongs. The fork spade is used like the spade to turn the ground and is similar in function to the - angled - karst .
  • Hole spade , also known as digger, digger, digger or hand excavator; consists of two opposing half-shells, which enable the vertical digging of a hole, and is usually used for setting fence posts and, in a reduced form, for inserting flower bulbs.
    For setting fence posts also are auger used.
  • A lawn edger is a spade with a straight, not curved blade and is usually pointed at the front. It is used to create a straight line between the lawn and a bed, path or a mulched tree slice.
  • A bronze spade can be used where there should be no flying sparks (for example when cleaning the oil tank).


Roman pioneer spade, 3rd century AD

Historically, the spade replaced the digging stick for basic tillage in arable farming until it was replaced by the plow itself . In the case of trenches (digging three spades deep) it can not be replaced by deep plows (for example in viticulture ) even today. In horticulture , especially in the hobby area, the spade is still used for top-depth (a spade-deep) tillage.

The Dutchman digs two spades deep. The piece of land to be dug is marked out in strips. You put the humus layer from the first strip at the end of the piece, then dig the first strip and place the humus layer of the second strip on top, then dig the second strip, etc.

In civil engineering and earthworks too, foundations, construction pits and even sewers were dug with spades and shovels before the mechanization . Roman legionaries built with spades ditches and banks for the camp, as in 2000 years later modern military trenches and shelters. In the construction industry, the classic combination of spade, shovel and pick is still carried around for smaller jobs or fine and accompanying work when digging , for example when "working" around supply lines, power lines or postal cables.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Otto Lueger: Lexicon of the entire technology and its auxiliary sciences. 2nd edition, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart and Leipzig 1904, keyword: Schaufel
  2. a b c d Ulrich Sachweh (editor): The gardener, Volume 3, tree nursery, fruit growing, seed growing, vegetable growing . 2nd edition, Ulmer, Stuttgart 1986/1989, ISBN 3-8001-1148-9 , p. 43
  3. Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon , keyword: "Machinization" online

Web links

Commons : Spade  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Spaten  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations