Digging Hand Tools: From Archeology to Construction Essentials

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Use of hand tools in digging

hand digging tools come in handy whether you wantto loot those tempting artifacts or get rid of the body that could put you behind the bars! Just kidding!

hand tools for digging are diverse in type and versatile in application. You can use them in gardening and construction tasks or during excavation missions. From preparing the soil for seeding, making flower beds and encouraging crop growth by removing weeds from the soil to digging marked spots in an excavation site to uncover underground structures or ancient artifacts, you could always use a shovel, spade, digging fork or trowel.

Using digging hand tools for excavation on an archeological site

Different digging hand tools are best suited for different tasks and materials. In this article form Ronix tools you are invited to explore the world of some of most popular choices and learn everything about their applications and capabilities. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Related Article : Use Of Hand Tools

What Is Digging?

Digging is the act of loosening and then removing different materials from the ground in an attempt to:

  • Build Something New
  • Grow Crops or Flowers
  • Mining Up Resources Like Ores and Gold
  • Uncovering Hidden Treasures of The Past
A man wearing protective gloves using a garden rake

Depending on the scale of your excavation project or the materials you need to remove, hand digging tools can the efficient, cost-effective and versatile solutions. If you are not afraid of a little physical activity and have enough time at hand, these simple and useful manual assistants are worth checking out as they are durable and user/environment friendly and can guarantee a clean and precise operation. 

For those of you who prefer to do the digging under their own stream, without relying on complicated and advanced tools, here is a list of most popular hand digging tool names and applications:

Order wholesale hand tools Designed to Attract Customers

What Are Digging Hand Tools?

A series of hand digging tools randomly arranged around a flower in the garden

The rapid rise in the use of hand tools for digging, has led to the development of a diverse collection of such tools in recent years.

What makes these tools different from their electric counterparts, is that they are made formaking shallow holes in an area of limited magnitude.

There are different types of them available, some best suited for a construction site and others engineered for an efficient use in an agricultural field.

A series of different digging hand tools with a brick wall in the background

As they are different in material, design and durability, different members of the digging hand tools’ large family have different missions and purposes:

  • Construction site: heavy-duty blades, durable and long handles
  • Agricultural Field: lightweight, precise and efficient
  • Mine: High striking power, replaceable blades, ergonomic and non-slip grips
  • Archeological Site: Easy to control, Precise with narrow and fine ends

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most widely used types of these tools:  


A spade is a hand tool made up of a metal plate with sharp edges. The plate is attached to a long handle, usually made of wood or plastic. Due to its sharp edge, soil can be easily dug up and a hole can be simply made. If the metal plate has a low curvature, you cannot lift the soil with it, so while choosing a spade be careful about it.

A man using a spade to dig and move the soil

Spades are one of the most useful hand digging tools in many fields from farming and gardening to construction. 


Shovel is one of the most popular hand tools for digging soil and lifting it. It somehow resembles a spade with some minor differences:

An infographic about the differences of spade and shovel as common digging hand tools

 The edge of a shovel is not as sharp as a spade and the curvature of the metal plate of a spade is usually greater than that of a shovel so it is the best choice for digging and lifting dense and compacted soils. Meanwhile, a shovel has a flatter edge and therefor best suited lighter digging tasks and moving loose soils like sand.


A hoe is a digging tool that consists of a metal blade attached at an adjustable angle to a long handle. The blade has a sharp cutting edge which is used for loosening and moving soil.

A hoe

Hoes are suitable tools for small-scale digging and weeding tasks. The metal blade can optionally be replaced with a forked blade.


A trowel is a hand tool used for digging shallow soil furrows, removing surface plant roots, applying and smoothing materials, and moving small amounts of material. There are a variety of masonry, garden, and float trowels available on the market for different applications.

A trowel

A power trowel is a larger, gasoline or electrically powered walk-behind device with rotating blades. Power trowels are used to finish concrete floors by compacting and smoothing the surface.

If you are a construction worker or gardener, you can always use a high-quality, adjustable and ergonomic trowel. And if you are getting ready for an excavation mission, you should not forget to add a small and narrow-bladed trowel to your backpack!

Related Article : Proper Use of Hand Tools

Digging fork

The digging fork, with its horizontal wire tines and metal teeth, is used to loosen the top layers of soil.

A man using a digging fork to dig into the soil

As one of the widely used hand digging tools in farming, digging forks are the perfect choice for preparing the soil before planting or transplanting plants without much disturbance to their roots. 


The ax consists of a large nail and blade perpendicular to a handle. With a sharp metal blade on one side of the handle and a sword blade on the other, this tool can be Used for digging small grooves in the loose to dense soil, drywall, plaster, concrete, asphalt and much more.

A man holding a Ronix Axe

If you cannot make up your mind on which brand of axes to choose among all the different options available on the market, Ronix collection is worth checking out. RH-4700 and RH-4701 axes have a drop-forged polished steel head that makes them durable enough to take a beating and enjoy ultra-sharp edges that ensure maximum efficiency. Last but not least, they have shock absorbing fiberglass handles for ultimate comfort.    


A mattock resembles the axe in shape but is not suitable for heavy-duty digging. With a curved metal blade at one end of the handle and a narrow pick at the other, it is primarily a lifting tool.

A mattock on the asphalt

In addition to construction, gardening and agriculture, such digging hand tools can also be used in road maintenance as they are capable of breaking into asphalt and moving it.

Digging knife

A knife may not be the first tool that comes to mind for digging tasks, but knives can actually be practical and useful for gardening purposes. Having a good garden knife on hand can aid in various digging and planting tasks. A garden knife can cut into hard soil and create holes for planting seeds and bulbs.

A set of digging knives in the garden

Such digging hand tools typically have a flat, chisel-like blade that can remove rocks and roots from the soil surface, making digging and breaking up soil easier. The sturdy, rigid blade of a digging knife can help pry up compacted soil and penetrate hard ground more easily than some traditional garden tools.

Small Hand Tool for Digging

Small hand tool for digging is the best choice for those of you who prioritize precision and control or need to work in tight spaces in which a full-size tool would be of no use.

No that you are familiar with different hand digging tools and their features, let’s dig deeper into the matter:

Hand Tools for Digging Soil

From sand and clay, to loam, there are different types of soils in the nature that are different in texture and particle size. To make the best hand tools for digging soil, first and foremost, you need to take these differences into account.

Here’s a straight to the point guide for garden lovers club:  

  • For loose soil: lightweight digging forks with wide and flat tines, angled hoes with shallow blades, flat knives with long handles
  • For dense and compacted soil: Digging forks with hardened and thick blades, mattocks and pickaxe

Best Hand Tool for Digging a Trench

Trenches are long and narrow holes dug into the ground for various purposes from installing pipes and cables to dig foundations or divert water to prevent floods.

Digging such hole can be done by heavy machinery but also by hand. To excavate a trench manually is a cost-effective solution that minimizes the risk of damaging underground utilities and allows for an accurate digging operation with controlled depth.

A man using a hand tool for digging a trench

Depending on the texture of the soil, some of the best hand tool for digging a trench are:

  • Sharp trench shovel with long handle
  • Pickaxe with hardened steel head
  • Durable trenching spade

Tools For Hand Digging a Well

Either as a source of water for drinking and irrigation or a channel for the disposal of wastewater, wells are a great addition to your property.

DIY well digging is a demanding and dangerous task that can be backbreaking without the right tools. To complete this task, you need different tools from shovels and spades to axes, mattocks and chisels but you won’t achieve the desired result by going for any random tool.

A shovel inside a recently dug well

The best tools for hand digging a well are the ones with:

  • Durable body: to hold up well under the pressure of breaking hard soil mixed up with rock
  • Ergonomic design: for less hand fatigue during the demanding operation
  • Sharp edges: for more efficiency in breaking the hard material and underground obstacles
  • Long handles: to provide more leverage and power

Hand Tool for Digging Holes

As mentioned above, Choosing the best hand tool for digging holes depends on many factorsfrom the texture of the soil to the depth of the holes you plan to make.

If you want to make holes in a hard soil, you can always use a digging bar but take note that this hand tool is not a fan of precision and won’t put you in control of the size and the shape of the hole you make.

Digging a hole in the ground using a manual auger

Manual augers can act like drills to let you make large and deep holes in hard soil.

Using a post hole digger, you can make small holes up to 4 feet deep in loose soil to install signposts. 


What are the best tools for hand digging?

Best on the texture of the soil and the depth of holes you want to make, the best hand tools for digging include shovels, spades, axes, digging forks, hoes and trowels.

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15 November 2020

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