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Sharpening: How to Sharpen a Shovel

Updated: Jun. 30, 2017

Slice through tree roots and tough soil more easily

FH11JAU_SHASHO_01-2Family Handyman
Sharpen your shovel or spade and make digging easier. You can do it in 10 minutes.

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Sharpen a shovel

Photo 1: Grind the edge smooth

Use a metal grinding disc in an angle grinder to remove nicks and create a smooth profile. Keep the grinder moving to avoid overheating the metal edge.

Photo 2: File a bevel

Hold the file at a 70-degree angle to the back of the shovel. Apply pressure while pushing the file. Lift the file to return for the next stroke. Files cut on the forward stroke only.

Your shovel will slice through dirt and roots easier if it has a sharp edge. If the point of your shovel is ragged with dents or chips, start by smoothing it with a grinder (Photo 1). Then switch to a mill bastard file (Photo 2) to file a bevel. You don’t want a knifelike edge. Instead just bevel the top edge at a 70-degree angle to the back. That’s pretty blunt compared with the 25- or 30-degree angle used for knife sharpening.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Angle grinder
  • Mill bastard file
You’ll also need leather gloves.