January 09, 2023
With our shovel supplier of the past 7 years abandoned us at the beginning of 2022 we've been working on our own-made Trail Boss shovel ever since. Its been a fun and fairly challenging project. We're finally pretty close to production on our round digging shovel head, with the various pieces designed, fab equipment in-house, and raw materials and outside supplies ordered and on their way. A flat shovel, primarily designed for slap-packing and dirt transfer is not far behind.
With metal shovels being around since the bronze age, starting maybe 3000 years ago (like the 1750 B.C. one in the headline picture), we decided it was time to make yet another variation on this most-iconic and most broken variety of digging tool. See https://shovelzone.ca/history-of-the-shovel/ for a pretty good read on the history of shovels.
We made and physically tested several of our own variation, including different blade thicknesses, heat-treat processes, blade/tang mounting methods, etc. We finally settled on this design:
The design criteria was to make it functional, strong, and durable, but also lighter weight with improved pack-ability over the previous design. The blade is roughly the same size as our previous shovel, just slightly smaller than most round shovels so that it fits nicely in smaller packs. The overall head-length is significantly less because of the mount design, and the weight is less because there is less steel mass, utilizing a stronger well-tempered alloy.
Since the design also significantly shortens the bending moment between the shovel tip and coupling we decided to not issue a braced version. In our testing the lower coupling with the steel segment appeared to hold up quite well under some serious stress. And yes, we do highly recommend using a steel handle segment when digging with the shovel.
We all took turns beating it up, with Alec doing the "full body-weight test" out in the wild after he found this convenient granite crack to hang himself from a few times: