* Prices may differ from that shown
I am lucky enough to have both the fork and spade in this Spear & Jackson border range. I really rate the S&J brand of garden tools, I find them all to be solidly made quality pieces of equipment, really built to last. On the shaft of the spade, it states "10 year guarantee" but I actually think they could afford to go much further than that with their promise based on how well made they are.
The finish on the actual blade area of the spade is polished stainless steel, and after two summers it still retains it's shine, although it's by no means been the most-used tool in my collection. For my usual gardening activities in the borders, the fork gets much more use, whereas the spade is only really called upon when I've been planting something new or digging one out. Nevertheless, a spade is a garden essential, and it's size makes this one the perfect spade for my particular needs.
~Design & Dimensions~
The design of this range is a main shaft is a greyish dark wood, with the handle integrated into the shaft, which itself is about 40mm diameter. The handle and shaft is varnished and smooth although not shiny. The grip on the spade is really comfortable and has clearly been carefully designed. The opening to the handle is wide and deep, and the shape of the handle opening is sort of elongated down into the length of the shaft. The blade/face of the spade is moulded into a short section of stainless steel (approx 250mm long) which is riveted securely to the wooden shaft. The overall look of the spade is really classy - and if a spade could ever be described as beautiful, this would be it!!
~Working with the spade~
Despite the solidity of the wooden shaft and handle, though, the fork feels light to lift and to work with. The spec of the spade states that it weighs 1.5kg. The overall height of the spade is approx 950mm, which is a convenient height for me to work with (I'm quite small), slightly shorter than your standard heavy duty forks and spades, and the blade of the spade is approx 140 x 230mm. This petite size of the blade means that you can be very accurate where you are digging - the 140mm width seems to be just right for getting around the roots of small shrubs without necessarily disturbing its neighbours.
The "shoulders" (I'm sure there's a technical term!) of the blade where you may put your foot to dig it into the ground are only approx 50mm each side, but it is still enough to be able to get a grip on it if you need to. If you have larger feet, you wouldn't be able to get a full sole on there, but I still think there would be enough room to dig without your foot slipping off. Despite it's apparently small dimensions everywhere, my (much taller) partner also likes working with the spade purely because it is so small, lightweight and easy to control although it's not so short that it makes it hard work for him.
~Price & Recommendation~
Online at the moment this spade is available from a number of sites for around the £20 mark, which I think represents brilliant value for such a high quality spade. I believe that a border spade is an essential tool to have to hand, and I definitely recommend this range from Spear & Jackson for value for money as well as a great look.