There are lots of tools that seem to have different names for the same thing. But do they? Or are there important differences between the different names we essentially use for the same thing? Do scissors and shears differ? Are a spade and a shovel the same thing?

Spade versus Shovel

Both are used for digging, but there are differences between a shovel and a spade, despite most of us using the names interchangeably. But they are not the same thing!

A shovel is concave in shape, has a rounded or pointed tip, and a large blade size. The handle is long and straight, and it is used for digging, breaking, and turning soil.

A spade is flat, rectangular in shape, with a straight edge. It has a smaller blade size, and the handle is shorter with a “T” or “D” handle. Its primary purpose is to move soil or loose material and to slice through soil. It is perfect for edging garden beds



Hammer versus Mallet

Hammers and mallets are both designed to impact an object with direct force. They differ in their intended uses.

A hammer has a head made of steel, with the majority of the mass of the hammer concentrated in the strike zone. Its main use is to drive in nails or similar with strong force, and to mar various materials. It also has a claw for removing nails. A hammer is used in construction, carpentry, masonry, welding, upholstering, framing, geology, and much more.

A mallet has a head made of rubber, copper, wood or plastic. The mass of the tool is evenly distributed throughout the head and handle. The purpose of a mallet is to impart a force that is mild or moderate in nature, and to forge or alter the shape of a material. Mallets have no claw. A mallet is used to press-fit wood and plasterboard and where hammers may produce sparking, like in forgery of metals.

(IMAGE: StudiodaxBlog)


Scissors versus Shears

Both scissors and shears are used for cutting; the best scissors available should be in every home. But what’s the difference?

Scissors have holes of the same size for fingers and are symmetrical in shape. They accommodate a thumb and a single finger. Their blades are usually shorter than six inches.

Shears are asymmetrical in shape. They have a smaller hole for the thumb and a larger hole to accommodate two or three fingers. They generally have longer blades than scissors, and these are not identical.

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