Matt is a professional painter who enjoys fishing and metal detecting on the weekend for old coins and rings.
The Lesche T-handle Metal Detecting Shovel
For anyone new to the hobby of metal detecting, choosing the right shovel is really important because digging hole after hole with a lousy digger isn't fun. I started out with a large digging shovel from my garage, but soon realized I needed to find something that would be easier to dig with and carry around all day.
I started looking at shovels designed for metal detecting and ended up buying two Lesche diggers, one of which this review is based on.
I use the Lesche t-handle shovel exclusively to recover all of my metal detecting finds. I also own their hand-held spade, but I much prefer the t-handle for faster target recovery and cutting neater plugs. The digging is also so much easier with this shovel. I first wrote this review in 2018, but even now, the shovel's held up great after multiple uses in various soil conditions.
My review is based on the Lesche heavy-duty t-handle shovel, not the Sampson, which doesn't have a serrated blade. The hobby of metal detecting will do a number on your back if you use the wrong digger. Some people really like using a metal detecting spade, and those tools do have their advantages in certain situations, but I already have back and knee problems, so the less time I spend crouching down, the better.
Here are a few things I really like about this digger.
1. It cuts dirt plugs with ease.
Recovering metal detecting finds with a bad shovel will drain your energy fast. This shovel is sharp. The serrated blade slices through dirt like a knife through butter. It will cut through small tree roots too. In comparison with my handheld trowel, the long handle makes it so much easier to cut dirt plugs and flip them open, all while standing up. The longer length of the blade makes it possible to cut deeper dirt plugs too. I cannot get the same depth as easily with the handheld one.
2. It does less damage to grass.
As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid metal detecting in grass in the middle of the summer when it's really hot. Regardless of the digging tool you're using, you'll destroy the grass if you dig into the root system when it's too hot and dry outside. This shovel does cut a neater hole with less evidence of the ground being disturbed after the dirt plug's been replaced.
The Lesche handheld spade leaves more of a mess behind from sawing the ground up and down. The root system is disturbed more and the turf suffers damage more easily as a result. When digging holes, I always leave one side of the dirt plug connected so the plug fits back into the hole the same exact way it came out.
3. It's lightweight.
The shovel isn't too long or too heavy. I carry it around all day over my shoulder, or by my side, without energy drain. The shovel I started out with was not one meant for metal detecting. It was a gigantic digging shovel that was tiring to carry around for more than a couple of hours.
Here are a couple of minor downsides of the Lesche T-handle.
1. The metal corrodes over time.
Like my handheld digging tool, also from Lesche, this one has developed rust over time. The shovel is constructed of "aircraft-quality steel" according to the specs, but the metal does rust when exposed to moisture. The metal isn't rusting to the point of it falling apart, but rust spots formed.
This is partly my fault too for leaving mud on the blade and not drying the metal sooner, but even after drying the metal, it corroded a little. My recommendation is to definitely keep the metal dry for storage and keep it indoors.
2. It's a little short for me.
At my height of 5'11, my one minor complaint is that I wish the digger was one to two inches longer. If you're taller than 6'5", though, this shovel might be a little uncomfortable to dig with. The length is 31".
When I first unboxed mine, I was a little disappointed because I thought the blade and overall size would be bigger, but now it doesn't bother me after using it so many times. The compact size makes the shovel less noticeable in public than if you were to use a normal digging shovel with a long, oversized handle.
Is the Lesche Heavy-Duty T-handle Shovel Worth It?
I wrote this review in 2018, and since then I've recovered hundreds of coins using this shovel without the handle bending or breaking. Although mine does have some corrosion in spots, the metal is still totally intact and holding up fine.
I usually go metal detecting for three to five hours at a time, cutting plugs in grass and in the woods with soil full of tree roots. Compared to my previous handheld metal detecting spade, which I never use anymore, the compact Lesche t-handle shovel makes recovering my finds a lot faster and easier on my back. The handheld spade destroys my wrist and back.
If you've already used a handheld spade and want to switch to something more comfortable, the long-handle diggers are a great alternative. The handheld diggers are good in a situation where you're metal detecting a permission and you don't want the property owner to get upset seeing a bigger shovel. But for the speed of digging, the long handle shovel takes a bigger bite out of the dirt so the object you're recovering is almost always in the dirt plug.
The t-handle shovel is definitely one of my favorite metal detecting tools for digging holes in different soil conditions. I was originally going to buy the Sampson digger, also by Lesche, but I chose this one for the serrated blade to cut through roots easier. This comes in handy when recovering finds near the base of trees.
© 2018 Matt G.
RTalloni on December 17, 2018:
Thanks very much for this review. Our grandson may see it in the coming year. :)