About Standwell Tools
I run Standwell Tools as a hobby to help gardeners avoid back problems. I did not hurt my back gardening but once challenged I could no longer use a short English spade which really is a very poor tool in an ergonomic sense. I have a dodgy back including a herniated disc but I find as long as I use these tools and take care I can carry out most tasks and I do have a fair sized garden to deal with. It is possible to carry on gardening but it is important to approach the work in the right way and a major factor is to use carefully designed extra long handled tools.
The tools are sourced in the UK and I subsidise the cost. This type of design ought to be the common standard in these safety conscious times both for domestic & trade use. However, as I have found there is great resistance in the UK market to the use of anything except a short spade. The short spade or English spade as it is termed in the US, is not a designed tool and is entirely flawed if any consideration is given to potential back injuries.
The prototypes of my Long Pattern Spade were designed over 15 years ago when a back injury left me digging my allotments (3 no. !) on my knees. Unable to use a conventional spade, I found I could dig better than before with a long handled spade if I remained upright and kept my back straight. The exercise was beneficial, the only aches were from building up my shoulders and arms.
I acquired some antique pitchfork handles and attached them to several blade designs cut from other tools and fashioned by a local blacksmith. Eventually this process led me to the final prototype for the Standwell Long Pattern Spade. Designs were carefully drawn and copyright acquired, the aim was to have a perfectly functional tool that had the look of a traditional spade and manufactured with care & skill to create a recognisable tool that would be tough enough for professional use and last for years in domestic garden use.
To dig standing upright requires a spade with a very long handle. I am of average height and found the long handled spades on sale with handles 48" or 54" long were insufficient. In addition, the large standard blade about a foot long or the very large and cumbersome shovel heads of the Irish or West Country shovels tempt the user to lift a large quantity of soil. The combination of too short a handle with a considerable weight of the soil causes unnecessary strain on the back. They are also awkward to use because they are cumbersome due to the large head, and the socket has the wrong profile which causes poor balance and the tool rolls over in the hand.
In contrast, the Long Pattern spade & fork are relatively light, have a very long handle, a short blade and a carefully designed profile & balance point to avoid rolling. All the tools have been made to my copyrighted design by Richard Carter Ltd in Yorkshire who have been making tools for the trade for 275 years. The heads are forged rather than welded (the common standard now in all tools under £20) and will never break in normal use, I would certainly expect you to be able to pass them on to the next generation.
I should say that R. Carter are one of only two firms that make garden tools in the UK and but for their enthusiasm and accommodating approach this project would not have gone ahead, I can only thank them for their continued help & support.
I now use all long handled tools to dig, weed and shovel. My hope is that you find them as beneficial as I have.
With best wishes for your gardening future,
Standwell Tools, Derbyshire