Wheel + Shovel = Wovel

It's snowing in Minnesota, today. A lot. About an hour ago, I took the trash out, and came back to the house with a snow line around my knees. And it's still coming down.

That's all fine, though. What I'm really dreading is tomorrow, when I have to shovel it all up. Increasingly, I find my fancy turned toward the wovel—a ridiculous-looking piece of hand-powered machinery, that's supposed to help you clear a sidewalk easily, without the lower back pain*. I'm intrigued, and may have to end up buying and reviewing one of these things later this winter. In the meantime, do any of you own one? Is it as fabulous as they say? It came out in 2005 and has since inspired a ton of YouTube fan videos. I chose this one because the guy is woveling in shorts, for some reason.

*I've already decided that a gas-powered snow blower isn't an option. A) I just don't feel like owning yet another fossil-fuel burning contraption. B) I live on a hill in the middle of a block and am equally uninterested in hauling a snow blower up and down the slope.


  1. The reason this man in the Patriots jacket is shoveling in shorts is because he is a New Englander, and his blood is thicker than grade A dark amber maple syrup.

    1. He’s dressed in shorts because the day after it snows in New England, it’s always 40 degrees. He’s just dressed for the weather.

  2. I’d be very interested in trying one out, but I’d have reservations about buying it.

    The snow in the video is very light ‘n’ fluffy. While I’m sure it could lift wetter, heavier snow, I don’t know how easy it would be to empty the wovel with wet, sticky snow. You can turn a shovel upside down and whack it if you need to; this would require some effort if the snow stuck.

    I would agree that snowblowing on a hill can be very frustrating. Going downhill, it’s a war between pulling back to keep the machine from taking off and pushing up on the handle to keep the blades down and munching snow. Going uphill, there’s a lot of pushing when the wheels slip, and ice can make things a little frightening.

    As far as regular shovels go, I’m a big fan of the ‘S’ shaped handles. They really do save your back, and they’re usually very light.

    1. I’ve never tried a wovel but I can tell you a little trick I learned when I had a few snow shoveling contract in Quebec city to make sure snow don’t stick on your shovel. It’s PAM, the same you use while cooking, it works like a charm. But don’t forget you bottle in your car during cold night. Yep it exploded in mine. Not pretty.

    2. We have a long driveway, so got one a few years back.
      Really does work well, even with wet heavy New England snow.

      [Boondocker: if you want to try one out, what part of the country do you live in?]

      1. @Lis Riba: Eastern Canada.

        The amount of snow we had last winter make me wonder whether a scoop would be useful or not. Towards the peak of the season, the snow was higher than the snowblower, so the throwing effect really worked. However, the neighbours always had a clean driveway, and all they had was shovels.

  3. It’s 70 degrees here, so obviously I have no need for one of these, but I am happy to hear you are looking for an alternative to walking on an icy slope while pushing/pulling a large gas-powered leg-eater.

  4. i live in South Minneapolis and i could not make it a few blocks to get gas for the snow blower..side streets unplowed,can’t see half a block–when it go’s below zero tonite it’s going to be a Winter Wonderland!!..yes i have snow shoes–

  5. another option i’ve used, being a former new englander, is to use your core muscles to support you while shoveling. zero back pain.

  6. Uh oh, I see Tony Little getting ahold of this. “The momentum is not on your lower back at all, it’s up in your triceps and in your shoulders, your shoulder/back muscles. You can really feel it!”

    I think it needs a little “flip” trigger mechanism to eliminate the flick of the…bowl? whatever the business part of a shovel is called. A trigger to turn it vertical so the snow falls out.

  7. An non-back-breaking alternative to the wovel is the snow glider. Basically a big scoop that you don’t even try to lift. Instead, you fill the scoop, then use it as a sled to transport about 50 lbs of snow at a time to your dumping spot, where you jerk back while the snow has forward momentum, letting those 50 lbs of snow slide off the scoop. I’ve been able to clear my longer driveway faster than my neighbor with his (admittedly small) snow-blower.

    1. Gregory and Brett are correct, the scoop is the way to go. I can clear my 10×50 driveway, and two front walk faster and neater than my neighbour can clear is 15×15 drive and front walk using his large gas powered blower. It glides easily, pushes easily, moves a lot of snow and when I am running out of space, I just pile it up by giving a small tilt and the scoop rides right up the pile.

      The wovel looks like it would take 2 – 3 times as long to clear a drive, especially if you cannot simply move the snow to the edge of the driveway, but like me have to move it to the end.

    2. I use a similar scoop from Garant, called the Snow Sleigh. Easier than wrestling the snow blower that now rusts behind my garage. I used to have the Suncast model, but the upswept handle on the Garant lets me surf up over the banks without bending at the waist. Zero back pain.

  8. Minnesota here too–and I agree with Boondocker about the sticky snow problem. This thing looks like it would be great for nice fluffy snow, but I know here in Saint Paul by the time I get around to shoveling, the plow’s been by, the chemical truck’s been by and the snow in my plowed into my driveway is sloppy, heavy and sticky.

    @PeaceNerd –pfft! New England winter’s nothing compared to Minnesota Cold. ;)

  9. I can’t comment on the wovel, but my family has been using Snow Scoops for years. They’re awesome. And they’re made in the UP.

    We’ve used both the Silver Bear and the Kaufman. Silver Bear’s are galvanized steel and Kaufman’s are powder coated, with a non-stick(like?) surface inside the scoop. Both are great, but I prefer the Kaufman’s slippery texture. Both perform well with a coating of car wax inside and out. You can easily and quickly move a hell of a lot of snow with these. You simply push it along to scrape up a scoopful. When your scoop is full enough, angle back on the handle and it glides smoothly over the surface of the existing snow until you reach your deposit area. Give it a little shove and the load slides right out onto your pile. No goofy wheelie business.



    1. Speaking as a former UP resident, the snow scoops made in the UP are known there as “Yooper scoopers”

      For the amount of snow they get there, they’re indespensable, because there’s so much that you can’t just throw it, you have to haul it many feet to someplace to put it.

      I now live in lower Michigan, our snowfalls are more reasonable, like 2 or 3 feet max on the ground at once, and I just use a conventional shovel. I look forward to doing it, and I actually sold the gas powered 10HP blower that I was given because honestly it’s not any faster than using a shovel for a fit person, and it was an added danger and more crap to clutter up the garage.

    2. living in VT for 8 years and growing up in CT, it’s the snow-glider/scoop FTW.

      i’ve used a wovel a few times that my friend had. it was definitely better than a shovel. but for any serious amount of snow the snow scoop is far superior, especially when the snow is heavy.

      my buddy with the wovel has since switched back to the snow scoop.

  10. No idea how well it works, but if you don’t buy two wovels, then purchase a crappy little house so you can call one of the wovels the “Hovel Wovel,” you’re squandering a great opportunity.

  11. I live in Buffalo and have had one for 3 years and love it. It will give your upper body a work out but I can clear a 70′ driveway in less than 30 minutes without stopping.

  12. There are actually a lot of New Englanders who wear shorts in the dead of winter, either because we’re thick-skinned hard-asses, or because winters just ain’t as bad as they used to be (and if you’re doing strenuous exercise, and it’s not windy, shorts are just fine.)

    Part of me thinks this is a interesting and useful tool, and part of me thinks shoveling snow the old way builds a strong back, and I would prefer to have a strong back rather than another one-use gadget.

    1. Gotta agree with ill lich. (a) I *like* shovelling snow; that was my job when I was a kid so doing it always makes me feel like a kid again. (b) If your technique is decent, and you aren’t already injured, and you know when to take a breather, it’s good exercise. (And I say this as someone who had to shovel out three-foot-deep snow when I lived on a corner and had a four-car driveway.)

      I’ve hired neighborhood kids from time to time — but recently they haven’t been organized enough to get me to sign up in advance or to show up to make the sale before I start shovelling, and once I’ve started I’d rather finish the job myself.

  13. It’s called a snowplow….

    What is this guy doing in the upper midwest without a snowblower. I’ll bet the neighbors are haveing a good laugh just after they’ve plowed their 100′ driveway in 1/2 an hour. They’ll be eating lunch about the time you finally reach the Street.

    Go buy a SNOWBLOWER!!!

  14. As being irritating is my sole motivation, can I suggest that the best solution given heavy snow is to either stay at home, or use snowshoes or skis?

  15. The Wovel seems to have an advantage over any of the scoop models cited above in that it gives you leverage to throw the snow to the side. The scoops all seem to be premised on the idea that you are just pushing the snow straight ahead out into the street, which makes no sense for those of us on a city block where we have to throw the snow to the side at some point. I couldn’t possibly lift one of the scoops to empty it high up on a snowbank, while the Wovel appears to help out with the toss.

    I may look into one soon, but in the meantime, I need to go take my shovel to some of this fine Minnesota snow.

    1. You don’t have to pick up a snow scoop to dump it. I live in a neighborhood in Alaska and have limited space for putting shoveled snow but the snow scoop does the job. As others have mentioned, you can move a very large amount of snow in a short amount of time and with less effort than most shovels due to the giant scoop design. Just scoop up a bunch of snow, tilt the handle back, and push or drag the scoop to the dump location. With the front edge of the scoop tilted up off the ground, the scoop easily glides over un-shoveled snow and with a little momentum, glides up and over your shoveled/scooped pile of snow where you quickly jerk backward to deposit your scoop of snow. No lifting required. I can get a pile of snow over 3 feet high going and still get the scoop up over the top though it takes a lot more momentum then. :)

      I’ve never used a wovel though I’ve seen them and my worry is how one would knock stuck snow off the shovel blade. Seems the wheel would make the shovel cumbersome for that. But I think even a snow scoop has its own weakness (detailing) so it seems that no matter what it is good to have a smaller snow shovel around to use after the majority of the snow is moved.

  16. I’ve owned a wovel for 3 yrs and love it. The only thing that I’ve noticed is that its about ready for a new “scoop” or shovel part (they sell replacements). Its almost like the shovel part is warped or something. This is probably from repeatedly slamming that side into a bump in the concrete or something.

    I feel that I can clear my driveway faster with the wovel than can my snowblowing neighbors. You’re basically using it like a plow. I’ll say that there is no back pain but there is definitely a lot of work, you’re tuckered after (just like with shoveling but, again, no sore back).

    I’ve been pushing this thing on anyone who would listen since I’ve gotten it and they all look at me like I’m a friggin crazy person.

  17. I’m based in Scotland where we have just had extensive snow. I have one of these and it works pretty much exactly as advertised. Due to a bad back I used to struggle to clear my drive, now I quite happily do the drive, pavement (sidewalk for the U.S.) and street outside the house without any strain. There is a little flip action that you need to master to empty the scoop at the end of a run but once you have that no problem clearing fluffy or wet snow.

  18. My brother got my dad one of these. He stopped using it because all the neighbours kept laughing at him. Plus we had to dump the snow on the side, where he`d have to lift it anyway so didn`t really work out. I`ll ask him to try dumping it at the end of the driveway now that the city clears the driveway after plowing the road.

  19. Minnesota boy here. Snow scoops rule! You can have mine when you thaw my cold, blue fingers from around the handle.

  20. Where I live we can get some pretty heavy and wet snow in January and February. I’m not very good with power tools and I like to shovel. But I don’t like the pain from deep, heavy snow. Sooo Santa got me a Wovel for Christmas this year. Haven’t had enough snow yet to try it. I saw it on Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools a few years ago and have wanted one for quite some time. Looking forward to being the Weirdo on the block.

  21. Ex-UP here. Looks to me like the snow scoop has it all over the Wovel. You can push a snow scoop up on top of the snow along side your walk, and float it on top of thick snowfall over to where you want to dump it, in the middle of your yard, where the Wovel looks like it’s limited to where the wheel goes, which means as the winter goes on, your dumping zone gets smaller and smaller. And the scoop holds an awful lot of snow, too.

  22. I’m curious to hear from those of you who have used the wovel how it works when the snow gets really deep. It seems to me that even if you keep going out during a snowstorm and chipping away at it, if you have a large accumulation alongside the driveway/walk from *previous* snowfalls, it would be next to impossible to just flick the snow on the wovel over the top of the pile the way the guy does in this video.

  23. I’m going to wait this time. It’s only a matter of time before Dyson comes out with one that replaces the wheel with a BALL. I’m not getting burned by the same thing twice.

  24. “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” – William Morris

    that thing is both useful and beautiful!

  25. I own a Wovel, I have to say it’s a but underwhelming. Definitely an improvement on a simple shovel, but its usefulness depends heavily on the type of snow. Wet, heavy snow is difficult to eject. It makes quick work of the light fluffy stuff, but even then it runs into trouble once the snow depth gets above 3 or 4 inches. In summary I think it’s worth havng, but sadly it’s only one part of your snow-fighting arsenal.

  26. I just finished woveling my driveway, just short of an inch of heavy slush and snow.

    I got the dingus at the end of last year. Out of the box it had a broken wheel and the company was really good about sending me a new one.

    The device is much better on my back, and it can move a surprising amount of snow. My only complaints would be the overall length, which results in a little bit of trouble turning it around.

  27. So I have owned the Wovel for a couple of years (I live in southern Michigan so I don’t get the UP snow, but I have to deal with enough) and I have found it useful, but I have a couple of notes for those who are considering getting one:

    1) make sure you have extra nuts and bolts as I have lost a few every winter season

    2) alternatively, make sure you tighten the screws, nuts, and bolts before using the wovel each major storm.

    Having to do this is a bit of a pain from my perspective.

  28. We’ve had a wovel for a few years now, but it is a mixed thing. As others have mentioned, nuts and bolts fall off it all the time and it gets annoying having to keep things tightened while in the middle of using it. It is fine to use early in the winter when our drifts aren’t that high. Later on in the winter, or after a storm like to day I don’t even bother with it. It simply doesn’t allow you to throw snow that far so I have to fall back to a regular old fashion snow shovel to actually get snow out of the way.

    The Wovel is fine for places with light winters or for areas where the snow doesn’t stick around. If you have to deal with accumulation there are better options as have been mentioned by others.

  29. I live in Austin, it was 73 yesterday, 69 today, and I’m totally confused as to why anyone would live anywhere where this would even be remotely necessary.

    Of course, you’ll laugh at me next summer when it’s 100 degrees out (unless you live in Phoenix, then you’ll envy me), but at least I won’t have to dig my way out just to drive somewhere.

    1. I had lived in Austin for five years, and yes, I will also laugh at you when can’t drive during the inevitable “ice day” they have every year.
      But then again, you’ve probably already laughed at me for operating a pedicab in rainy, 45-degree January weather.

      I’m not going to lie. I dislike the task of shoveling snow as much as I dislike mowing the lawn. If I were employed by someone else these days, I’d enjoy calling in because I’m stuck in my driveway.

      1. Ah, but when there is the ice day in Austin, everything is closed & I can stay home and let the cowboys in pickups slide around into things.

    2. I’m totally confused as to why anyone would live anywhere where this would even be remotely necessary.

      That’s just the kind of defeatist talk that betrayed the Asteriod Miner’s Revolution of 2056.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s been ten years, time to change my spacesuit.

  30. I live near Cleveland, Ohio where we get a fair bit of lake effect snow. I’ve used a wovel for the last three years and like it a lot; much faster than a shovel, and a lot easier on my back. Still need a shovel for the narrow bits, and as someone earlier mentioned it’s so long that it’s a bit awkward to maneuver in tight quarters.

  31. We have an electric, the Toro 1800. It’s light enough to use on steps, and can easily handle Wisconsin snowplow driveway dams. It screams a bit but nothing like a gas-powered blower and there’s no smell. Main hassle is managing and coiling the power cord but that’s a lot easier than mixing gasoline and oil.

  32. Ontario snowbelt girl, here – (downwind from Lake Huron which means crap like the 177 centimetres (69.7 inches) of snow that fell over two days last week.) The problem I see with the Wovel is that you can’t get a good long throw. When you have so much snow that you have to store it in your backyard, you really need to have a shovel that will let you throw the snow several feet and make towering piles.

  33. I’ve owned a Wovel for about a year, and was rewarded by a ton of snow this past winter in the Washington, DC area. The Wovel is all that it’s cracked up to be — a real pleasure to use on anything up to 18″ or so. If you wait until the snow is 3 feet deep, however (it snowed while we were in Florida, and we returned to 30″ of snow in our driveway), you’ll wish you had enterprising kids in the neighborhood, instead, though. Even on 30″, however, the Wovel was remarkably efficient. No back ache, although I did hurt my right thumb (it still hasn’t recovered completely).

  34. We don’t get a whole lot of snow around where I live, but I use an aluminum grain shovel. It doesn’t flex or warp like those cheap plastic snow shovel things. Yeah it weighs a tad more, but I can move twice as much snow with it as well. That includes busting ice and shoveling it.

  35. I’m the proud owner of a Wovel. My favorite thing about it is that my neighbors stop to stare and ask questions. Works great until the snow banks build up and then you have to get a running start to propel the shovel up and over the bank and then tip it over. And you need some room to maneuver it. Despite these draw backs, it’s great fun to use. But don’t throw out your regular shovel just yet.

  36. As a fellow South-Minneapolitaner I second the recommendation for a Toro electric. I just finished doing my driveway with one – it’s super-powerful. Our driveway has a garage on one side, an alley on another, and a fence on the other two (with just a little triangle area to pile snow). So I have to have something strong enough to throw snow over the fence. The electric works great, and I can pick it up with one hand. I carry it through the house (yes, dropping snow everywhere) when I need to go from the back yard to the front yard.

  37. I built a wooden snow shovel
    after a big Ohio snowstorm in 1984. A piece of 1/2″ plywood attached to a 2 x 6, sculpted w/ an angle to accept the blade, and a narrow handle. I put a bevel on the edge of the plywood blade for scraping. After 15 or so years I brought the shovel to Minnesota and proudly showed it off to the incredulous Minnesotans.

    I still use it although I’ve made another, “modified” version with a longer handle and smaller blade. I call it specialized for Minnesota.

    Finally I keep a coal shovel in the back of my pickup for the ice and plow snow.

    I’d love to see a Wovel in my neighborhood.

  38. For the past few years I have been using a Wovel and a weak old snow thrower. I snow throw as much of the driveway as possible and then use the Wovel on all the super heavy wet stuff the plow trucks have left behind. The really nice thing about this is that I can move the wet stuff across the street where it does not bother anyone. (it gets plowed onto the edges of a park)

    It would take me forever to clear the end of the driveway with a shovel.

  39. Lots of comments! Anyway I also own a Wovel. Have a long 300′ driveway, live in mid-central Indiana (thus only occasional snowfalls but some deep), and am in my mid-50s. The Wovel is very good at clearing my drive without hurting my back. I still need a normal shovel for the edge cases. My neighbor probably clears his drive a lot faster with his mini-snowplow on his tractor but then I figure that the time is not a factor and that the exercise is good for me. If I didn’t have the Wovel then I would need a plow or a snowblower. The Wovel is just that easy on the back.

  40. I notice that this enthusiastic wovel user is the sort of inconsiderate slob that dumps his spoil in front of the car parked next to his own. He does not get back pain as much from the fact that he isn’t moving the snow very far as from the device itself.

  41. Ok, I’m taking it all back. I previously commented #59 that I loved my wovel, but after clearing a portion of my driveway today (in southern WI), the wheel snapped in two. I’ve only had it for 1 year, so I would expect a little more wear…But, what do I know? I’m a native Texan!

  42. I wonder if anyone has tried making a DIY version of this? Shouldn’t be too hard… Big bike tire in the middle, two shovels made into one…

  43. not to rub anybodys nose in it, but here in california, we say “snow? what’s Snow?”

    three years ago we took the kids up to the mountains to see the little patches of ice melting by the road side, so thay would have some idea of what snow was.

    tomorrows forcast will be cold and misty (60 degrees), it may get down to 50 degrees overnight…(brrrrrr) makes me want to put on my parka

  44. I have a wovel ,and it’s good , but : the nuts come loose after vigorous wovelling for 15 min ( not hard to put back , tho), and it’s good for the really big snows, but smaller ones are easier with some type of pushing shovel. I have 5 different implements for shoveling (Upstate NY) -each is for a different snow problem.we are trying to emulate the idea that : there are different words , and shovels/scrapers , for different types of snow.I hope to make a video of our culture of shoveling one day.

  45. I can hit the yard across the street with my single stage honda snowblower.

    In the summer I mow a pretty big yard with a Scotts non-motorized lawn mower, but I can pick and choose a convenient time to do so. In the winter when the driveway needs to be cleared, it needs to be cleared.

  46. I have owned and used one of these this winter, have done my drive way four times, the last time about 2 hours ago. I’m 72 years old and have been very pleased with this thing. No back ache only shoulders are just abit sore the next day. Used it in light snow and today in very heavy wet snow. It takes just a little practice to unload the scoop but other than that, it’s a piece of cake. Highly recommend it and I have no affliation with product what so ever.

Comments are closed.