Sunday, June 23, 2013

6/23/13 Report - The Scoop on Metal Detecting Scoops & More

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

The type of digging/recovery tool you use is important and can save a lot of time.  Having the right recover tool for the job can save a lot of time, let you cover more ground and increase your finds.  The more finds you make, the better chance you have of making a great find.  Sometimes it is better to go for quality rather than quantity though.  I'll talk more about that in my next post.

The selection of a digging tool can be very important because you want to spend your time on the beach as efficiently as possible, and there is always more beach than you can cover well.

No one tool scoop or tool is best for every location or situation.   The best tool might even change from day to day at the same location.  One day you might choose a shovel, another day a trowel, another day a small sand scoop, and another day a huge long handled scoop.

The best all-around recovery tool that will serve relatively well for most beach situations would be a long handled extra heavy-duty scoop, preferably with a wood or very heavy-duty handle.  Heavy PVC can work.  IT is generally better to have something more than you need rather than less capable than what you need.   The "don't take a knife to a gun fight" argument applies here.

On the other hand, when you don't need something big or heavy duty, a small recovery tool can be better.  It is easier to transport, carry around, easier to keep away from your detector coil, and does not draw as much attention - a factor that is sometimes important to me. 

You want something that can dig through whatever you are likely to encounter, but will sift sand quickly.

When selecting (or making) a long handled scoop, the shape of the handle is important in more ways than one.  The handle should be shaped for a good grip.  PVC and other materials can be slippery and difficult to easily manipulate with one hand.  A square handle is easier to manipulate than a tubular handle.  

An attached bungy cord on the end of the handle can also be very handy allowing you to easily drag the scoop around, and maintain control of it if you lose your grip or want to put the scoop down at times when you want another free hand. 

If working in or near rough water, attaching the scoop to yourself can prevent the loss of an expensive scoop.  I know of a couple of cases where people lost an expensive scoop to the ocean.

I've used mostly wood for a long time and prefer it for more than one reason.  I like how a wood handle floats, although other handles will float, of course, if they are hollow and capped or filled with a light material such as Styrofoam.

The proper weight balance is important, especially in the water.  I like for my scoop to float straight up with the handle pointing up and the scoop staying near the bottom.  I also don't want extra metal that can be detected by the coil.  While you might think that is no problem, even a little extra effort caused by carrying the scoop so it is out of the way can get tiring.   And the more sensitive your detector is, the farther you have to keep metal away from it.   You might not even realize when the metal is coming close enough to affect the detector as background just because it is not causing an identifiable signal.

Size and number of holes is important, especially when working in the water.   You want a good flow of sand and water through the scoop, but of course don't want to lose too many small things through the holes.

On land, a real small target can be thrown right onto the coil to make detection easier.

I've shown and mentioned before how a magnet strategically placed in a scoop can catch ferrous junk and speed up recovery.

Water can really help increase the speed of sifting when digging in wet sand.  When in the water, you can use the natural flow and currents to help push the sand through the scoop while minimizing our own effort.  For example when digging in the low tide zone where the water is coming and going, dig with the point of the scoop pointing up the slope and away from the ocean.  With your back to the ocean, the returning water will rush through the scoop washing sand through as you dig.  When that is the case, you might not even have to lift the scoop or shake it to sift the sand out.  The water rushing through will do most of the work for you.

When working in the water, chains can be very difficult to recover with a long handled scoop.  Part of the chain will get in the scoop, but the part hanging out will pull the chain out as you lift the scoop.  When you suspect you might be trying to get a chain in the scoop, it is a good idea if you can stick your face in the water to see the chain.  If you work exclusively in the water on a particular day, there are several advantages to using a snorkel mask and keeping your face in the water.  Keeping your head in the water is one good way to not draw too much attention. 

There are times when you might not want to use a long handled scoop, especially when you want to maintain a low profile. 

If you are working a high crime area, a long handled scoop can make a pretty good weapon.  It can also be used as a barrier to keep people back a little way when curious kids or whoever persist in getting in the way.  I prefer to hunt when there are no many people around but sometimes you might need to hunt in crowds of swimmers.

When curious people are trying to look in your scoop, if you vigorously shake the scoop while it is still under a foot or two of water, the sand will disperse and cloud the water up so no one can see what is in the scoop.  Then stick your hand in the scoop, quickly remove the item by feel and slip it in your pocket before anyone sees what it is.  If people are crowding around, definitely wait until you find a better time to closely inspect your find.

It is not a good idea to make a public show of whatever it is that you find.  I've told before about how some people will try to claim an item that they did not lose if they see what you have found.  Also there are criminals out there.  No need to be paranoid, but do be wise and aware.  The location and density of people is something to consider.

There are times when you will find the digging difficult.   The obstacles can be things like rocks, roots, or clay.  A scoop that can cut roots or work through obstacles can be helpful.  It isn't worth bending the point of a good scoop though.  Once the point is bent, it will be a continuing problem.

And when working a bottom that is densely packed rocks, I usually foot-fan rather than try to dig.  Fanning will lift the sand and small shells out of the crevices and loosen the rocks.  It can be a lot easier and quicker than trying to dig.  When foot fanning do use some type of foot wear to protect our foot.  Fishing lures can come out of the hole and stick right in your foot.

One thing that you can do is learn to pinpoint well.  It can be done quickly and really cut down on the amount of time spent digging.   Learn to assess depth as well as location.  Digging too much sand takes longer to sift through.

If you work dry sand, there is little need for a long handled scoop other than saving your back.

Select your scoop, trowel, shovel or other tools carefully after taking all of these factors in consideration.

Did you see the Supermoon Friday night?  It was bright.  Bright again Saturday night as well.  Really lit things up.   It was at its lunar perigee, and the closest it will get to the Earth this year.

The blog poll seems to be coming along nicely.   It shows a definite trend even if it isn't complete.  Sometimes the polls take a turn and end up differently than they start.  I'd like to get all of you to participate.  The data helps us all.   Thanks for your participation.

My most recent post should be a reminder to all of us that there are more important things in life than most of the things we fret about and pay attention too.  Life on this earth doesn't last forever.  Make the most of the moments, and keep the most important things in their proper place.  Don't make life more difficult than it needs to be for yourself or others.  Don't fret the small stuff.

Robert K. sent me a link to a nice video of a fellow detecting.  He was doing a great job and coming up with some good finds.   I noticed a couple of things in the video that I wanted to comment on.  I mentioned some of those in today's post.  The emails I receive really help me do this blog.  Sometimes all it takes is something that makes me think of something that I think I should talk about.  Thanks for your emails and help.

Two more cannons were raised from the wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge, Blackbeard's ship.

On the Treasure Coast today the surf is supposed to be a little rougher than it was most of last week, 2 - 3 feet.   That isn't much, but it can make a difference.

The wind is still from the South.  The good thing is that the low tide will be nice and low due in part to the lunar cycle.

There are no cyclones right now.

Be safe and have fun,