Excess friction on the front and rear surfaces of the tool blade is what makes digging in clay or other dense, compacted soils so difficult. It's similar to cutting a large block of cheddar cheese with a wide bladed knife. No matter how sharp the knife edge, the deeper you cut, the more difficult it gets. Yet, you can easily slice the loaf of cheese with a wire. The wire has almost no surface, so there is no drag to overcome. Likewise, a clay spade, which looks like a 3-tine fork with a small blade at the bottom, has very little surface and consequently, accrue little drag as you push it into the soil. Then, as you lift the tool to turn or toss it, it remains intact, especially if slightly damp. The soil does not fall through the gaps between the tines. However, that does not hold true if the soil is sandy or otherwise light and dry. The clay spade is all but useless in light soils. Overall length of tool with 48" handle is 64".