How to Get a Shovel in Animal Crossing

The Shovel serves many useful purposes in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but getting one in the first place can prove tricky. It is the 4th tool that you unlock, but may take you a couple of days as several tasks need to be completed first. Once you have one, you’ll be able to dig up Fossils, Gyroids, and more. You can also hit rocks with them, although the Axe also suffices for that.

Shovels at a Glance

You unlock the Flimsy Shovel after donating 5 Bugs or Fish to Blathers, who will give you the crafting recipe. You can then upgrade it to a Shovel after buying the Pretty Good Tools Recipe Pack. If you prefer different designs, Nook’s Cranny has three custom variants in rotation in the cabinet for 2,500 Bells each.

shovel at the beach
Shovels are so useful for clearing tree stumps after you chop them down with your axe.

Unlocking the Shovel

After you arrive on the island, Tom Nook will enlist your help to make it more appealing to new residents. His grand idea is to start a Museum, and to do that, we need to invite his friend Blathers. Of course, there’s no point in inviting an expert when you’ve got nothing to show him, so it’s your job to convince him to visit.

Tom Nook will give you the crafting recipes for a Flimsy Net and a Flimsy Fishing Rod, and you can use these to catch the various Bugs and Fish that appear on your island. To unlock the Shovel, you will need to catch a total of at least 5. You then need to show these to Tom Nook, and then he’ll invite Blathers to your island. Blathers is the one who gives you the crafting recipe for a Flimsy Shovel. If you share an island and you’re not the player who completed this quest, you can buy the crafting recipe from Nook’s Cranny for 280 Bells.

If you wish to upgrade your Flimsy Shovel, you’ll need to purchase the Pretty Good Tools Recipe Pack. This can be found by accessing the Nook Stop terminal in Resident Services. You’ll need to select the option to spend your Nook Miles, and then the recipe pack will be available to buy for 3,000 Nook Miles. You’ll then unlock the recipe for a Shovel, which will be sent straight to your phone. You’ll immediately be able to access it from the crafting menu, without needing to take the extra step to learn it from your inventory.

buying flimsy shovel recipe
Don’t worry if you weren’t the player who Blathers gave the recipe to, you can still get one for yourself from Nook’s Cranny.

Getting Your Hands on One

Of course, unlocking it is only half the battle. You will need to either craft or buy one to get it for yourself. There are three main types of shovels, so let’s take a look at the crafting/ purchasing requirements.

Flimsy Shovel

This is the first type of shovel you unlock, and is a little harder to craft than the other flimsy tools. Whilst the rest of them utilise Tree Branches which can easily be found on the ground, this one needs wood. You get this by chopping trees with your axe, but it can take a little while as there are three types of wood that trees drop. To craft a Flimsy Shovel, you need:

  • 5 x Hardwood

You can also buy a Flimsy Shovel for 800 Bells from Nook’s Cranny. Wilbur will sell it to you for 100 Nook Miles on Mystery Islands, but this is not worth it. If you’re planning to go to a Mystery Island, take tools with you. You can always drop them later if you need the space, and just craft/ buy more when you get back to your island.


The upgraded version of the Flimsy Shovel, the Shovel offers more than twice the durability. It’s also relatively easy to craft, as, like most upgraded tools, it only requires one additional material. This is what you need to craft a Shovel:

  • 1 x Flimsy Shovel
  • 1 x Iron Nugget

It’s worth noting that the only way to get a Shovel is to craft one yourself, as you can’t buy one. Instead, Nook’s Cranny will sell you one of the three custom variants below.

It’s more than twice as robust as the Flimsy Shovel, and only costs 1 Iron Nugget.

Custom Variants

There are three custom variants of the Shovel, all with the same stats as the regular one. Nook’s Cranny will randomly have one of these in the store each day, so you may have to wait a while if you have a preference. You cannot craft these designs, so the only way to get them is to buy them. The designs are:

  • Colorful Shovel
  • Outdoorsy Shovel
  • Printed Shovel

All three cost 2,500 Bells each, and can be found in the cabinet in Nook’s Cranny.

outdoorsy shovel
2,500 Bells is a fair price to pay to have a fancier version of the Shovel

Golden Shovel

This is the ultimate in Animal Crossing shovel technology. It’s also by far the toughest to get and will take a long time to unlock. To get it, you have to help Gulliver a total of 30 times. He’s a seafaring seagull who occasionally washes up on your shore, and requires your assistance to get back to his boat. There are two similar events, one with Gulliver, and one with Gullivarr (who looks exactly like Gulliver, but he wears a pirate costume).

Only the regular version of Gulliver counts towards unlocking the Golden Shovel. After you help him for the 30th time, the next day you’ll receive a message in your mailbox. It’ll be from Gulliver, and will contain the recipe for the Golden Shovel. It can be crafted using the following:

  • 1 x Shovel
  • 1 x Gold Nugget

It cannot be bought or found any other way except by crafting it. It can be used a total of 200 times before it’ll break, and you’ll need to craft a new one.

We Dug Deep

And there you have it! Everything that you need to know to get all types of shovels in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. As you can see, it’s an essential tool, so the game makes it pretty easy for you to get hold of. You never know when you’re going to find buried treasure, so I recommend always having one to hand in your inventory. Registering it to your tool wheel means you’ll be able to quick-select it whenever you want to dig something up.

Collecting the materials for a Flimsy Shovel and then a Shovel can be a bit of a hassle, so I never do that. Instead, I simply go to the shop and buy whichever version they have on sale that day. This is my favorite way to play as it saves time, and gets me a much prettier shovel. I especially love the Printed Shovel, so I tend to buy multiple versions of it when it’s on sale. If you have a favorite, try to stock up, and store any extras in your home’s storage!

You never know when you’re going to find something worth digging. This spot turned out to be a Gyroid!


Question: Can you Customize the Shovel in Animal Crossing?

Answer: You can’t customize the Flimsy Shovel, but you can with the Shovel by taking it to Cyrus on Harv’s Island or using your Workbench. You can also customize the colors of any of the three variants sold in Nook’s Cranny.

Question: How do you Upgrade your Shovel in Animal Crossing?

Answer: You can upgrade a Flimsy Shovel to a Shovel by purchasing the Pretty Good Tools Recipe Pack from the Nook Stop terminal. You’ll then be able to take your Flimsy Shovel to a Workbench along with 1 Iron Nugget, and craft a Shovel.

Question: Is There an Unbreakable Shovel in Animal Crossing?

Answer: Short answer, no. All the shovels available in Animal Crossing: New Horizons will eventually break. However, the Golden Shovel has the best durability, and will last twice as long as the regular Shovel.

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