How to Get a Shovel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Learn how to upgrade a flimsy shovel, too

Obtaining your first shovel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an important step. The shovel is used to dig up fossils, which fill out the museum collection and can be sold for bells. You can also find buried bells or use the shovel for landscaping.

How to Get Your First Shovel (on a New Island)

Players starting a new island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons can’t craft a shovel until completing a few tasks in the game’s tutorial.

  1. Tom Nook will ask you to donate five fish or bugs early in the tutorial. Use a fishing rod to catch fish, or the bug net to catch bugs. Afterwards, he’ll give you a Tent Kit that will set up a spot for Blathers, the game’s much-loved museum curator.

  2. Use the Tent Kit to pick a spot for Blathers. Make sure you like it, as the spot you pick is where the museum will eventually appear. 

  3. Blathers’ tent takes time to build. Wait until the next real-world calendar day.

    Animal Crossing relies on the time and date of your Nintendo Switch to manage in-game time. If you’re impatient, you can skip to the next calendar day by changing the clock on your Switch. This setting is found on your Switch in System Settings > System > Date and Time.

  4. Visit Blathers’ tent once it’s complete. He needs help digging up fossils, so he’ll give you the crafting recipe for the Flimsy Shovel. You can then craft the shovel at any available DIY workbench.

How to Get Your First Shovel (on an Established Island)

Players creating a new character on an island that is already established will encounter a faster, less specific tutorial. Here's how to get a shovel if you're a new resident on an old island.

  1. Tom Nook will give you a Tent Kit when you arrive on the island. Use it to find a location for your tent, which will eventually be the location of your home.

  2. Return to Tom Nook at the Island Services building after setting up your tent. He'll mention that he offers a DIY workshop. Take him up on the offer and he'll ask you to craft a Flimsy Fishing Rod.

    New Animal Crossing character at Island Services
  3. The Flimsy Fishing Rod requires five branches. Collect them by shaking trees. Then return to the Island Services and use the DIY crafting area next to Tom Nook to craft the fishing rod.

  4. Once finished, speak again to Tom Nook. He'll unlock the DIY app and several basic DIY recipes for you. A shovel is not among these, but don't worry. Nook's Cranny sells a Flimsy Shovel recipe for 280 Bells.

    Animal Crossing new resident unlocking DIY recipes

How to Craft a Shovel

The Flimsy Shovel is the most basic shovel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

You need five pieces of Hardwood to craft it. You can obtain Hardwood by hitting trees with an axe.

Once you have the Hardwood, you can craft the Flimsy Shovel at any crafting station.

Animal Crossing crafting recipe for a Flimsy Shovel

How to Upgrade a Shovel

While it does the job, the Flimsy Shovel breaks easily. You’ll want to upgrade it as quickly as possible.

You can unlock the standard Shovel by purchasing the Pretty Good Tools kit from the Nook Stop for 2,000 Nook Miles. The kit also unlocks standard versions of other common tools; Axe, Stone Axe, Fishing Rod, Net, and Watering can.

Once you know the recipe, you can craft the Shovel by combining a Flimsy Shovel with one Iron Nugget.

Iron Nuggets can be obtained by hitting stones with a shovel or axe. You might also obtain them from balloon presents or villagers.

Animal Crossing crafting recipe for a Shovel

You Can Buy One, Too

While you can craft a Flimsy Shovel, you can also buy shovels from Nook’s Cranny. Typically, you will find the Flimsy Shovel for sale at 800 Bells.

After upgrading Nooks Cranny to its final, largest floorplan, you’ll see new options. These include the Colorful, Outdoorsy, and Printed-Design Shovel. All three cost 2500 Bells, all three have a unique look, and none of them can be crafted. You can only purchase them.

Buying one of these shovels, once available, is a good idea. It’s quicker than crafting, doesn’t require the use of an Iron Nugget, and the price of 2500 Bells is insignificant once you've spent enough time playing Animal Crossing to unlock the final version of Nook's Cranny.

Animal Crossing character shopping at Nook's Cranny

How to Get the Best Shovel

The ultimate shovel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the Golden Shovel. It’s superior because it lasts 200 uses, while standard shovels last 100 uses.

You obtain the recipe for the Golden Shovel after helping Gulliver, a gull you find stranded on your beach, 30 times. The recipe is the same as a Shovel, but use a Golden Nugget instead of the Iron Nugget.

The Golden Nugget is a very rare resource that occasionally appears when you hit a rock.

While the Golden Shovel is durable, it’s arguable that the Golden Nugget is better used for other crafting recipes—unless you really dig walking around with a fancy shovel, of course.

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