Hand shear vane tests are generally undertaken in cohesive (silt/clay) soils exposed in the base or walls of trial pits, or intact blocks of soil arising from unsupported excavations below 1.2m depth.

The test provides a direct indication of the undrained shear strength of the soil, which can be used to verify assessments of soil consistency; and provides a more accurate estimate of the net allowable bearing capacity for foundation design.