Forklift Forks Guide

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Forklift forks guide

One of the standard features of a forklift are the forks.  The forks are used for lifting whatever load the operator needs to lift.  Typically, the load is secured to a pallet but you will also see forklifts lifting boxes, wood, stone, bricks and just about any other  type of material you can think of.

Forklift Fork Terminology

  • Blade – this is the horizontal part of the fork where the load sits.
  • Heel – where the fork takes a turn from the blade to the shank.
  • Shank – the vertical part that connects the fork to the carriage.
  • Hooks – the part that hangs of the shank so the fork can be connected to the carriage.
  • Tip – the end of the blade
  • Positioning Lock – part at the top of the shank that secures the position of the fork on the carriage.

Forklift Carriage Sizes

When buying and replacing forklift forks, the first thing you will want to consider is the size of your forklift’s carriage.  The fork shank (the vertical part not resting on the ground) will fit only one carriage size.  You can measure the forklift carriage by measuring the height from the bottom of the carriage to the top.  This measurement will match the distance between the bottom and top hook on the fork.

  • Class I – rated for loads up to 2000lbs. Carriage spacing is 13 inches.
  • Class II – rated for loads up to 5,550lbs. Carriage spacing is 16 inches.
  • Class III – rated for loads up  to 10,000lbs. Carriage spacing is 20 inches.
  • Class IV – rated for loads up to 15,500lbs. Carriage spacing is 25 inces.

Fork Lengths

Forks typically range in length from as short as 24 inches to as long as 108 inches.  They can be longer, but that is rare.  Shorter forks are usually used on forklifts with lighter capacities whereas the longer forks are more often used on machines with heavier capacities.

Some lighter capacity forklifts use longer forks for unique applications, but this  is less common.

Fork Mounting

  • ITA (Industrial Truck Association) – this type of fork mounting uses hooks to secure the fork to the carriage.
  • Shaft Mounting – a fork with a shaft mounting has a hole at the top through which the carriage shaft is passed.  The fork hangs from this shaft.

Fork Thickness and Width

Forklift forks are made in various thicknesses and lengths depending on the fork’s maximum lifting capacity and based on the customer’s needs.  Forklift users lift many different types of materials so they need forks with different widths, tapers, and thicknesses.

For instance, many forklifts are equipped with 48″ long forks.  However, the width of the fork blade can vary from 4″ to 8″.

The fork thickness can also vary.  Some users need thin forks that can easily slide under loads like lumber or drywall.  While other forks need to be thick to handle heavier loads.

Other Types of Forks

Other fork types are available, however these forks are less common since they are used for specialized applications.

  • Coil handling forks
  • Drum forks
  • Block forks
  • Folding forks
  • Spark retardant forks

Have you ever seen a forklift pick a coin up off the ground?

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