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How to use a fork?

How to use a fork

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Learn how best to use your fork in this section. There is just no better feeling than using the tines of your fork to boldly plunge where no blade has plunged before! So you know when to use a fork instead of a spade, but do you know how to use your fork properly? A fork may look simple enough to use – and it is – but the guidelines in this section will help you make the most from your tool while safeguarding your muscles.
Consider the type of fork that you use.  Remember from our section on the number of the tines:

  • Four tines – ideal for digging
  • The more tines, the smaller the gaps – ideal for lifting and pitching finer, more crumbly material such as shredded bark and decaying leaves.
  • The fewer tines, the wider the gaps – ideal for lifting and pitching coarse, dry material such as hay and straw.

Now it’s time to dig the dirt…

Use a fork with four tines for digging

Step 1 – Hold fork

Stand with your feet shoulders width apart and place your feet closely behind the tines of the fork. Grip the handle with both hands, hold the tines vertically above the soil and let gravity guide you!

Digging is the most effective if you dig straight down.

Digging technique - place foot on tread, check posture

Step 2 – Stand straight and add weight

Some forks have a treaded blade or a rolled shoulder which helps you to get a firm footing. Push the tines straight down with your foot and aim to keep the pit wall straight and smooth. You can also use your fork to break up rocky soil. If you encounter a boulder or any hard clumps of earth, try to dig under it to prise it out.

 
Digging technique - keep knees slightly bent

Step 3 –  Use handle shaft for leverage

Bend your knees and hold the fork with one hand on the handle grip and the other halfway down the shaft. Place the tines underneath the soil, lever the shaft with both hands to balance the weight of the loaded fork and lift.

For more information on leverage, please read our page: What is leverage?

Step 4 – Avoid stooping

As you lift, straighten your knees gradually – use the muscles in your legs to power the lift. Try not to bend from the waist.

Digging technique - keep load close to body

Step 5 – Put soil to one side

As you clear away the soil, keep the loaded fork close to your body. Holding a forkful of soil with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine.