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Is the length of the shaft important?

Shop for Garden Forks

Different sized handles Yes, the length of the shaft is important. There are a variety of fork lengths; the one you choose should be determined by your frame and the task you are doing.
A careful balance between the two is needed If you choose only one fork, try to find a balance between these two factors.
Wonkee Donkee says 'Don't get shafted on the length!  Try the shovel for size before you buy.

Shaft lengths

A pitchfork will usually have a longer shaft for extra leverage when pitching and throwing The standard length of a shaft is 700mm (28 inches).  Depending on the size of the blade, this is usually suitable for people between 1.65m (5 ft 5) and 1.73m (5 ft 8) in height. For those taller, look for lengths from 800mm (32 inches). Some shafts measure as much as 1.4mm (54 inches) plus, e.g. a pitch fork.
Ideal for users of most heights For more petite frames, look for a shaft of 660mm (26 inches) or less. A border fork is ideal with its slightly narrower and lighter form. Alternatively, a telescopic fork has an adjustable shaft usually ranging from 660mm (26 inches) to 800mm (32 inches) plus.

Match the length of the shaft to your height

When stood on its end – on the tip of the tines – the top of your fork’s handle grip should reach your lower chest. This will avoid constant stooping when working with the shovel.

A wide reach helps with controlling the fork and your balance A longer shaft will allow a tall person to stand up straighter when working, reducing the amount of bending and back strain required.  A longer fork also gives a wider reach when grasping the shaft. For more information, see the page: What do we mean by leverage?
The bent shaft means the user does not have to bend so much and put extra strain on the back Likewise, a shorter person digging with a long fork may find it harder to apply enough force from the handle. A longer shaft will also make lifting the fork more difficult.  In this respect, look for a fork with a bent shaft, i.e. an ergonomic fork. The bend in the shaft makes the top part work in a more horizontal position, which means the user does not have to stoop so low, thus reducing back strain.
They are also useful when digging deep holes or cutting through hard ground

Match the length of the shaft to the task

Forks with long shafts tend to provide more power to dig through harder materials and more leverage to pitch and throw material into a heap.

Longer shafts are best for…

Digging deep holes and trenches, cutting through turf, awkward weeds and dense materials, spreading hay from hay bales.

such as inside a greenhouse. Forks with shorter shafts give you more control for delicate work such as digging in flower beds and confined spaces, against a wall and in tight corners.

Shorter shafts are best for…

Working in small areas such as a greenhouse.