What are the different types of fork?

 
     
 Points to consider when choosing a shovel 

It is important that you understand the anatomy of a fork so that you select the right one for the job. 

 

We have discussed the five key criteria from which to differentiate forks:

 
     
 The different parts of a fork  

1. How the tines are attached to the handle

2. Shape and number of the tines

3. Length of the shaft and the type of handle grip

4. Materials used to make a fork

5. Weight

 
     
  

By understanding the configuration of a fork, you will be able to identify an inferior fork over a high calibre one as well as understand the jargon that manufacturers use, so you can get maximum benefit from the tool you choose.

 

Now it's time to dig the dirt on the different types of fork. 

 
     
 

Type of fork

 

Application

 

Features

 

Digging fork

 

(or garden fork / spading fork) 

  
 

An general purpose digging fork

 
  • Digging, especially in hard ground. 

  • Breaking up, sifting and aerating (oxygenating) soils.

  • Digging up plants, bulbs and roots particularly those stubborn ones.

 

  • Usually has four long tines with sharp points for easy soil penetration.

  • For work on or near live cables, use an insulated fork.  These are covered in our section on 'Insulated forks'.

   

 

 

 

 

Border fork

 

(or shrubbery fork / ladies fork) 

  
 

A border fork is a more compact version of the digging fork

 
  • Working in tight spaces or narrow borders and raised beds. 

  • Ideal general purpose fork for people with smaller frames.

 

  • Has a narrower head and a shorter shaft than a that of a standard digging fork.

  • Usually has four long tines with sharp points for easy soil penetration.

   

 

 

 

 

Potato fork

    
 

A traditional potato fork with blunted ends to avoid stabbing your potatoes as you lift them

 
  • An agricultural fork designed for lifting potato crops from the ground.

  • Can also be used to extract other root vegetable crops such as carrots, radishes and beets.

 

  • Traditional potato forks usually have as many as ten tines with blunted ends to avoid damaging crops.

  • Some forks, however, have just four tines with bayonet-shaped ends.

  • For more information, please refer to 'What are the different types of fork?'

      
 

Compost fork

 

(or manure / mulch fork)

  
 

This fork has four widely-spaced tines and a curved shape for easy scooping

 
  • Loosening, aerating and transplanting compost or manure.

  • Turning over and moving other bulk organic material such as mulch.  

  • General mucking out!

 

 

  • The shape and number of tines can vary depending on the job you wish to do.  

  • For more information, please refer to 'What are the different types of fork?'

      
 

Pitchfork

 

(or hay fork)

  
 

 typical pitchfork

 
  • Lifting and spreading bulk material such as hay bales, straw and barley.

  • Ideal for clearing away tree trimmings and landscape waste from your garden.

  • Turning over and moving compost and any other dense organic material.

 

  • Usually no more than two or three tines.

  • Shaft is also extra long and does not usually have a handle grip.

      
 

Trenching fork

    
 

A trenching fork

 

Similar in design to the digging fork but more suited to heavy-duty work such as:

  • Breaking up uncultivated, stubborn soils.

  • Preparing stony impenetrable ground for digging trenches.

 

 

  • Has four broad and solid tines, usually thicker than the tines on most conventional forks.

  • For work on or near live cables, use an insulated fork.  These are covered in our section on 'Insulated forks'.

      
 

Ballast fork

    
 

A ballast fork is used for moving and loading coarse stone such as gravel, ballast and tarmac

 
  • Moving and loading stone, ballast and tarmac.

  • Used by railway workers to transfer roadbed ballast.

 

  • Usually between 8 and 10 heavy duty tines. 

  • For work on or near live cables, use an insulated fork.  These are covered in our section on 'Insulated forks'.

      
 

Ergonomic fork

    
 

The bend means the user does not have to stoop so much and put extra strain on the back

 
  • Specifically designed to reduce back strain .

 

  • Look for a fork with an ergonomic design such as a bend in the length of shaft if you suffer with a bad back or want to avoid injury.

  • Look for designs with additional handles halfway down the shaft to minimise stooping and to help with balance.

  • Check that the handle grip is also ergonomic .

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