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What is a digging fork?

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Its uses

An general purpose digging fork Also known as a garden fork or a spading fork, this is an all-purpose fork found in most garden sheds.

With its piercing tines, a digging fork can penetrate soil much more effortlessly than a spade, particularly compacted or rocky soil.

An example of the many uses of a digging fork

Other uses include:

  • Breaking up, sifting and aerating (oxygenating) soils.
  • Digging up plants, bulbs and roots particularly those stubborn ones.
  • Turning over and spreading compost.
  • Removing decaying leaves, moss and other debris from the garden.

The tines

The tines have flat faces to enable effective digging A digging fork normally has four long tines with sharp points for easy soil penetration and a head dimension of 304.8 x 203.2mm (12 x 8 inches).

Look for flat-faced tines to give that extra pull when digging out awkward roots or turning soil.

The tines and sockets are forged from one sheet of steel The most robust tines are forged from one piece of steel.  That is, either a solid socket connection…
Two steel straps secured to a wooden shaft with rivets …or a strapped socket connection.

For more information on socket connections, please see our section: How are the tines attached to the shaft?

A fork fitted with footholds known as tread A fork with a flattened foothold (or tread) will give support when extra force is needed and help prevent the foot from slipping.

Ever bruised your ankle when digging?  Then you will know how painful this can be!

The shaft

Make sure that the joins on a steel fork are of a high quality A steel fork should have high quality welds (metal joins) that have no open points to allow water to enter. This will reduce the risk of internal rust and damage.

There should not be any fractured seams: welds must look immaculate and as smooth as possible.

Handle fitted with a soft grip and wide angle for cushioned support The handle grip can be D- or T-shaped.  Look for soft, cushioned grips for added comfort.

For those with particularly large or small hands, which don’t fit easily around a D- grip, choose the T- grip.

Alternatively, look for a wider-shaped D-grip to protect your hands.

The typical lengths of shaft available The length of the shaft usually measures at:

  • A standard length of 700mm (28 inches)
  • A long length of 800mm (32 inches) plus.
  • Or extra-long at 1200mm (48 inches) plus.

For more information on choosing a shaft, please refer to our page: Is the length of the shaft important?

Use an insulated shaft when digging around live cables For working around live cables or power lines, use a fork with an insulated shaft.

Please see our section: What are insulated forks? for further information.