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What is the shaft made from?

Shop for Garden Forks

Assessing the pros and cons of each shaft material Choosing a fork that will cope with demanding work yet is comfortable to use is a priority. Make no exception when assessing the pros and cons of a particular type of shaft.
The choice of material is wood, fibreglass or steel The shaft will be constructed from one of three materials:

1. Wood

2. Fibreglass

3. Steel

As you choose between materials, bear in mind that the weight of the fork should ultimately be the deciding factor for those with smaller frames.

1. Wooden shafts

The hardwood on this model is Ash Wooden shafts are made from a hardwood such as ash or hickory.

Advantages

  • Lightweight and supple, a wooden shaft will last many years if regularly maintained.
  • It is also easy to replace if it becomes worn or damaged, and can also be sanded and repaired with glue if the damage is minor.
Any missing or loose screws, replace or tighten them up.

Disadvantages

  • Wood is not as weatherproof as fibreglass.  It expands and contracts with the weather and is prone to cracking, splitting and rotting if not properly cared for.
  • The shaft can become loose so keep a check on the screws joining the shaft to the socket.

2. Fibreglass shafts

Fibreglass is strong and weatherproof Fibreglass is a reinforced plastic material composed of glass fibres.

Advantages

  • Fibreglass is the most durable of all types of handle and requires little or no maintenance.
  • Robust and water resistant, it does not shrink or expand with humidity, rust in damp conditions or break as easily as wood.
  • It also acts as an electrical insulator and is useful for digging around cables.
Weighing scales

Disadvantages

  • Fibreglass is heavier than wood, which is ideal if you need the extra power when cutting into roots or hard ground, but where weight is a concern, fibreglass may cause strain.
  • If it does break, a fibreglass shaft is harder to replace than wood and replacement handles are not widely available.
  • Unlike wood, fibreglass does not absorb shock or vibrations.

3. Steel shafts

Steel is the sturdiest of all three material Some forks have shafts composed of rolled (or tubular) steel welded into the steel head.

Advantages

  • Steel is sturdy and strong. It is designed for industrial applications, heavier usage on professional building sites, or where the weight of the fork is not a problem.
  • A fork with a steel shaft is usually less expensive than a shaft made of fibreglass.
Take care around live cables

Disadvantages

  • Steel forks are the heaviest of all forks.
  • Steel conducts electricity and, unless you have an insulated fork, should not be used near live cables nor does it absorb shock like wood.
  • Although a steel fork is designed not to break under rigorous on-site conditions, if it does snap, it is not possible to replace it.