Forklift forks, also known as tines or blades, are used to lift and carry loads. They are an integral part of the forklift and ensuring you are using the correct ones and that they are in good condition is essential to both the safety of personnel, but also the forklift and the load.
This guide provides the user with a comprehensive look at forklift forks, including common terminology, dimensions, types, maintenance and operation.
If you have a question that we have not covered then feel free to post a comment at the end of the guide, or alternatively over on our forklift forum.
| Common Terminology of Forklift Forks
Common terminology used when describing forklift forks.
- Blade. Horizontal part of the fork which lifts and supports the load
- Tip. End of the blade that is inserted to the load
- Shank. The vertical part of the fork
- Heel. Part of the fork where the shank and blade meet
- Hook. The hooks are the elements on the shank that support the forks on the forklift.
- Pin lock (or locking pin, latch pin). Positioned on the top hook and used to position the forks on the forklift carriage. The forklift fork pin can be latch or button (mushroom) type.
- Taper. The difference in thickness between the tip and the heel. Tapers can begin at the heel or anywhere along the blade.
| Forklift Forks Dimensions and Specifications
Dimensions of forklift forks are normally given as width (W) x thickness (T) x Length (L), in combination with the class. For example 120 x 50 x 2400, 3B.
The class is a combination of the class of the truck and the fork drop, see below for full description.
The main dimensions are:
- Carriage plate height (C) = Forks (tines) are mounted on a forklift carriage.
- Fork drop (D) = The fork drop is measure from the top of the lower hook to the floor
- Length of fork (L) – measure from the end of the tip to the shank. Length can be given in mm or inches, common lengths are 48” inch, 72” inch and 96” inch.
- Width (W) = width of the fork at its widest point
- Thickness (T) = thickness of the forks is measure on the shank. To measure if the forks have worn then compare the thickness of the blade to the thickness of the shank.
- Spread – this is the width between the forks from outside edge to outside edge
| Classes of Forklift Forks Forks
There are 5 classes of forks, each further divided into a “A” or “B” version. The 5 classes are determined by the rated capacity of the forklift and can be determined by measuring the carriage plate height. The carriage is typically 400mm, 500mm or 610mm in height. These sizes cover over 90% of forklifts and are also known as class 2, 3 or 4 respectively.
The A or B is determined by the fork drop (D), and is measured from the top of the lower hook to the floor.
The measurements are defined in ISO standard 2328
| Types and Variations of Forklift Forks
Forklift forks are made from very tough steel, usually 4140 or 4340. These types of steel are used due to their toughness and they maintain a high tensile strength during forging.
The most common mounting found for forks on a forklift is the Hook method. The forks slide sideways onto the carriage and are locked in place with a spring-loaded pin.
Fork extensions or sleeves are used when the original forks are too short to reach. The forklift fork extensions are fitted to the original forks.
When the extensions are fitted you will be reducing the load capacity and moving the load centre. The supplier of the extensions will be able to provide you with the calculation to use.
Typically, the fork length must be a minimum of 60% of the length of the fork extension.
On some trucks the extensions may be telescopic and mechanically extend out to reach loads, or position loads, at a greater depth. Above factors regarding fork length apply.
The type of fork tip is determined the requirement to insert into a load.
- Standard tip
- Square tip with reduced thickness, for better insertion into loads
- Square tip for special applications
Version of taper is dependent on types of loads and applications the forklift will be used in.
- Standard taper
- No taper
- Full taper with top bevil
- Two stage taper
Following is a list of some of the special types of forklift forks, used for specific applications.
- Pin Type & Bar Type– the forks have a guide and are attached to a shaft. Found on larger lift trucks and construction machines such as some telehandlers. Pin-Types can come with a lower hook
- Drum handling forks – these forks have a section cut out of the side of the forks to enable a drum to be lifted
- Coil handling forks – the inside edge of the forks are “chamfered” to provide a surface for the coil to sit on.
- Explosion proof – if the forklift is to be used in explosive environments then the forks are clad in stainless steel to prevent sparking. The stainless steel coating is typically 2mm thick
- Forks for food production industry – forklifts that are used in the food industry are typically clad in stainless steel as they are regularly washed down to maintain cleanliness.
- Lumber forks – have a thin and wide blade for ease when inserting into loads
Forklift Fork positioner
Forklift fork positioners are hydraulic systems that are fixed to the truck and used to alter the spread of the forks. They are particularly useful when having to handle several different pallet widths or loads and removes the need to manually adjust the fork positions. They save time and help to prevent damage to the load by ensuring the forks are correctly positioned.
| Fork Spare Parts and Accessories
Forklift fork hook pin kits.
Forklift forks are locked into position on the carriage of the forklift with a pin. The latch-pin is either a “lever” or “mushroom” pin. The pins can become worn or damaged and can be replaced.
Forklift fork heel protectors.
Attached to the heel of the forks to protect from wear and to extend the forks useable life
| Regulations and Guidance
Regulations governing the production, use and inspection/maintenance of forklift forks.
- ISO 2328 – Specifies dimensions, and additional requirements for, fork carriers and hook-on type forks, up to and including a rated capacity of 10999kg
- ISO 2330 – Specifies manufacturing, testing and marking requirements for solid-section forks. Covers all types of mounting, including hook, shaft/pin, bolt-on and roller types.
- ISO 5057 – specifies methods for inspection, repair and testing for forks.
- Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
- ISO 2330 stipulates that the forks are permanently marked for identification. If the markings are no longer visible, then they should be removed from use.
- The forks must be marked on the side with the following information:
- Load capacity
- Load centre
- Manufacturing date, year, month and day
- The forks must be marked on the side with the following information:
| Safe Use of Forks
- Before use make a visual inspection and check for any damage(see guide Forklift Fork Inspection and Maintenance for more detailed guide),
- Make sure the forks are in the correct position and secured with the locking pins
- Inspect for wear at the heel of the fork. If the original thickness has worn off by 10% or more then do not use the forks. They need to be replaced. At 10% of wear the load capacity is reduced by 20% (use a measuring gauge)
- Make sure the load is suitable for the capacity of the truck and the forks being used.
- When lifting a load use both forks evenly.
- Having the load too far forward will risk tipping the truck
- Forks are designed for a lifting a vertical load,
- do not use for sideway force
- do not use for “catching” a load
- Not to be used for the transport of people
- Only used trained personnel to repair, straighten or make modifications to forks.
- Welding and drilling holes in forks will weaken them
Repairs to forklift forks should be only be carried out by fully qualified personnel and in accordance with the appropriate standards and manufacturers guidelines. It is important for the repairer to fully understand the type of material and methods to manufacture the fork and the application it will be used in. Drilling or welding forks will weaken them.