Forklift fork dimensions are determined by the width, thickness, and length of the stainless steel forks. The dimensions are important because they affect the load capacity, or the amount forklift can hold.
In this article, we go over how to measure fork dimensions, as well as the different types of forks and how and when they’re used.
Table of Contents
- How Are Forks Measured?
- Forklift Fork Dimension Examples
- What Size Forks Do You Need?
- The Parts of a Fork
- Types of Forks
- Forklift Safety Tips
How Are Forks Measured?
Forklift forks, also called blades or tynes, are measured by the width, length, and thickness of the fork. To get precise measurements, you may want to use a tool like a fork caliper. Here’s how to measure each of these three key dimensions:
- Fork width: Measure the fork from side to side.
- Fork length: Measure the fork from the front of the fork to the end of the tip.
- Fork thickness: Measure the fork from the shank back to the shank face. It’s important to use the back side of the fork, rather than the bottom because the bottom of the fork wears down from its original thickness with use.
Generally, the greater the fork’s width and length, the greater the fork’s lifting capacity. Sometimes, the thickness of the fork can be the same across forks with different capacities.
Keep in mind that the various parts of a forklift truck—including the forks, mast, forklift carrier or carriage, and attachments—have their own capacities. These parts all contribute to the overall load and lifting capacities of the machine. Understanding the individual capacities of the parts helps you know the capabilities and limitations of your forklift.
For example, your forks may have a higher capacity than your truck. If that’s the case, go by the truck capacity rather than the fork capacity. Your forklift operator should also consider the load center of the vehicle because that impacts its capacity allocation.
Forklift Fork Dimension Examples
The dimensions of a forklift fork can vary dramatically, both between and within the different carriage classes. Here are example measurements for the thickness, width, and length you might find in each class.
This list is not exhaustive. There are many different dimensions and weight capacities within each class. Keep in mind that the fork capacity may exceed the carrying capacity.
*Fork capacity exceeds carriage capacity
The forks connect to the carriage. The carriage height determines the class of your forks. Each carriage type has a certain load capacity.
To find your forklift’s carriage class, measure the distance between the top and bottom carriage bars, and compare the measurement to the chart below. ITA hook-type forks are the industry standard, and ITA Class 2, 3, and 4 are the most common carriage classes.
- Class II
- Height: 16”
- Carriage Capacity: 2,200 to 5,500 lbs
- Class III
- Height: 20”
- Carriage Capacity: 5,500 to 10,998 lbs
- Class IV
- Height: 25”
- Carriage Capacity: 11,000 to 17,600 lbs
For further confirmation, the nameplate on your forklift will state the machine’s capacity.
What Size Forks Do You Need?
The lift capacity of your forklift determines what size forks you need and which forks are interchangeable. In addition to weight, you’ll also want to consider the other dimensions of the loads you’ll be lifting, like the length and width, so that you can choose the right length and extensibility in your forks. Specifically, you should choose forks that are at least ⅔ the length of the longest load.
Depending on your machine, you can also use fork extensions to increase your forklift’s capacity and accommodate larger and longer loads.
The Parts of a Fork
Many parts make up a forklift fork, including the locking pin, shank, hooks, heel, blade, taper, and tip. Here are some of the main parts of a fork and what they do:
- Locking pins secure the forks to the carriage. They typically connect at the top of the shank on the hook.
- The shank is the vertical portion of the fork where the supporting hooks are fixed.
- Fork hooks attach to the shank to support the fork and keep it stable on the carriage. They can be detachable hooks or integral hooks that are built into the shank.
- The heel is the rounded part of the fork that connects the blade to the shank.
- The fork blade is the horizontal part of the fork where you place the load, skid, or pallet.
Types of Forks
There are many different forklift forks to choose from, serving a variety of material handling needs. Some are specialty forks designed for lifting certain materials, like block forks for lifting concrete blocks or tire forks for handling tires.
Here are some common types of forks and what they’re used for:
- Anti-slip forks have extra superficial layers, like magnets or an abrasive coating, to prevent loads from slipping or falling off the forklift.
- Block forks are designed specifically for transporting masonry supplies, like blocks or bricks.
- Bolt-on forks are attached to the carriage with bolts rather than hooks, making them more secure and stable while the lift truck is in use.
- Corrugated forks, also called box tip forks, are especially thin. They’re used to get under and lift thin materials, like corrugated sheets and cardboard boxes.
- Coil forks, also called coil handling forks, are equipped with metal coil springs to provide resistance, helping loads remain stable when the forklift is working on an incline or uneven surfaces.
- Drum forks, also called drum handling forks, are built with an inclined design and a contoured cutout, limiting jostling and keeping loads more stable. They’re used to lift items like barrels.
- Folding forks are adjustable and have retractable blades, making it easier for the lift truck to navigate tight or enclosed spaces.
- Gypsum forks are designed with a double-sided bevel at the blade tip to safely handle sheets of drywall and other similar products.
- Offset and inset forks are another adjustable fork type. Offset forks are designed to go wider than the fork carriage, while inset forks are designed to go narrower than the carriage.
- Peek-a-boo forks have a wide, thin blade, increasing visibility for the forklift operator. They’re a type of lumber fork.
- Quick-detach forks are designed to quickly detach from the forklift carriage for easy adjustment.
- Tire forks, similar in design to coil forks, are made with contour cutouts that make them equipped to handle tires.
- Tow hitch forks are equipped with load-bearing tops and bottom mounting hooks that make them useful for pulling and pushing loads.
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Types of Fork Tips
Depending on the type of load you need to lift, there are various fork tip options for you to choose from. Different styles have different capacities and work better for certain types of loads.
Forklift fork tip styles:
- No. 1: This is the standard style on forks up to seven inches wide. The front of the fork is flat with a slightly round edge.
- No. 2: This style is the standard for block-handling forks. It’s a sharper fork without the flat front area.
- No. 3: This style is standard on forks seven inches and wider. It’s almost completely flat across the width of the tip.
Forklift taper styles:
- Standard taper
- Full taper
- Full top taper & polish
- Full bottom taper & polish
- Two-stage taper & polish
Forklift Safety Tips
When operating a forklift or any type of heavy-duty machinery, it’s important to take safety precautions to prevent injury or even death. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Perform a fork inspection prior to use. Make sure that the forks, and the machine as a whole, are in good repair and securely attached before you use the forklift.
- Do not use forks that are damaged. Whether they’re worn, bent, cracked, not secured, or not level with the other fork, damaged forks can cause your forklift to malfunction.
- Do not operate the forklift if the positioning lock doesn’t work or was removed. The positioning lock is what holds the forks in place while the machine is in use. Trying to operate the machine without a fork positioning mechanism may cause the forks to slip out of place or drop your load.
Forklift fork dimensions may seem like a small detail, but they have a real impact on how well your equipment works. Knowing your dimensions can help you find the machinery you need to get the job done.
If you’re ready to get started on your next project, you’ve come to the right place. With a wide variety of forklifts to rent, BigRentz has all your equipment needs covered.