What type of forks do I need?

What type of forks do I need? Often overlooked, the type of fork design is critical to safety and productivity. If you’re looking to replace the forks you have either due to wear, or the type of load you need to move has changed, it is important you buy the right forks to cope with the load.  Here is a quick guide to help you select the correct forks for your forklift.

Style of forks

The most commonly used fork style is the ITA/FEM which is widely supplied to the majority of industrial forklift manufacturers. They are differentiated into five classes the most common being Classes 2-4 and have various undercarriage clearances.

Forklift trucks that are capable to lift up to 2500kg will typically have Class 2 forks, 5000kg lift capacity would be Class 3 forks and up to 8000kg lift capacity would be class 4 forks. Upwards from 8000kg, most forklifts employ a shaft & pin mount – i.e. forks mounted on a pole on the carriage.

What type of forks do I need

Size of the Forks

Having established what style of fork you need you can now decide what size of fork you require. This can largely be dictated by the industry in which you work. Heavier gauge forks will always be more durable so perform better in harsh environments with thinner and lighter forks performing better for lighter loads and confined spaces.


What is the taper of a fork? The taper on a fork is the difference in thickness from the tip of the fork and the gradient that it follows as it goes back towards the shank.

Standard taper – Taper begins 400mm-600mm from the tip of the fork and will have a 3/8″ tip and no beveling.

Full Taper – Starts the heel of the fork and goes to the tip.  Similar to the standard fork, the tip is 3/8″ and ideal for getting under cardboard boxes and plywood etc.

Full Taper & Polished – a polished version of Full Taper

Fully Tapered w/ bottom bevel – Similar to the standard Full Taper fork, but has a bottom level bevel – sometimes called a Chisel Tip

Fully Tapered w/ top bevel– Same as Fullky Tapered but with the bevel on top.

Tip Styles

Style 1 – The most commonly used tip. The front of the fork is rounded and flat.

Style 2 – Has a more pointed end.

Style 3 – Has a flat tip which goes across nearly the entire width of the tip but with rounded off edges. Standard on forks with over 7″ width.

Speciality Forks

Block Handling Forks – Predominantly used for lifting high volumes of concrete blocks in large numbers. Due to these forks being very thin, they’re are used in high quantity’s (Usually over 8!) in order to spread the load and reduce the risk of skidding and losing structural integrity.

Bolt-on forks – These forks are quite rare because they fix into position which means they cannot move.

Coil Handling – These forks are chamfered on the edges to enable them to move coils of steel, reels, concrete pipes etc. When straddling the load is required.

Tyre Handling – These are made similarly to the coil handling forks, these have an inner chamfer to handle the tyres without damaging them.

Corrugated Handling – These forks are typically used for loads that aren’t on skids/blocks/pallets so they’re really thin to be able to fit between the load and the ground or split loads. Are popular for lifting corrugated metal.

Drum Handling –  The clue is in the name on this one… These forks have small radius’s cut out of the centre edges and are designed to lift 55 gallon drums.

Offset – Primarily used for the forks to reach beyond the standard width of the forklift’s current carriage width.

BS EN ISO 3691-1:2015: Industrial trucks – Safety requirements and verification – Self-propelled industrial trucks, other than driverless trucks, variable-reach trucks and burden-carrier trucks.BS EN ISO 9712:2012: Non-destructive testing. Qualification and certification of NDT personnel
BS ISO 2328:2011: Fork Lift Trucks – Hook on Type Fork Arms and Fork Arm Carriages – Mounting Dimensions
BS ISO 2330:2002: Fork-Lift Trucks – Fork Arms – Technical Characteristics and Testing
BS ISO 5057:1993: Industrial Trucks – Inspection and Repair of Fork Arms in Service on Fork Lift Trucks