When my neighbor saw how many woodchips we were spreading, she very kkindly lent us a manure fork. It is an incredible tool- 6 good sharp tines on a light wooden handle that slide into piles of chips, leaves, etc like butter. It also has no brand or makers mark of any kind. She thinks she got it at the local feedstore, which now had only the regular dull tines forks.
So, does anyone know who sells good sharp for a reasonable price?
Antique shops may be my best bet. Thanks!
While I have always thought that blacksmithing looked like fun, I am under no illusions about the skill required to make thin tines! I definitely enjoy diying, but some things I will leave to the specialisys, I think.
we use a seriously crazy amount of mulch here to protect plants or trees against the harsh Texas summer. To give you an idea, we have a 16ft dump trailer with 4 ft raised sides and I used to get 4-6 full loads a week of mulch from our local landfill for preparing new areas and replenishing the mulch on the more than 250 fruit trees we have. We use a bedding fork to move all that mulch around and is by far the most useful tool we ever found. I consider the tines sharp and it easily penetrate mulch with no effort. I have seen some with a wider gap between tines and also with less tines, but with this one, you keep all the mulch on the fork as they are narrow enough but not too narrow to not penetrate easily. This is a link to the one we've been buying for quite a long time:
During my brush clearing job i used a 3 pronged hay fork to scrape/sweep/"scythe" twigs branches and week rooted plants that were growing under the cover of the old white oak trees and such. I was plesently suprised how much better it worked compared to using a rake. It was also fantastic for stabbing into the tangled balls of weeds sticks and leaves that had formed so that i could throw them into the wheelbarrow i was using. It wasest very good for the smaller stuff so the other guy i was with got the stuff i left behind with my help using a rake looking thing with longer prongs that we sometimes used in my vet sci class... i never learned the name
I'm the guy who says "please look up allan savory, early retirement extreme, the wim hof method and permaculture" at any chance I get =P
Thanks! I have seen the ones home depot sells, and they aren’t as sharp as my loaner. Might still be worth a try though.
I do wonder - the fact that you have been buying that one for years makes it sound like the tend to break. How many have you had to buy over the years?
Xisca, they're designed for manure and compost and other non-stoney materials. A few rocks here and there won't really dull them since they're a fairly hard metal. In the worm department, I'm guessing you'll stab one worm out of every 100 that are in that forkload. A duller fork would probably still break/kill the worms. Maybe it would kill more since a sharp one could miss them by a millimeter while a dull one would still hit them?
I have 2 that I use on my property at all time. I leave one with my truck and the dump trailer and one that is exclusively kept on the property. In the 5 years that we moved here and started using mulch at that level, I only replaced one of them (wood broke from the metal fork). I bought one more as a gift for a horse stable that provides me with unlimited horse manure. They do tend to last a long time for me. My climate is hot and dry, and I don't particularly take good care of those garden tools. They stay outside where I used them last and get our extreme sun and some rain when it happens.
When selecting any of these forks (hay fork, manure fork, bedding fork) ones with forged tines are the most durable.
The bedding fork linked above is an example of welded tines, where the tines are made of wires welded together to make the fork. They will work fine for light work with loose materials (animal bedding in a stall), and the lightness of the tool is good if you are not strong (therefore not prone to overworking it)
However, for heavier work such as: landscape work, loading LOTS of wood chips, etc... the welded tools are prone to breaking.
My forged manure fork is 20 years old, and is due for a new handle any day now, but the tines are in good shape (I have bent them back into alignment many times over the years) and I expect it will outlast me (with a new handle of course).
The tines began life mostly pointy, and over the years have gotten sharper. This is due to picking up piles of stuff off of pavement and the ground, slowly grinding them sharper.
If you wanted to get a head start, you could file or grind each point sharp. (I have done the opposite a few times, to blunt them a bit for safety...)
I recently bought a new fork with forged tines (anticipating my handle replacement not happening promptly)Union Tools Razor-Back Manure Fork.
In the close-up photo, you can see the "burrs" at the ends of the tines... these can be filed or ground off to make the tips smooth or "sharper" and it will work better on day one.
Finally, a word about handles. Take the time to look over the tools on the rack at the store, and select the best one they've got. (you have NO obligation to take the one in the front...)
Look for long, straight grain, and a straight handle. Pass over any that have shorter grain that goes at an angle, these will splinter and also crack in two more easily.
Generally speaking, the higher quality, pro-grade tools, get the top-grade handles (usually hickory or ash); and the cheap homeowner tools get the low-grade handles (sometimes mystery wood from China).
Here is a picture of the tines on my neighbors fork. The tines are sharper than those at any store nearby, but also just more smoothly shaped. I suspect the smoothness lets it slide more easily into a pile of wood ships, with less force required. But I will try a duller one and see if the difference is noticeable.
I wouldn’t use this fork where it was likely to hit a lot if rocks - it’s for lifting loose material, not digging. As for worms- I wouldn’t want to meet this fork in a dark alley, but I don’t think the tines are sharp enough to spear a worm!