Hay Forks vs. Pitch Forks

When you see movies and such where a bunch of angry farmers are marshaled to fight someone or something, they should come armed with HAY FORKS, and for good reason. They would certainly make devastating improvised weapons.

Check out the point on a my SHW Hay Fork.


Those points are needle sharp, and the weight of the fork (around 2.5 pounds) would make this devastating if it were to be put into any soft tissues of the body, or between ribs. Of course, it is a tool of peace. It is for collecting and moving hay. And it does this job much better than other forks. It is lightweight (since the handle is Ash, not Hickory or Oak) and there is a bend and taper to the handle that makes it very good for moving hay.


The spread to the three tines (hay forks usually have 3 or 2 tines) makes it “bite” and hold a wad of tangled up hay. It’s pretty remarkable how large of a bunch of hay such a fork can hold.


And the curve of the tines makes it “skid” across the ground when collecting hay. When held at the right angle the points do not catch on the ground or grass, but they do penetrate into a windrow of hay.

Compare this to a PITCH FORK, which despite superficial similarities, is a completely different tool used for a completely different thing, and would make a clumsy and ineffective weapon, something that Hollywood prop guys don’t seem to grasp.


Pitch fork to the left. Hay fork to the right. 

Notice how much straighter, thicker, and longer the handle is on a Pitch fork. It is also made of Hickory or Oak, making the whole tool weigh close to twice as much as a Hay fork. It has a ferruled connection to the forged tines, too, which makes it much stronger, better at prying, and a heavier. The long handle affords greater leverage.


The parallel tines of the a Pitch fork make it terrible at “holding” wads of hay, which is stabbed like spaghetti. It is however much better at “holding” wads and clumps of manure and straw, which is held like you would with a spoon.


Also notice how blunt the ends of the tines are compared to a hay fork. Pitch forks are not for stabbing things; they are for prying apart layers of compost or manure pack.

Having the right tool for the job is of supreme importance, particularly when an external source of power is not employed. I duffed for years with that Pitchfork moving hay, and always thought it miserably slow and the weak point in my haying process (accumulation and movement of the loose hay), but now I feel differently. Two adults (and women are just as good at this as men, it requires little strength) with two good Hay forks can move a lot of hay quickly and smartly.

Just look at this pile. It’s as American as apple pie.


My wife made the stack; she is much better at it than I am. And you’re looking at a lot of hay right there. That little brown hay fork is very old and is why I learned of the difference. It needs a handle badly, but should be good for another hundred years.

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