How can I repair my bent garden fork?

I bent the prongs on my garden fork the other day. Not just a little bit, so the prong line was a little wobbly, but really quite substantially – one prong was about 60° back, the next one about 30°. Oh the fun of having a stone-filled garden.

We tried to realign it with an artful combination of banging it against a rock and jumping on it, and that straightened it up quite a bit – until I started using it again and the super bent prong instantly bent again — not quite as bad as the first time but still difficult to use as anything other than a pseudo-rotivator. I clearly don’t know my own strength, have a lousy forking technique – or just a lousy fork. I suspect the latter is a big part of the problem – someone bought it for me and while it’s not from Poundland, I doubt it’s the best quality fork available.

Is there any way to fix it so it won’t keep bending? Or now it’s been bent once, has it been weakened so it’ll keep doing it again?

If I have to buy a replacement, I want one that will last – any brand recommendations or things to look for? Or am I to blame – should forks only be used for light work and not digging up giant-squid-esque roots (as I was doing when the prongs went bendy)?

(Photo by MarkusHagenlocher c/o or Wikipedia)

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9 Responses to “How can I repair my bent garden fork?”

  1. Clare says:

    Do you have a blacksmith in the village? He might be able to help you out.

  2. Bobbie says:

    I was thinking the same thing, a blacksmith. Metal can be hardened by heat treating but it is not just a simple matter of throwing it on a bonfire as there is a special hardening process of heating then cooling. An amazing process to me at any rate!

  3. Thornton Kay says:

    If you do decide to buy another, get an old reclaimed one from more than 50 years ago. They would have been made of finest Sheffield steel or similar. If the prongs of these bend they could definitely be sorted out by the local blacksmith although you would have to remove the handle to do it I think.

    btw There will be old garden tools at this year’s Salvo Fair ( at Knebworth June 25 – 27.

  4. Alice says:

    This is so annoying – unfortunately it will now be weakened so will keep bending, and if you bend it enough back and forth then the prongs will snap right off. Poor quality ones are particularly rubbish, the cheapest aren’t really suitable for garden work at all. But even good quality ones like Spear and Jackson can bend.

    Good idea to go for a very old heavy one if you can find any – really heavy ones which stick to magnets have a high iron content which is probably good (but do protect them from rusting!).

    Technique is probably the best way to avoid bending forks. Rather than sticking it into the soil all the way up to the shoulder each time and then levering back, try only going 3 inches deep or so each time, then another three inches when the top three inches of soil are already loosened. Much better for your back, too!

    Be careful not to use tools like this for too much levering. If you’re digging deep, use a spade to shovel soil away to one side so you’re not levering the weight of so much soil with the fork – use a spade to move soil, and a fork to break it up.

    If you really need a lever then try making a hole and then putting a spade into it upside down, so the handle is the lever rather than thin fork prongs. Obviously be careful to keep the sharp end of tools away from your face while they’re upside down.

  5. Jane47 says:

    Here in our garden in the mountains of West Virginia, USA, my husband taught me about the two kinds of forks: the hay fork with long, thin tines and the potato fork with very sturdy, broad tines somewhat shorter than the hay fork. The difference between the two is analogous to the difference between the lawn rake and the sturdy garden rake. Except in soil in excellent tilth I find I must use the potato fork to struggle with the deep-rooted perennial weeds. The heavier one is a must with double-digging.
    I hope you find this helpful.

  6. alio says:

    yea blud it will snap off like. get me? yuu need to buy a new one or it’ll just get worse n ting

  7. After straightening and heating the weakened fork would need hammering (to rejoin the microfractures) then would probably be water quenched for hardening. Unfortunately you would probably need a blowtorch to reach sufficient temperature to attempt this yourself and there are safetly considerations which brings you back to the blacksmith solution mentioned earlier.

  8. whobiggs says:

    From my apprentice days I vaguely remember about heating until red hot and leaving to cool naturally to realign the grain structure if I recall correctly. Alternatively buy a Bulldog brand fork with a lifetime guarantee. About £45 but worth it if you only need to buy it once.

  9. David says:

    You can straighten a bent prong by fixing your fork in a portable workbench. Get two mates to sit on the workbench, the heavier the better, to anchor the workbench and prevent it moving. Then take a 3 or 4 metre scaffolding pole, slip it over the bent prong and lever the prong straight. Take it steady and do a little bending at a time. Cold working the metal like this should not do it too much harm. Afterwards follow the advice given by Alice. Dig a little bit at a time.

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