Shopping for a Forklift

Thoughts and experiences concerning shop forklifts. January 9, 2006

How many of you one man shops own a forklift? What kind? I'm tired of wasting time unloading by hand. I read somewhere that a forklift is one of those things you pay for whether you own one or not. Should I be able to find a decent used one for under $3500?

Forum Respones
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
I got one last August. Your thoughts went through my mind as well. On top of that, I got spoiled from the last shop I worked at. Mine is a Caterpillar 36v electric model, 5000lb lifting ability, with side shift. It probably has a few more options and is bigger than what's needed, and but the price was right. With a 220v 3ph charger and delivered was 3800.

I've unloaded my share of supplies by hand. But what is really nice is being able to stack lumber with the ease of uncovering the bottom stack to get to one small board that's buried. Also, if I need to move some of my larger equipment around for repair or to rearrange the shop, I don't need to take my neighbor out for lunch so I can borrow his! It also makes it easy to change the oil in my truck! If you deal with cold and snowy weather, you don't need to have the doors open as long, either.

I chose an electric so I didn't have a carburetor and the cost of propane to deal with. I'm sure there are some drawback to the electrics. I know I' not looking forward to replacing that battery anytime soon. Bottom line - it will save a one/two man shop time in the long run!

From contributor C:
I am with the above. We had a 2500# gas for a few years. I bought it at a state auction for $1700. Really stinks inside the building. Spent the $1700 again in repairs. We got a CNC and had to have something larger to unload the machine. I got a 48v electric like yours, I am sure. Only $4500. I couldn't believe how cheap! Only 5 years old. $30k new. We love our electric. After 5 years of use, we finally had to replace the battery. $1000 for used from the guy the lift came from. Other than that, I haven't spent a nickel on it.

From contributor R:

We got our Yale electric forklift off of E-Bay at a good deal. The seller even threw in a new charger as well. I certainly agree with using an electric type in an enclosed environment. Make sure whatever type you get suits your needs and lifting height requirements. OHSA is also easier on you with an electric lift. Don't forget to have everyone driving it properly certified on that particular lift and keep good daily inspection records for when you get a visit from OHSA. Make sure, if you get an older model, to equip it with both a seatbelt and fire extinguisher (required regardless of age).

From contributor B:
You guys got me thinking about forklifts. I have been running the idea of buying a vacuum lift since I work alone and am getting tired of humping those heavy sheets. Buying a used electric fork to unload the truck, move material and machinery around the shop, pull material down from the rack and lift stock to slider saw height would certainly give me the biggest bang for the buck, plus save me a bundle. Thanks!

From contributor B:
Addendum to my previous post:
Well, I bought a used Mitsubishi electric and I'm loving it, baby! Enormous time saver. Thanks for getting me thinking and improving.