Using a Skid-Steer as a Forklift

Considering whether a skid-steer could load and unload cabinetmaking materials in addition to doing other useful work. December 27, 2010

I just had a guy do some work on my driveway going to the shop with his Bobcat. My drive is fairly steep that is why I have not paved it, because with a little snow it would be pretty slick. Anyway he took his Bobcat and graded it so I can get some gravel and he was telling me that his Bobcat could unload a bundle of my plywood which is 50 sheets at 1/2 thick.

I am considering getting one of these since I could use it as forklift to unload trucks and use it for other things also like the driveway. There are all kind of other attachments also you can get. I was just wondering what you guys thought about it or if any of you use one and maybe could shed some light on what size is needed. I know John Deere makes one that you can put extra weights on so that it can lift more but I don't know that I would need that. Does anyone have any thoughts?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor S:
I have both a John Deere tractor and forklifts. They are two completely different animals. Most tractors do not have the stability or the lifting capacity of a forklift. I have used the tractor to unload things like a shaper out of my van, but it is not something to do every day, and it's risky. Most forklifts have a minimum lift capacity of 2000 lbs. That's a lot for a small tractor. If you are going to regularly be lifting 2000 lbs, buy a 5000 lb forklift. A used forklift can be had for $1500. You won't get a tractor for that.

From the original questioner:
Let me clarify, when I said Bobcat I meant a skid steer type loader made by bobcat. I'm not interested in a tractor.

From contributor M:
I have a neighbor who owns a skid steer loader which I can use at any time (since I don't have anything of my own to unload). It is a newer John Deere and it is very stable (long wheel base) where I can unload anything I need to. I have been running skid steers for some 30 years and I know how to run one. If you are new to this, it might be a challenge. The downside of using a skid steer is the capacity and they can get top heavy (be very careful with this one). This skid steer has a capacity of 3200 lbs. I have had loads of more than that so we had to pull off part of the load onto the skid steer, unload that and go back for the rest. Still beats unloading by hand!

From contributor O:
We use a Gehl skid steer as a forklift. Since we only get lumber once a week it works fine and can be used for other things like plowing snow and landscaping. Ours only has a lift capacity of 2600lbs. That is not enough to lift units of most hardwoods so we get our supplier to split units when they load. You can add weight to the back to increase capacity. There is a small learning curve to running these and you need to use caution. Too much weight and they tip on their nose. Loading on uneven ground can be tricky because the forks do not angle side to side.