Fred-in-the-shed's Guide to Garden Forks and Spades

Updated 29th June 2022

(Click on the Stars & Stripes for Forks & Spades available in the USA)


A collection of tools in use and my trusty old S&J Neverbend spade

In the UK many of us grew up using old blackened forks and spades owned by our parents.

These British made tools last forever and I still come across 100 years old examples still in use.

Most garden forks and spades sold today are of an inferior quality and design and made in the Far East.

They are made to cater for gardeners who don't want to spend much on tools.

Some are made to look like quality tools, and use posh sounding names to fool the public into thinking they are getting the best.

On This Page

Strongest Professional Quality Fork & Spades

Stainless Steel Forks & Spades

Best Value Solid Forged Forks & Spades

Lightweight Forks & Spades

Long Handled Irish Spades and West Country Shovels

Shorter Tools and Children's Digging Tools

Fixing Broken Forks & Spades - Spare Handles

For My Other Digging Tool Page Use Link Below

Specialist Digging and Cultivating Tools


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Whatever the label says - No one really makes forks and spades in the UK anymore.

Luckily you can still buy top quality, solid forged forks and spades made using the original British forges and under the supervision of British experts.

 Spear & Jackson Neverbend Professional Treaded Digging Spade 1071AL

 You can also buy superb Dutch style tools if you don't mind spending around 80.

See the Sneeboer Stainless Steel Transplanting Spade

This page is my attempt to help you find the best tools and avoid the shiny fakes

Another piece of landfill from a "leading" manufacturer and sold by a "leading retailer"


If you try to buy a fork or spade you will find that they range enormously in price, for no apparent reason. Why does that shiny stainless steel spade cost less than that dull and boring painted one?

It could be because one is a poor quality duffer. But which one? I will lead you through the marketing hype to the truth about buying tools.







This is me being shown the Wigan forge by one of its owners.

The stages of a Bulldog Spade being forged from one piece of solid metal.

In 2009 I visited the forge in Wigan to see how the best forks and spades are made. It was the only factory left like this in Britain and was over 200 years old when the forge part shut and moved to India in 2014.

This hot solid forging technique makes the tool as strong as possible, and as importantly as light as possible. This is because the tool head is one piece of metal with the same crystalline structure. When metal is welded this changes and can introduce weakness in certain points.

Most forks and spades you find in shops and catalogues are NOT hot solid forged, they are pressed and/or welded. This is to cut costs, but creates inferior tools.

Luckily Bulldog and Spear & Jackson still make some solid forged digging tools after moving their forges to India.

Not all of their tools are this quality so if you want the best please read this page and use my links.





Fred's current recommendation for the best fork and spade

These Neverbend tools are solid forged and the spade has the flat treads that you wont find on cheaper spades.

They have a carefully selected ash shaft with a wood and metal, double riveted, YD handle.

The Kew range are the same tools but with old fashioned, arguably nicer, all wooden handles.

Both ranges are way stronger than any Stainless Steel tool.

You can find prettier and cheaper forks and spades but they wont be as good.

You get a genuine 10 year guarantee from a company over 200 years old.

Do keep your receipt and remember not to use forks for levering up rocks and roots as this is not covered.

Any tool, and particularly forks because of the thin tines can be bent by a strong man with a small brain.

I rate these tools as the optimum for price/quality.

Please read on - and if you decide you like my information please come back here and use my links if you buy some tools.

If there is a supply issue with the Neverbend Pro forks the equally good Kew Fork is a good alternative and usually cheaper.

Spear & Jackson Kew Gardens  Carbon Steel Digging Fork


Use the links below to buy proper full size - solid forged British style tools


Neverbend for metal handles          Kew for more traditional wood

 Spear & Jackson Neverbend Professional Digging Fork 1570AL

Spear & Jackson Neverbend Professional Treaded Digging Spade 1071AL


Links below for full size Kew gardens inspired digging tools

 Spear & Jackson Kew Gardens Solid Forged Treaded Digging Spade

 Spear & Jackson Kew Gardens Solid Forgel Digging Fork


Links to S&J Border size tools below

These are smaller and lighter and more suitable for smaller modern gardens

Spear & Jackson Neverbend Carbon Border Fork

Spear & Jackson Neverbend Carbon Steel Border Spade

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Stainless Steel Forks and Spades -Claims By Various Manufacturers

Stainless steel tools look nice and do slide into the ground easier. However the metallurgic properties of stainless steel is weaker than solid forged carbon steel.

NO company makes solid forged stainless steel forks and spades

Hence, most of the stainless tools are inherently weaker than solid forged carbon steel,  especially forks, (even though they may cost more)

Sneeboer of Holland made hand forged stainless steel forks and spades but these are not solid forged, which would be even better.

Made in the UK?

No-one really makes solid forged forks and spades in the UK. In either carbon or stainless.

If you see any spade or fork labelled "made in the UK" - be aware this does not apply to the metal parts!

By law, fitting handles and painting the steel now qualifies as made in Britain - sad but true.


A so called "top quality" Stainless Steel Spade sold by a Top Brand Company.

This product has failed because it is made of 2 pieces welded together (badly).

It came with a 10 year guarantee and was a replacement for the previous one that broke. Your time and petrol is not covered by the guarantee.

The environmental cost of manufacturing product for landfill is not covered by the guarantee.

The retailer will not be interested in dealing with your warranty claim and will refer you to the manufacturer to whom you will need to send the broken tool.



Stainless Steel Forks and Spades

(not solid forged)

Stainless steel digging tools look better and are easier to clean and also slide into the ground better than painted or rust covered tools.

However, they are NOT as strong as the boring looking, solid forged tools so take care to only use them in good soil for gardening - not building work.

I have used a set of these Spear and Jackson Neverbend stainless tools for many years and they are about as good as you can get.


My 12 year old S&J Neverbend stainless fork and spade.

They have lasted well but as they are stainless I have made sure they are only used in good soil.

Spear and Jackson make a nice version now with traditional wooden handles.

Spear & Jackson Traditional Stainless Steel Digging Fork

 Spear & Jackson Traditional Stainless Steel Digging Fork and Digging Spade Set


Another good make for stainless digging tools is Burgeon and Ball.

Burgeon & Ball Stainless Steel Digging Spade

If your soil is stony or poor - don't buy stainless steel digging tools.

Get yourself a Mattock and use that first.



Spear & Jackson Neverbend Stainless Steel Border Fork

Spear & Jackson Neverbend Stainless Steel Border Spade




Craftsman made Dutch Stainless Steel Digging Tools

The Sneeboer family have been making garden tools for generations. Their tools are made from the finest steel and hardwood by a family of craftsmen with tool making in their blood.

Jaap Sneeboer is currently the boss and I have known him for many years now.

When you pick up a Sneeboer tool you feel the craftsmanship and take pride in the work you do with it.

The metal parts are hand forged and then welded together, which is different from solid forging but still makes a very strong tool.  I particularly love their spades.

A large range of Sneeboer tools are now available in the UK and there is a tool for every job. Jaap Sneeboer even made one for me some years back!

These tools are not cheap, but neither is a Rolls Royce.

The spade shown above is a rather chunky tool but Sneeboer also have smaller and lightweight ladies forks, spades and hoes.

As the forks are welded stainless steel and not solid forged do not buy them if you have hard or stony soil.

I think that for really tough conditions a solid forged carbon steel fork should be better.

See the Sneeboer Stainless Steel Transplanting Spade

see the Sneeboer ladies spade



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Solid Forged and British -  There was nothing better.

Sadly "British made" now means putting the handles on.

Which Garden Tool Companies are REALLY BRITISH ?

Wilkinson Sword -  American owned - forks and spades made in far east.

Spear & Jackson  - American owned -  tools made in India but using the old British forge equipment relocated from Walsall.

Bulldog - 100% British owned - some tools made/assembled in Wigan, most in India (including all stainless steel)

Wigan Forge closed in 2013 and forged parts are now shipped in for assembly in the old Wigan factory.



Click here for my special page on Bulldog Garden Tools



Best value Solid Forged Forks and Spades

Bulldog Evergreen Forks and Spades

One range down from the Premier tools these Epoxy coated carbon steel tools have  hardwood shafts but plastic soft touch ergo handles. The metal parts are forged from one piece for strength and lightness.

Solid forged forks always cost more than spades as there is a lot more skilled work involved in making them.

The Bulldog Evergreen Range are the best value of the top quality solid forged tools

Evergreen Range - Same solid forged heads as the premier range, more modern handles, lower price.

As used by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Please come back and use my links if you are purchasing garden tools and help me find the best tools for gardeners across the globe!


Bulldog 7104 Evergreen Border Fork

Bulldog 7103 Evergreen Digging Fork

Bulldog 7102 Evergreen Border Spade

Bulldog 7101 Evergreen Digging Spade


Would You like toSupport Fredshed?

If you found this page useful and decide to buy a fork or spade please use my links when you do as this helps keep my site going, thanks, Fred


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Lightweight Forks and Spades - Not Solid Forged - But Strong Enough

Fiskars Xact Range Including Extra Long Forks and Spades

Fiskars have made tools like this for many years and have now improved the design further and offer versions with longer handles.

 The oval section aluminium shaft makes this possible without introducing a weakness and they back this up with a 10 year warranty.

 Other nice features are treads on the spade , a curve at the bottom of the shaft and a big comfy grip handle.

There are 2 types of spade, one has a pointed blade for tougher soil and both come in 2 lengths

The pointy edge spade is called the "digging Spade" and is the one I would choose.

The fork is available in 2 lengths 1.08 and 1.2m.

The longer tools are  1.2m so  ideal for the taller gardener.

The tallest tool is an excellent wide headed shovel for moving heaps of soil, sand or gravel.

Fiskars has been making tools in Finland since 1649 and from my experience offer the best genuine warranties


108cm total lenght

Fiskars Medium Xact Digging Spade

Fiskars Medium Xact Edging and Planting Spade

Fiskars Medium Xact Soil Work Fork


120cm total


Fiskars Large Xact Digging Spade

Fiskars Large Xact Edging and Planting Spade

Fiskars Large Xact Soil Work Fork



 Fiskars Large Xact Soil Moving Shovel





These tools are smaller than the Exact range but a similar design so are even lighter!

I have also found a similar spade from Wilkinson sword that has a stainless steel blade with a serrated cutting edge.

This model is 101cm total length and a real joy to use.

Do remember that these lightweight tools are fine for light use but I don't advise using them for digging out large shrubs and other heavy work.

Similar Spade with Stainless Steel blade



Lightweight, Forks and Spades -Traditional Style and Very Strong

Bulldog Premier Fork and Spade

The classic British gardening tool

Bulldog Premier Border Fork

Bulldog 5609 Premier Wood Border Spade


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Irish Spades and Irish Shovels


Spear & Jackson Neverbend Professional Irish Spade

These Indian made solid forged tools are the old design made using the old British machinery

They are good value and very strong.


Irish Spades and Irish Shovels in a range of handle shapes and sizes

For the above tools and any other specialist digging tool use the link below for my other page

Mattocks, Pick axes and Alternative Digging Tools

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Children's Garden Forks and Spades -Non solid forged

Draper Young Gardener Tools

Draper Young Gardener Digging Spade

Draper Young Gardener Digging Fork

These scaled down traditional looking tools are great for the younger gardener and are good value too.

Bulldog Tools make solid forged children's tools but they are rather expensive, heavy and a bit over-engineered considering there should not be that much force put on them.

Also as your children grow quickly they will soon need longer tools if they get the gardening bug like I did!

Spear and Jackson make some nice Stainless Steel children's tools that are reasonably priced.

Spear & Jackson Traditional Children's Fork

Spear & Jackson Traditional Stainless Steel Children's Spade


Solid Forged Children's Digging Tools

Real Garden Tools For Children

4 Children's garden tools

Most garden tools sold for Children are a bit flimsy and do not last very long. Bulldog make child size mini versions of their solid forged fork and spades.

These tools are so well made that your children could pass them onto your grandchildren.


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If you found my advice helpful and would like to support my work, please return to this page and use my links when purchasing your tools.

Also any other products bought from Amazon at the same time will produce a small commission that helps cover my hosting costs.

Or if you prefer you can make a small donation using the PayPal button below thanks, Fred




Sadly we now live in the throw away society so spare parts like handles are not available for most of the garden forks and spades that are sold in garden centres and DIY superstores.

Most of these tools are made in China or India now and just labelled and branded for UK sales.

If you have an old tool that was made in the UK and the handle has snapped then the best advice I can give you is to either try to make the spare ones on the links below fit or find a local woodworker or blacksmith type person to see if they can help. If you have a cracked shaft you may be able to repair it with FiberFix Repair Wrap tape.

Fibrefix is a new product that is designed to permanently seal holes and cracks in a range of materials.

It is widely used by boat and kayak owners in case of emergencies but I have seen it used to fix broken tool handles and legs of tables and chairs.



(that's fork handles - not four candles! )

Faithfull Ash Yd Handle Straight Taper 28IN

Replacment D shaped handle for shovels, spades or forks

5 x Rivets for shovel spade fork handle repair 50 x 6mm rake hoe garden lawnmower

Apart from  these links  I do not supply or know anyone who supplies wooden handles for garden forks and spades.

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If you found my advice helpful and would like to support my work, please return to this page and use my links when purchasing your tools.

Also any other products bought from Amazon at the same time will produce a small commission that helps cover my hosting costs.


Or - if you prefer you can make a small donation using the PayPal button below thanks, Fred



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     Fred Walden 2022