DIY Forklift For The Home Shop


[Robert] does a fair bit of metal casting, and of course that means carrying around hundreds of pounds of sand, scrap, and other materials. He came up with a great solution to the inevitable back pain: a small, workshop-sized forklift able to carry around a half ton pallet.

In the actual build thread for this forklift, [Robert] goes over the design. The lift is designed to fit inside a 30″ x 7′ door frame, but is more than capable of hoisting hundreds of pounds over the operator’s head. It’s driven by two electric wheelchair motors with power provided by two car batteries. There’s also a clever bit of engineering that went into tipping the forks: instead of a hinge on the mast, [Robert] used a linear actuator on the rear wheels to put the forks at an angle.

It’s a great build, and since [Robert] does metal casting, there’s a whole bunch of custom metalwork that really adds to the build. After the break you can see a video of [Robert]’s forklift transferring a pallet weighed down with 5 gallon buckets from one really high shelf to another. The job doesn’t take long and doesn’t require any lifting, so we’ve got to hand it to [Robert] for this build.


21 thoughts on “DIY Forklift For The Home Shop

  1. And it can even put a 4 foot pallet on a 2 foot deep shelf. It must have some Portal technology built into it.

    Very nice construction, although I think it could do with having some locking out-rigger wheels to make it more stable, and perhaps a mesh roof to protect the driver from things dropping off the forks when they are raised up high.

    Great build though. :)

  2. Pretty cool build!

    I couldn’t tell from the video if it has one, but if it doesn’t, you might want to add in a brake or other safety device to prevent the forks from crashing down on loss of power. The last thing you’d want is something valuable falling on someone valuable due to a short or other power problem.

  3. I was pleasantly surprised to see my forklift show up here! Thanks for the comments. To answer some questions: the winch has a brake and the forks lock in place nicely with the power off. I changed the design mid-way to get higher lift capacity. The top of the mast is at 96″ so it won’t go under any door frames. But it works great in the garage!

    1. You already know this, but before you lift anything heavier, make sure to add more counterweight-especially near the bottom for accidental lateral loads. I don’t want to hear about you losing a leg.

  4. As I recall the total cost was about $1200 but I’m sure you could do it cheaper. The most expensive components are the drive motor system and the winch. Both came from eBay. The car batteries are used and were free. I don’t have a materials list but if you review the original build thread its pretty well documented. I am happy to help anyone who wants to build one.

  5. Charlie- it uses both drive motors from a wheelchair as well as the controller. The motors are geared down 3:1. I built this over about 6 months. I have no idea how much time but it’s a lot!

  6. I have only just come across this site and I’m so glad I did if only for this inventive diy build…….
    Wow ….Brilliant. I would just love to build this myself but it is dated at over six years ago now.
    Do any updates/links exist where Robert gives more information.

    1. I agree with Dave – I can’t seem to find any build info on this now in 2021 – links to the alloyavenue site return a 403 error message. If Robert could make these available, even as a paid pdf plan, I believe that many people would be grateful and would begin this project on their own.

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