Telehandler & Forklift Bucket Attachments

We all know that the greatest superpower of forklifts and telehandlers is their incredible reach, but did you also know that with the proper bucket attachment, you can use them for much more?

Using your forklift to clear snow from the loading dock or your telehandler to move gravel on a job site makes life easier when your skid steer is unavailable.

But not all bucket attachments are built equally. Some are designed with fork slots, and some are designed to couple directly to the host machine. Likewise, the design of the overall telehandler or forklift bucket will vary depending on what task it was built for.

Let’s have a look at telehandler and forklift buckets. At the end of this article, we will show you how to use skid steer buckets with your telehandler!

Quick Attach Bucket

Telehandler bucket for dirt, mulch, snow, etc..

4.8 / 5

Telehandler Bucket

 Fits all brands and models of Telehandler

Optional high carbon bolt-on cutting edge

Exceeds OSHA requirements

Available in 60”, 72”, 84”, 96” and 102” widths

Made in the USA

Fork Mounted Bucket

Forklift Bucket for trash, and general use.

4.5 / 5

fork mounted telehandler bucket front and back

Available in 48″ & 60” fork pocket lengths 

1-inch diameter pins secure the bucket to your forks

Exceeds OSHA requirements 

Available in 60″, 72″, 96″ and 108″ widths

Made in the USA

Examples of Forklift and Telehandler Bucket Attachments Include:

  • Dirt Buckets: used for moving and loading loose soil and dirt. These buckets will likely be designed with a lower profile for better visibility.
  • Grapple Buckets: used for handling large, bulky, or irregularly shaped loads. Grapple buckets are primarily used with telehandlers rather than forklifts on demolition and land-clearing jobs.
  • Snow Buckets: used for moving and loading snow. Snow buckets are often designed with a higher profile to heap snow into the bucket.
  • There are two main ways a bucket will attach to your telehandler or forklift. This is with either fork slots or a quick attach system.
  • Forklifts will only use “fork-slotted” buckets, while telehandler owners can purchase a fork-slotted or Quick Attach bucket.

Fork Slotted Bucket Attachments

jlg telehandler with bucket attachment

As the name implies, fork-slotted buckets have fork slots. The operating principle of fork-slotted buckets is quite simple. With your pallet forks safely attached to your host machine, you slide them into the fork slots on the bottom of your bucket and then secure them by placing a stainless steel pin behind the fork’s heel.

Fork-slotted buckets will come with a safety chain that wraps around the fork carriage to ensure the bucket does not slip off the forks if the pins fail.

Ordinarily, fork slots will be closed off on the cutting-edge side of the bucket. This makes sense, as you would want to avoid your forks hanging out in front of the bucket. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure your forks are short enough; otherwise, you won’t be able to secure the bucket behind the fork heel.

Additionally, you should check the width and thickness of the forks against the buckets for slots. Typically, a fork-slotted bucket will have 48″ long fork pockets that are 3.5″ thick and 7.5″ wide.

Lastly, the lifting capacity of your pallet forks should be respected when using them with a fork-slotted bucket.

Telehandler & Forklift Fork Slotted Bucket – Advantages & Disadvantages

Fork mounted bucket being connected to a telehandler

Consider these advantages and disadvantages when deciding if a fork-slotted bucket is right for you.

Advantages include:

  • Improved efficiency: Sliding the bucket onto and off your forks is often faster and easier than attaching quick-attach-style buckets. The fork slots also make the bucket usable with multiple machines.
  • More accessible: More fork-slotted buckets are ready to purchase on the market. This is because quick-attach telehandler buckets often need to be built to order, specific to the customer’s machine.
  • Cost-effective: Compared to quick-attach buckets, fork-slotted buckets are often cheaper to purchase.

Some drawbacks you may find:

  • Need for heavy pallet forks: A fork-slotted bucket is only as strong as the pallet forks supporting it.
  • More prone to damage: The fork slots on a fork-slotted bucket can be damaged if misused. 
  • Can be noisy and clumsy: A fork-slotted bucket tends to bang around on the forks when it’s unloaded.

Telehandler Quick Attach Buckets

example of quick attach telehandler bucket

Also referred to as “Telehandler Quick Tach,” a quick attach bucket is designed to couple directly to your telehandler without needing pallet forks.

A Quick Attach bucket is a more robust and safer setup for a bucket you will use quite often.

Telehandler Quick Attach couplers differ from skid steers in one crucial aspect – they are not universal. This means that the quick attach mount will be a different design depending on the make and model of the telehandler. 

Although a quick attach style mounting system removes the need for pallet forks, it does add complication for renting buckets or businesses that utilize several different types of telehandlers within their fleet.

We will look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of a telehandler quick attach bucket below.

Telehandler Quick Attach Bucket Advantages & Disadvantages

Consider a few of these points when deciding if a quick attach telehandler bucket is right for you.

skytrak with quick connect bucket

Quick Attach Bucket Advantages:

  1. Increased safety: Quick-attach buckets couple directly to your host machine without having to depend on pallet forks. Removing extra parts from the attachment system makes your telehandler bucket safer for your crews.
  2. Less prone to damage: The quick-attach system removes the need for fork pockets and locking pins. This reduces the chances of damage to your bucket when misused.
  3. Less Wear and Tear: A quick attach bucket will couple directly to your telehandler, exactly how the manufacturer intended. This tight fit reduces wear and tear and increases the life span of your equipment.

Quick Attach Bucket Disadvantages:

  1. Increased cost: Quick-attach buckets may be more expensive than fork-slotted buckets.
  2. Compatibility issues: As I mentioned above, telehandler quick attach systems are not universal. The quick attach bucket you bought for your JLG will not work with your Genie 5519.
  3. Slower and more complex: The quick attach mechanism may be complex, requiring a trained operator or maintenance technician to perform the attachment or detachment process, which can also take more time.

How To Use a Skid Steer Bucket With Your Telehandler

I’m always surprised by how many telehandler owners don’t know this simple hack for using a skid steer bucket, or any skid steer attachment for that matter, with their telehandler.

It’s actually not a hack; it is a genius piece of equipment that every telehandler owner should own. For many wise telehandler owners, this is one of the first pieces of equipment they invest in. We are talking about the telehandler to skid steer adapter.

Telehandler to Skid Steer Adapter

Telehandler to skid steer adapter

Telehandler to Skid Steer Adapter | Haugen

This adapter will help you save money by using the common skid steer attachments instead of those costly Telehandler attachments. 

The telehandler to skid steer adapter is a simple attachment. On one side, it hosts your telehandlers couplers, and on the other, it has a universal skid steer quick-attach coupler. Once you have this adapter hooked up to your telehandler, you’ll be able to hook up to skid steer attachments and use them just like a skid steer would.

This is perfect for using a skid steer bucket with your telehandler, but it doesn’t stop there. You can use any skid steer attachment with this adapter, including hydraulic attachments, so long as your telehandler has an auxiliary hydraulic circuit (which most do!). This means you can use brush cutters, augers, 4 in 1 buckets, and more.

But why would you want to use skid steer attachments with your telehandler? Here are a few reasons:

  • Skid steer attachments are abundant and usually cheaper than telehandler attachments.
  • Most rental shops have far more skid steer attachments than telehandler attachments.
  • Where else are you going to find a brush cutter for your telehandler? You have to buy one for a skid steer and adapt it to your telehandler. This goes for many telehandler attachments.
  • You can stop worrying about finding attachments that will have your telehandlers quick attach mount. Just shop for a skid steer attachment.
  • You double your efficiency if you have skid steers and telehandlers in your fleet.

The only real drawback of using a telehandler to skid steer adapter is you do have to be careful not to overstress it. A lot of telehandlers can lift more than what skid steer attachments are designed for.

For example, if you have a brand new JLG 925 Telehandler, it is certified to lift 8,800 pounds. This is more than most skid steers can lift, so it would be unwise to put a light skid steer bucket on your JLG and overstress it.

The telehandler to skid steer adapter is typically built to handle what most skid steers can handle, not what your beefy telehandler can lift. So the adapter itself may only be rated to 4,000 or 5,000 pounds.

Lastly, you wouldn’t want to do something silly like lift workers in a work platform using a telehandler to skid steer adapter. Be sure to follow all manufacturers and OSHA regulations.

Overall, the benefits of having a telehandler to skid steer adapter far outweigh any drawbacks. 

Ryan Genkin
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