DIY Forklift Elevator for the Shop or Barn

Larry Wood turned an old Clark forklift mast into a heavy-duty shop elevator by mounting it along one wall and building a platform onto the mast in place of the forks. He uses it to ride up to the upper level of his shop.

The elevator is controlled by electrically powered hydraulics, so a simple electric switch is used to move it up or down. This makes it easy to retrieve parts or other equipment from the upper storage area.

“Now I can ride up to the balcony with whatever I want to store,” says Wood. “The 2-stage mast will lift 2 tons about 12 feet high, although the barn’s second floor is only 9 feet above the floor. The platform is big enough that I can load lots of stuff on it.”

He attached the mast to a 2-by-6-foot steel tube located between two of the posts on his shop wall. He welded a steel frame to the mast forks and bolted a 4-by-6-feet-long, 3⁄4-inch-thick plywood floor onto the frame.

He made an electric-hydraulic power pack for the elevator by combining a 12-volt hydraulic power unit and a 12-volt battery that’s attached to a trickle charger. Electric-operated elevator buttons are mounted on the forklift and on the wall.

“The elevator only uses power on the way up, so when I push the button, it coasts down. I store the elevator at the second floor level just to keep it out of the way,” says Wood.

He bought the hydraulic power unit used at a yard sale for $125. He paid $100 for the forklift mast and spent about 200 dollars to rebuild it, adding new rollers and repacking the hydraulic cylinders.

For more information, contact Larry at

  • Published on Feb 8, 2017
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