Workshop crane buying guide

Workshop crane buying guide

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Guide written by:

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

132 guides

Whether you are passionate mechanic or simply have something big to move, having to lift heavy loads is a common occurrence. For this purpose, a simple tool exists, equipped with a telescopic arm, which makes it possible to carry out lifting operations in complete safety: the workshop crane!

Important features

  • Maximum authorized load
  • Maximum lifting height
  • Type of boom
  • Type of frame
  • Options
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How does a workshop crane work?

The workshop crane is of a relatively simple design, similar to a hydraulic jack.
A frame, equipped with wheels or a dockingstand, provides the basis for a fixed vertical arm. This arm is attached with a pivoting connection, the part of the crane referred to as " theboom ". The load that needs to be lifted is eventually fixed to the end of the boom.

To achieve this, a hydraulic jack, operated manually by shifting a bar or stepping on the pedal, connects the vertical arm to the boom. When the pedal or bar is put into action, the boom is raised. When the pressure is released, the boom will go back its neutral position, or all the way down.

Some workshop cranes offer even more features such as an additionalwinch,telescopicboom or folding legs, to name but a few.

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Workshop crane

What factors to consider when choosing a workshop crane?

One of the first factors to consider is safety. Before purchasing your crane, check that it has a CE label, with no exceptions. This label certifies that the information provided by the manufacturer is correct and that the device has passed all current use tests.
After that, whether it is meant to lift a car engine, load a pallet, or simply displace a heavy load, the following factors should be taken into consideration: 

1. Maximum load

The maximum load is the main factor to consider next, but be wary, it takes a trained eye to get it right! The maximum permissible load is provided for the shortest possible boom length (if adjustable). This of course implies that the load is at a minimum lifting height. Let us take as an example of a 2 T (tons) workshop crane, with an extendable, ajustable boom, from 95 to 150 cm. You will indeed be able to lift 2 T, but only in the shortest boom length: 95 cm! In the extended 150 cm position, the maximum load drops to 650 kg, but the load can be raised higher. This technical constraint must therefore be carefully calculated in order to avoid any danger and lift your loads in complete safety.

2. Maximum lifting height

The maximum lifting height is the second factor that needs to be looked at, especially if you intend to use it for any mechanical work. Imagine that you are attempting to replace your car's engine, except that your crane cannot lift it high enough to clear the hood... The maximum lifting height is directly related to the length of the boom. Just be wary, because as we mentionned above, the higher a load is lifted, the less the crane will support the weight. If you are crane shopping, and you need to lift your loads relatively high, be very attentive to the actual load that the end of the boom can handle! 

3. Type of boom 

The boom is a primary part of a crane's constitution and determines its maximum lifting capacity. Since any and all weight that is lifted will firstimpact the boom, it must be sufficiently dimensioned in order to handle the weight. There are two types of booms to choose from: fixedor telescopic.
Fixed boom
A fixed boom allows for the lifting up to the maximum load capacity directly from it's end, without any risk or issues.
Telescopic boom
This is a setup that requires constant vigilance. A telescopic boom is very practical because it allows the lifting hook to be lifted as vertically as possible above the load. But as we have seen, the longer the boom, the less weight it can lift.

4. Type of frame

The type frame is also important and there are generally several choices available to you, depending on your needs.

Fixed frame
For fixed booms, the crane's vertical arm is held by a base that is fixed directly to the ground or attached to a trailer, a pick-up truck, etc. The advantage in this setup is that the crane is stable and can often rotate. On the other hand, the load is not moveable and a winch will be a permanent requirement for successful use. 
Rolling frame
Most cranes are equipped with a rolling frame. This makes it possible to displace a hanging load to anywhere in the workshop. One thing to watch out for though, be careful to verify that the frame's height, including the wheels, does not exceed the maximum height - such as the height of a pallet or the bottom of the car's trunk, for example.

Folding frame
This is in fact a rolling frame which can easily be folded up or where the feet, equipped with wheels, can quickly be dismantled. This allows for easier storage whenever the crane is not used. Should be reserved for occasional or rare use.

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Lifting hook

Workshop crane: usage tips

Here are a few tips to consider when operating a workshop crane:

  • Whatever its type, the crane should be set in a stable position, if possible on clean, dry ground.
  • Adjust the settings based on the load to be lifted, and do not hesitate to secure it with cables or straps.
  • If your crane has a folding chassis, make sure that all parts are in place and secure before lifting anything.
  • If your crane is equipped with wheels, consider stabilising them with wheel chocks before starting to lift!
  • For increased security, don't forget your protective gloves and your safety shoes!
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Wheel chocks

More Information

Have a big object to move? A tree to de-root? An assemble line to run? Follow the links below for related accessories, advice from our editors and more helpful guides:

And to work safely:

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Guide written by:

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff, 132 guides

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Electrician by trade, I first worked in industrial estates where I installed, wired and fixed a large number of electrical installations. After this, I managed a team of electricians for this type of work. 10 years or so ago, I turned to building and construction. From the modest family home, to gyms and theatres; I have been able to coordinate, audit and organise all sorts of construction sites. for 4 years now, I am restaoring and bulding an extrension to a bungalow in the heart of the welsh countyside. My experience in manual work and my knowledge means I am proud to be of service. Terraces, interior design, roofing, plumbing, electricty, anything goes! We have, my wife, daughter and I, built almost everything we have from scratch! So to answer all of your questions, and to orientate and advise you on coosing your tools? Easy!

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