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Bucket Teeth Basics: What You Should Know

Bucket Teeth Basics: What You Should Know

Bucket Teeth Basics: What You Should Know

Reading time: 7 min

What are Bucket Attachments?

Bucket attachments are special attachments used on heavy equipment machinery, like tractors and skid steers, to scoop and carry materials such as dirt, debris and gravel. Bucket attachments come in a wide variety of sizes and types, each meant for a particular use case.

What are Bucket Teeth?

Bucket teeth are heavy duty metal spikes that attach to the bottom, or lip, of a bucket attachment. They are frequently used together with excavators and loaders to perform tasks that require high penetration, such as digging and trenching.

Properly selected bucket teeth enhance your machine’s ability to dig into heavily compacted soil or rocky terrain. Compared to a simple bucket without teeth, using a bucket with teeth can reduce strain on your machine and improve its digging capacity.

Bucket teeth are available in a variety of designs intended for specific applications. Each design has its own strengths and weaknesses, and maintenance requirements vary between the designs.

Bucket Teeth Types

The most popular types of bucket teeth are:

  • Chisel
  • Rock Chisel
  • Single Tiger
  • Twin Tiger

When choosing bucket teeth for your machine, you’ll want to consider the terrain you’re working in and how much digging power you need.

Chisel bucket tooth

Chisel Teeth

Pros: durable, versatile, leaves behind a smooth bottom

Cons: inefficient for penetrating compact soil, broad point cannot effectively fracture rocks and other hard materials

Chisel bucket teeth are the most common type of bucket teeth. The teeth have a broad design that narrows into a flat chisel shape at the working edge of the tooth.

Their wide shape, which flattens into a broad chisel rather than a sharp point, results in a very large working surface area. This enhanced surface area makes chisel teeth more resistant to abrasive terrain and they tend to wear down more slowly.

Since chisel teeth have a flat working edge, they leave behind a smooth bottom when used for digging trenches or leveling terrain. This makes them ideal for clearing, scraping and cleaning surfaces.

Choose this design if you are using a skid steer or mini excavator for general hauling or leveling and trenching tasks in loosely compacted soil.

Rock chisel bucket tooth

Rock Chisel Teeth

Pros: durable, versatile, good penetration

Cons: expensive, poor impact performance, does not leave behind smooth bottom

Like standard chisel teeth, rock chisel bucket teeth have a somewhat broad design that narrows into a flat working edge. Unlike standard chisel teeth, however, rock chisel teeth are designed for superior penetration and durability.

In addition, rock chisel teeth frequently have a ribbed design, which provides additional strength and penetration capabilities. Their all-purpose design makes them well suited to clearing and scraping hard or rocky terrain.

Choose rock chisel teeth if you are using a skid steer or loader on rocky terrain that requires good penetration.

Single tiger bucket tooth

Single Tiger Teeth

Pros: high penetration, high impact performance, excels in hard materials and compacted soils

Cons: expensive, poor durability, does not leave behind smooth bottom

Single tiger bucket teeth have a spike design that narrows into a pointed working edge. This design provides superior penetration capabilities, but results in poor durability.

Compared to chisel designs, single tiger teeth have much better penetration capabilities. The extremely narrow working edge focuses the power of your machine onto a single point, allowing you to break through tightly compacted terrain.

Since they are constructed of less material, single tiger teeth are not very durable and wear down quickly. They also do not leave a smooth bottom, so they aren’t ideal for grading and leveling.

Choose single tiger teeth if you are using a loader or skid steer for digging and trenching in rocky or tightly compacted terrain.

Twin tiger bucket tooth

Twin Tiger Teeth

Pros: superior penetration, high impact performance, excels in hard materials

Cons: expensive, poor durability, does not leave behind smooth bottom

Twin tiger teeth have a two-pronged design, providing twice as much penetration as single tiger bucket teeth. These v-shaped teeth excel at penetrating hard surfaces like rock or frost, but they’re harder on your equipment and need to be replaced frequently.

For applications where penetration is the main concern, twin tiger teeth are a great solution. They can handle extremely hard surfaces such as rock, hardpan and frost.

Choose twin tiger teeth if you’re using a loader to dig and trench in challenging surfaces where superior penetration is required.

Machines Used With Bucket Teeth

Bucket teeth can be used on a variety of wheeled heavy equipment to accomplish challenging construction and excavation tasks. Whether you should use bucket teeth with your machine depends on your application and the terrain you’re working in.

Many machines are commonly used with bucket teeth:

  • Excavators use buckets with teeth for extra digging power while undertaking tasks like trenching, mining, demolition or dredging.

  • Mini Excavators can make use of buckets and bucket teeth for common tasks like clearing land or digging foundations.

  • Skid Steers are frequently used with buckets and bucket teeth to clear soil with roots and other tightly compacted surfaces.

  • Backhoes need buckets and bucket teeth in order to dig into hard surfaces like frost or hardpan.

  • Loaders use buckets and bucket teeth for numerous applications like demolition, farming, mining and waste management.

  • Tractors make use of buckets with teeth for a wide range of activities, such as preparing rocky soil for farming or clearing brush and vegetation.

  • Telehandlers can be fitted with bucket attachments and used to transport loose materials. Oftentimes, a bucket attachment may be used with a telehandler in sectors like agriculture to move bulk quantities of grain or feed..
A bucket with bucket teeth sitting upright on the ground

Bucket Teeth Maintenance

While bucket teeth can improve the power and efficiency of your heavy equipment, they must be properly maintained in order to see any real benefit. Bucket teeth that become worn down, dull, or loose must be repaired or replaced.

When to Replace Bucket Teeth

Generally, bucket teeth begin losing effectiveness after 6 weeks of regular use. You should replace bucket teeth whenever your machine starts to lose digging power due to dull teeth. If you notice your bucket teeth have been worn down to nubs, it’s time to replace them.

The lifespan of bucket teeth is highly dependent on how you’re using the teeth and the abrasiveness of the soil you’re working in. Highly abrasive soil will wear down your bucket teeth more quickly, sometimes cutting the lifespan of your bucket teeth in half.

Train your operators to check the condition of their machine’s bucket teeth before each shift. Heavy equipment should never be operated with missing bucket teeth–using a tooth bucket with just the shanks can wear the shanks down, rendering them unusable.

How to Attach and Detach Bucket Teeth

Bucket teeth secured with a pin and lock mechanism can be attached and detached using a hammer and pin punch.

Attaching a bucket tooth is a straightforward process:

  1. Place the round lock to the side or bottom of the shank, depending on the orientation of your shank’s pin hole (side-to-side or top-down).
  2. Slide the tooth over the shank and lock and hold it in place.
  3. Using a hammer and pin punch, hammer the pin through the hole, from the side opposite the lock, until the groove in the pin fully engages with the lock.

To detach a bucket tooth, use a pin punch and hammer to hammer the pin out, tapping it from the side of the lock. For example, if the lock is located on the right side of the shank, then tap the pin out from the right side, forcing it out through the hole on the left side of the tooth.

Bucket Teeth Lifespan

On average, bucket teeth need to be replaced every 1-3 months. The abrasiveness of the soil you’re working in has a significant impact on the lifespan of your bucket teeth. In very abrasive soil, you may need to change your bucket teeth every 3-4 weeks to maintain your machine’s digging power.

Where To Buy Bucket Teeth

Getting the right bucket teeth for your equipment can be a tall task. Luckily, we’re here to help. Explore our collection of bucket teeth and choose from leading OEMs like Takeuchi, Hensley, Kingmet and more. Need more help? Contact one of our parts experts for personalized assistance.


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