Make a European-Style Hay Rake

It might look primitive, but a European hay rake is well-suited to its purpose. Here's how to make your own.
By Susan Allen
May/June 1979
Add to My MSN

The European-style hay rake looks something like this.
PHOTO: KANUSOMMER/FOTOLIA
Slideshow


Content Tools

Related Content

Step by step instructions for DIY projects

Detailed instructions for do-it-yourself projects

The most far-out DIY thing you can think of

What's the most far-out DIY project you can think of?

Hay Day

The accumulation and storage of hay is an essential summer task.

Annual Family Hay Ride

Fun is where you find it, in this case it is a hay ride for the family along our trail.

There's really no comparison between the common mass-produced garden rake and the specialized haying tools used in Europe. French farmers handcraft their hay rakes from three kinds of hardwood: hazelnut for the handle, aspen or ash for the head, and ash or rowan for the teeth. If necessary you can use all ash, or if that's not available, strong and flexible spruce will do.

To begin, select the wood for your handle. Try to find a hazelnut sapling 8' to 10" taller than you are and about 2" in diameter. Fix the pole in a vise, and smooth off the bark and rough edges with a draw knife. (When it's finished, the staff should be about 8" taller than you are and 1 1/2" in diameter.)

Next, use a saw to make a 17" cut down the center of one end of the handle and—with a pocketknife—whittle these two ends into a pair of 3/4"-diameter circular prongs. Then, two or three strands of wire around the base of the Y- cut, and twist the ends tightly together with a pair of pliers to prevent further splitting.

For the rake's head use a 1" X 2" X 28" piece of ash. Fix the board in a vise with the 2" side up and drill two holes along the center line, one 12 1/2" from each end of the plank. Make the bores just under 3/4" in diameter, and go clear through to the other side so the handle's prongs can be wedged in tightly.

To make 30 teeth, you'll need three ash boards (each 1" X 30"). Begin by fixing a board vertically in the vise and carefully splitting it down the middle—lengthwise—with a hammer and hatchet. Then saw each half into five equal segments of 6 inches each, which should you leave you with ten 1" X 1" X 6" square pegs.

Cut the other two boards the same way. Then get comfortable and whittle the pegs into round teeth with your pocketknife. As you carve them down (to 3/8" in diameter and 5" long) try to curve each tine slightly. (Teeth curved in the direction of the pull make for a stronger and more efficient rake.)

Now, hammer the teeth into 5/16"-diameter holes, pre-drilled to angle slightly toward the handle, through one of the 1" surfaces of the head. Tap them in until they're flush with the opposite edge. (Make sure all the curves point in the same direction.) As double insurance that teeth are solidly fixed, secure each one in place with a 3/4" nail on the handle side of the head Each brad should protrude slightly, so that you can remove it if a tooth breaks and has to be replaced.

Finally, put the handle in the vise and match up the two center holes of the rake's head with the prongs. Hammer them together until the prongs, too, are flush with the other side and fasten the fork in place with two 1" nails pounded in at an angle from the top of the head. Again , let the fasteners protrude a little for easy removal.

Sure, makin' your own rake involves a little work, but when you're out raking hay you'll find it was darn well worth it!








Post a comment below.

 

Roland Green
1/8/2013 6:51:52 PM
The drawing in the picture gallery show a traditional hay rake, however, the rake in the photograh looks fine but lacks bracing between the head and handle which you'll fine on most wooden hay rakes here. Commercial rake usually use metal but for homemade a couple of pieces of timer will do the job just as well. Without the bracing after a while the head will loosen and twist at an angle to the handle.Look for images, "wooden hay rakes, uk."








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.