Mother's Leaf Bagger

This leaf bagger is a handy solution to a "short-handed" problem.

| September/October 1979


The finished leaf bagger will look something like this.


Anyone who has raked leaves alone (and who hasn't?) knows that bagging all those "tree sheddings" can be a real nuisance. Put simply, the problem is this: Two hands are required to hold the bag open, and two more are needed to pick up your "harvest". Since most folks have only one pair of hands, any solo yard-cleaning performance can turn into a real comedy act.

You can remedy this situation, however (and save yourself some time and temper), by whipping up one of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' bag carts. The whole project won't soak up more than an hour of your time, and chances are that you already have most if not all of the necessary parts just sitting around and waitin' to be discovered.

After all, our leaf bagger only has a few components: An old bicycle rim (16" or larger in diameter), a pair of small wheels with their axle (baby carriage rollers or a child's wagon wheels will do just fine), 10' of 1/2" electrical conduit (professionally called E.M.T. or electrical metallic tubing), a 4" length of 5/8" wood dowel, and some assorted hardware will do the job.

Start by separating the tire and tube from the rim—if they're not already off—and then carefully remove the rubber band which guards the tube from the spoke ends. (This strap will be used later to secure the bag to the bagger.) Once the tire and tube are off, you can take the spokes (and hub) out of the rim by loosening the wire "struts" with a spoke wrench or screwdriver. If you don't plan to reuse the spokes for their intended purpose, you can save some time by clipping them close to the rim with a pair of wirecutters. (By the way, keep those clipped wheel braces handy. They're fine for wiring things together, reaming out holes, or doing yeoman duty as small hooks.)

Now that your materials are collected, you're ready to bend the conduit to form the frame. (Unfortunately, satisfactory bending is almost impossible without a tube bender, and-if you don't have such a tool-you may find it less expensive in the long run to buy one than to have the work done. (Benders are available for between $15 and $20.)

First find the exact center of your 10' length of conduit. Measure out 3 1/2" in each direction from this central spot. Begin to make a 90° bend at each of these two points to form the tubing into a "U" shape. (Remember that a 90° turn eats up about six inches of tube, so make all your subsequent measurements from the ends of the arcs.)

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