Saturday, March 14, 2015

Wooden Rake Details For Lady Locust (w/pics)

Click photo to enlarge.

The teeth of the rake are tapered octagons, and are about 4-3/4 inches long today; I suspect they were 5 inches originally. Despite the fact that you try not to let the teeth touch the ground during use, they invariably do part of the time. You'll notice that they appear rounded on the ends. They were originally flat, with the half away from the handle removed at 45 degrees. Also, you notice some variation in the thickness of the teeth. That may be due partly to being split out, rather than having been cut from boards. They average about 11/16 at the rake head and 7/16 at the tip. Taking wear and shrinkage into consideration, I suspect they were originally closer to 3/4 at the shoulder and 1/2 at the tip. I say "shoulder," because they are whittled into a half-inch dowel on the ends, which serves as a tenon to the half-inch holes serving as mortises in the head.

Surprisingly, the teeth are held in by friction alone. There appears to have been no effort to align the end-grain of the tenon in any particular way, as it varies from tenon to tenon when you look at the top of the head. You'll notice that there are ten teeth. The span is 24" from outside to outside of the end mortises, not the centers. That puts the teeth about 2-2/3 inches apart, but I imagine the builder walked them off with dividers, rather than measured them. The two end teeth tend to catch the most on the ground, in grass clumps and in vines, possibly explaining why they are a bit heavier than most of the rest. Also, to keep the ends of the rake head from splitting, either on its own, or from torque on the end teeth, two small nails go through the rake head between the end mortise and the end of the head. They are clinched over across the grain on the far side. I'm sure the holes were drilled.

Click photo to enlarge.

Here's a closer view of the way the handle is attached. The handle and head are both 1-1/8 inches deep, so their surfaces match. Both pieces appear to have been planed from sawn boards, rather than split out. The handle is one inch the other way, giving it a slight oval feel to its octagonal shape. A full-width tenon comes through the head's 1-1/16 thickness. The tenon is a half-inch thick and was originally wedged; however, somewhere along the way the wedge fell out. That leaves the head still held in place three ways. The friction of the mortise and tenon, the homemade iron joining plate (full width of the handle and about 5 inches long, held with one screw in the head and two in the handle) and the wire braces. The wire is about an eighth of an inch in diameter, so I suppose it's nine gauge, which is a common fencing wire. The braces are made from a single piece of wire, going through the handle and pressed against it for an inch or so, then angling out to where it contacts the head. There, also, it's pressed aginst the wood before going through the wood. A section of wire about 3/4 of an inch is clinched with the grain on the outside.

Click photos to enlarge.

Here are a couple more shots, just for good measure. The teeth were in a straighter row in their younger days. All are original, which is kind of miraculous, when you think about all the use this thing got. They're in better shape than I thought, but I may stiffen them by sinking a small diameter 2" screw in the mortise end of them. I'll also replace the wedge in the handle connection, give the whole rake a good cleaning and rub some linseed oild on it before I ever use it. With even that limited care, it may well outlive me, even if used moderately. © 2015


Sunnybrook Farm said...

That answers my questions, well designed and should take a lot of use.

Gorges Smythe said...

It has certainly earned its keep over the years, SF!

Lady Locust said...

You're on the ball! I wasn't expecting anything so soon. Now I have to see what I can come up with. We have locust here which is a nice hard wood. I'll be scouting every twig now & auditioning each to see if it's good enough for a tine, head, or handle. Again thank you. I will save the post address so I can just click and use the reference. Some gals might like jewelry. I get more of a kick out of old treasures.

Gorges Smythe said...

You know, LL, I forgot to mention that the whole thing is made from oak. At this time, I couldn't tell you whether it's white or red for sure, but I THINK it may be red. Locust would make good teeth, but it might tend to warp as a head or handle.