Build A Wooden Hay Rake: Making Hay the Old Fashioned Way

| 8/10/2010 5:58:00 PM

Hakn Will in the corn patch.I'll admit it, I've been forever fascinated with old ways of doing things. And even though I love the sounds and smells associated with making hay using diesel-powered equipment and modern, self-tying large round balers, I've always wondered whether I could pass muster with my ancestors and make sufficient hay to feed some critters through the winter using only a scythe, wooden hand hay rake, pitchfork and wagon. I've used a scythe off and on over the years to whack weeds, and I would always rather do something physical around the farm than go to the gym and run on a treadmill, so I decided that making hay the old fashioned way would be good for me. I already had access to an Austrian-style scythe and we had a few old pitchforks, but I needed something to handle the raking. I've seen vintage wooden hay rakes in antique stores -- and they sell for pretty good money so I decided to have a go at making one myself. I took a look at some rakes online and even took a look at some "plans" in a couple of green woodworking books and then just decided to do like my German ancestors would have done when they hit the Dakota territory in the late 1800s -- make do with what I had around.

Homemade Wooden Hay Rake 1

My first step was to head into the small copse of woods in the center of the farm to harvest a Hackberry sapling of sufficient length and dimension to shape into the handle. I cut and limbed the sapling with a machete that the folks at SOG Tools sent me to mess around with. I next cut a Hackberry log about 30 inches long and 6-inches in diameter from a snag left by the dozers when they repaired one of the pond dams on my farm (my chain saw came in handy for this work). I carried these pieces along with a 20-inch by 8-inch diameter Black Walnut log, sourced from the same snag, back to my improvised woodworking shop in the barn and went to work.

Homemade Wooden Hay Rake 2

To begin shaping the handle, I shaved the bark from the Hackberry sapling using a drawknife I bought in 1978 to shape boat parts (my boat building phase lasted about 10 years).

Hank and the Beachcomber Alpha dory he built from a John Gardener design.

Hans Quistorff
4/13/2013 7:04:50 AM

I ordered a broom handle tap and dye set a few years back to repair some tools. We had a big snow after they arrived so I drilled and tapped a short piece of 2x4 and screwed it to 6 inch by 20 inch piece of scrap paneling. screwed that onto a long handle and it worked great for pulling snow off the roof. Think I will shave the bark off an apple limb and use smaller limbs for the rake pins. If by some chance my brace fails and the handle breaks off I can re thread it and screw it back in again.

4/8/2013 3:45:16 PM

very nice. I want the plans for the boat!

9/9/2012 11:03:21 PM

Great idea. After I've finished building my shed - . I should have enough wood left over to build rake as well.