How To Build A Back-ReLeaf Rake
A few years ago, as I was bending to scoop up fallen autumn leaves, it hit me: a sharp pain in my lower back, closely followed by the thought “There MUST be a better way to do this!”
I was still hobbling stiffly a few days later when I used our pooper-scooper to clean up my Rottweiler’s recent attempts to fertilize my garden. And then it clicked: make a larger “leaf-scooper” like this and I could save my back!
So, I bought the few supplies needed and built one. It worked so well and was such a boon to my back that, before long, my greed-gland kicked in. I thought, “I could make a fortune selling these to other gardeners!”
My fortune lost is your good fortune
Well, since that time someone has introduced a product to accomplish the same tasks. I haven’t tried it out but it looks like it would work.
So, my flash of back pain and brilliance is probably not going to make my fortune.
It could, though, make your leaf collection chores a lot less painful.
Here’s how to make one yourself in about 15 minutes (not counting getting the needed parts.) It’s so easy, even the most basic of DIYers can do it.
It’s a very simple concept: Two long handles with scoops at the end. They are connected together with a screw in the middle of the handles so they scissor open and closed. Think pooper-scooping. Or if that’s off-putting, think salad tongs.
• Two matching small-headed rakes
• One 2.5 inch machine bolt
• One nut or wing nut to fit
• Two plastic or metal washers
• An electric drill with bit
First, get two rakes. For ease of use, I recommend getting ones with heads that aren’t too large and that are plastic. My personal preference is two Vigoro 8-inch, clog-free rakes (number 1919500.) They’re about nine dollars each at Home Depot.
While at the hardware store, get a 2.5 inch machine bolt, a nut or wing nut (my preference) to fit and a couple of plastic or metal washers.
You’ll need an electric drill with a bit large enough to drill a hole for the bolt to go into. That’s all you need.
Lay one rake on a flat surface with the tines curved up. Lay the other rake tines down so the handles are side-by-side, just touching. This will mean that the two rake heads do not exactly meet – they will be offset by a tine or two on either side. That’s the correct placement.
Then, just choose a spot about midway up the handles and mark places on the outside of each handle exactly parallel to each other.
Use your drill to drill the marked holes straight through the side of each handle. (The Vigoro rake has composition handles and drilling through them is quite easy.)
Slip the bolt through one rake, add a washer, then slip on the other rake. Add a final washer and then finish with the nut or wing nut. Tighten the nut so it holds the rakes together well but not so tight that opening and closing them is difficult. Using a wing nut makes it easy to adjust the tension as needed.
Now, to collect leaves, all you have to do is stand tall and use the Back-ReLeaf Rake to do the reaching. When you squeeze the handles, it grabs leaves and then you use just your arms to lift the load and drop it into a waiting bag. (Or compost pile.)
And that’s another benefit – I use my Back-ReLeaf to move compost and mulch as well. It’s great with wood chips or – back to its origins, manure.
Hope you try it and hope it makes your autumn leaf collection less of a pain this year!