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Using shaped branches for tool handles

 
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Hi, all,

I'm trying to make a hay rake for use on my farm and ran into an interesting question that I can't quite find an answer to. Namely, is it a good idea to use wood that's already naturally in the shape I want it to be?

Case in point, when looking at the wooden hay rakes that people have made, it's almost always either a straight single handle, or sawn to create a split near the head. I found a branch on my property that's the seemingly perfect size and shape, and has a Y split near where the head would be on a rake. Would this be sturdy enough to serve as a tool handle? Pictures below of my stick. It's about 1" across on the forked bits and a little over 6 feet long.

I appreciate any advice anyone has.



 
steward
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I think this is a splendid idea and your new rake handle will serve its purpose well. Some woods suit certain purposes better than others. Hickory for example is common as hafts for hatchets, hammers, sledges etc. because it is very strong and doesn't split easily. I think hardwoods will last longer than softwoods, and I also think all wooden handled tools can give a lifetime of service when kept out of the rain and stored in the dry.
 
pollinator
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Why not give it a try?
It might work great.  It might not.
As I see it, the worst thing that could happen is you have a little experience for when you find the next good piece of wood.
 
gardener
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I have made handles from curvy wood several times. It can let you keep the grain within the profile and minimize the chance of splitting. One particularly good one was for a brush hook... photo when I get home...
 
pollinator
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 Ben Reilly asks:
 is it a good idea to use wood that's already naturally in the shape I want it to be?    



Absolutely yes! The strength of wood is in the grain. The grain follows the shape. Wood can be steam bent to the needed shape- a scythe handle for example- but natural curves are still stronger.
 
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I think I’ll take some ash saplings and bend them into tool handle shapes I think it would be stronger be cause the fiber are all there and not carved
 
Phil Swindler
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Hank Waltner wrote:I think I’ll take some ash saplings and bend them into tool handle shapes I think it would be stronger be cause the fiber are all there and not carved



If you are thinking bend a sapling then let it grow for a few years and take on that shape for later, that works.
I've seen trees that were bent when young that held that shape when mature.
I remember one from a camp I attended as a kid.
Someone had tied two branches in a half knot.
As the tree grew those two branches crossed back to their original sides.
It was this big twist of branches that was great for a kid to climb.
 
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I love this idea.  I have a few tool pieces around my yard (a shovel with no handle, a rake with no handle) and I now think I might look for some wood to make handles.
 
Julie Reed
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Check out this guy- a cool idea using coppicing. https://www.bbc.com/news/av/business-33161109/the-man-who-grows-trees-into-chairs
 
Ben Reilly
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Just wanted to give a quick update. The branch I chose above is too thin to support the rake head I was going to put on it. If anyone is planning on going this route, I probably would pick branches that don't go down to less than an inch think. Mine tapered to maybe 5/8" thick.

I'll just have to try again once the garden settles down briefly. :) Appreciate everyone's replies in here.
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