is the perfect bamboo leaf rake extinct?
WANTED: Bamboo leaf rake that doesn’t lose teeth or handle for at least one season. Preferably with a padded sleeve to grip, rather than just a skimpy, plain wood rod. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so; I fear my ideal of the bamboo rake—a tool I have always loved for its light weight, easy on the raker and the residents of the bed being raked—has gone extinct.
It has joined the perfect long-handled shovel, another tool I just cannot seem to replace since mine broke years ago. Sigh.
I am not a bruiser, nor is Susan, who helps in the garden part-time. We don’t try to rake gravel or too-heavy piles of wet, matted leaves, with a bamboo rake; we know it’s not the right tool for those jobs. But one recent spring we busted three brand new bamboo leaf rakes in their first month of use, raking borders and lawn. The crappy metal strap (above) that holds the tines in place let go in no time on all; on one, some teeth snapped, too.
Last raking season we were virtually rakeless, down to a couple of those awful green plastic rakes that have become the fashion, purchased in emergency mode the previous fall when nothing else was available nearby.
Searching for my dream rake, I found myself in the tool aisle of the nearest garden center talking bamboo rakes. Three of us—the owner, a nursery employee and I—recollected the good old days when McGuire made them. No more. (I did find a vintage newspaper ad for them, though, above.)
Of the current bamboo contenders, the teeth are often too long and too curved, but most important: that damn strap is inadequate to hold the fan of tines together.
No bamboo types at any local outlet made the cut, so I reluctantly took home something called a Yard Butler rake (model LT-20). This unusual metal spring rake violates my rule of never buying any tool with a cute name. It’s very tough and flexible, compared to a typical metal spring rake, a tool I never use. The tines sort of float in a perforated metal strap that spans them (above), creating that combination of durability but extra flexibility.
The new rake cost much more and will presumably last much longer than my coveted bamboo one. It has a slightly too-small head and an unpadded handle. But I had leaves to rake, miles and piles of them, so onward it and I go together. So far, so good, I’ll reluctantly admit, though I confess to continuing bamboo fantasies. A couple of brands I cannot find locally are on mail-order–just in case they prove any good.
What tool are you armed with as you tackle garden cleanup? Steel spring lawn rake? Or maybe the telescoping, expandable metal kind some friends favor, but I’ve never fallen for? If you happen to know a source for vintage McGuire bamboo rakes or the equivalent, I’ll be forever grateful.
(Disclosure: Purchases from Amazon affiliate links yield a small commission.)