Constructing sand and gravel rakes

Thanks to Chris Haan for making this available. The original pages are still available on the web ( but have not been maintained since June 2001. Most of the links to references and sites do no longer work.

The dowel-tooth rake that Chris made very much looks like the one I made back in 1997. I then however kept no record of how I constructed it. A noticeable difference is the attachment of the braces and the handle. Chris has mounted these to the back of the rake-head whereas I mounted them to the top of the rake-head and used a round handle instead, making it a multi-purpose rake (see Tooling). In this way I can use the flat back of the rake-head to rake the flat surface of my gravel and possibly undo any patterns.

The following shows Chris' s original text (included here are decimal metrics using a comma as decimal separator).


Sand and Gravel Garden Rakes

Q. What kind of rake should I use to make the patterns in my sand (karesansui) garden ?

A.  There are two basic types of rake to which I have seen many references.  The difference in the construction of the "head" of the rake, the handle and braces being nearly identical in both designs.  The first type has a head made from a single piece of wood.  The bottom edge of this piece is cut in a saw-tooth pattern.  The size of these teeth would depend on the desired pattern and on the coarseness of the sand/gravel in your garden.  I think that 2" to 3" (50 to 75 mm) spacing would be appropriate in most cases.  The second type of rake has teeth made from short lengths of bamboo or wooden dowels set into or bound to a wooden block.  3/4" (19 mm) diameter wooden dowels set into a length of 2x4 (5x10 cm) (nominal) lumber should work nicely.  Again, the exact size and spacing of the dowels will vary depending on the coarseness of  the sand/gravel and the pattern you wish to create.  The overall length of the rake head will also depend upon at least two factors.  The size of the area to be raked must be taken into consideration - obviously a 36" (91 cm) wide rake will require only a third of the number of passes that a 12" (30 cm) rake would to rake the same area.  It's likely that you will get a more even pattern overall with a wider rake.  You must also consider the spacing of any objects (stones, for example) around which you must rake.  If you have two rocks that are spaced 2 feet (60 cm) apart, a 36" (91 cm) rake just won't do the job!  Your options are either to determine the best size for your rake taking all factors into consideration or to make more than one rake - a large on for the open areas and a smaller one for the detail work.

Click on the pictures below for instructions on how to make each rake.


"Saw-tooth rake"

"Dowel-tooth rake"

Want to test or improve your raking skills ? Click this link: Raking training.

Top of page