Dowel tooth rake


Sand and Gravel Garden Rake

"Dowel-tooth rake"

Before you begin this project, please read through the instructions carefully including the additional notes and suggestions (see link at the bottom of this page). There are many ways in which this design can be modified to meet your particular needs or tastes.
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  • 22" (56 cm) length of 2x4 (5x10 cm) lumber (Note: this is the nominal size of the board, the actual dimensions are 1 ½" x 3 ½" (38 x 88 mm) )
  • 5 foot length of 2x2 stock (again, nominal: actual dimensions 1 ½" x 1 ½" (38x38 mm)
  • one 36" x 3/4 (91cm x 19 mm) diameter wooden dowel
  • three #8 x 2 ½" (5x60mm) wood screws
  • two #8 x 1 ½" (5x40mm) wood screws


  • cross cut hand saw
  • wood chisel ½" to 1" (12 to 25mm) wide
  • wood rasp and/or sandpaper
  • electric or manual  hand drill
  • 3/4" (19mm) spade bit or wood boring bit




This rake is much simpler than the saw-tooth rake as far as layout is concerned.  First, mark the tooth positions along the edge of one of the narrow sides of the 2x4 (5x10 cm).  The first mark should be 1 inch in from the end and then every 2 ½ inches (63 mm).  Your 9th mark should fall 1 inch (25mm) from the other end of the 2x4.  Second, using a carpenter's square or combination square, extend these marks across the 2x4, and then mark the mid-point of each line - ¾ inch (19mm) in from either side.  That's really all there is to the layout.  


Drilling the holes for the dowels can be a bit challenging if you don't have access to a drill press.  I simply used a hand drill - luckily one with a back that is parallel to the drill bit.  I was able to brace the back of the drill against a scrap of 2x4 clamped to the piece that I was working on.  Using this scrap as a guide, I was able to drill more or less straight holes.  I say more or less because even with the support, the holes do tend to be somewhat larger than the drill bit size.  Regardless of the type of drill you use,  I would recommend that you clamp a scrap of 2x4 on each side of the piece that you are drilling to prevent any splitting.  Drill the holes approximately one inch deep.  If you need to, wrap a piece of tape around the drill bit to mark the desired depth.


Cut the dowel into lengths equal to the desired length of the teeth plus the depth of the holes that they will fit into.  I made my teeth 3 inches (76mm) in length, so adding 1" (25 mm) for the part that fits into the 2x4, I cut each tooth 4 inches (10cm) long.  I  thought about various methods that I could use to fasten the teeth into the 2x4, but I finally decided to simply glue them in place.  I decided that if any of the teeth ever broke, I could drill out the old one and simply glue in a new one.  If I had access to a drill press and was able to drill the holes for the teeth more accurately, I might have fastened them in with screws from the side.  As the case was, though, my holes were not terribly accurate and using the glue allowed me to adjust the alignment as the glue dried.


Cut a notch in the center of the 2x4 opposite the edge where the holes for the teeth are located.  The notch should be 1 ½ inches (38 mm) wide and 7/8 inch (22mm) deep.  These dimensions are designed to allow the diagonal braces to meet the handle at its midline if they are fully notched into the top of the rake head so as to be flush with its top surface.  If you use a handle of different dimensions, you should adjust these measurement accordingly.  As with the saw-tooth rake, it is better to cut this notch slightly small and enlarge it to fit the handle using a rasp or coarse sand paper.


To attach the braces to the handle,  first cut the end of the brace at a 45 degree angle, then place it in the desired position against the handle, resting on the back of the rake head.  Make a mark on either side of the brace on the back of the rake head.  Make a cut just inside these marks ¾ inches (19mm) deep, then make a series of additional parallel cuts between them.  Break these "wafers" loose by inserting a chisel into one of the cuts and prying them out.  Using a chisel, trim the remaining waste from the bottom of the groove.

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Double check to make sure the handle is square to the rake head using your triangle or carpenter's square. Place the brace into the groove that you just cut.  The fit should be snug.  Align the brace so that it fits flush against the side of the handle.  Drill the hole through the handle into the rake head first, and screw the handle in place.  Next, drill the hole in the head end of the brace and fasten it at that end.  Finally, drill the hole through the brace into the handle.  You should drill this hole twice.  First drill all the way through the brace and into the handle using a bit slightly smaller that the screw diameter.  After that, change to a bit slightly larger that the diameter of the screw and drill through the brace only.  This is to prevent the end of the brace from splitting when the screw is driven in.  Screw the upper end of the brace to the handle, being careful not to over tighten it.  Now you can trim the end of the brace flush with the front surface of the rake head.

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Finally, chamfer the edges of the teeth slightly with a rasp or sandpaper and shape the handle as desired.

Your rake is now finished !

See the final notes.

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