German Rakemaker

by | Aug 20, 2022 | 2 comments

Morgan and I got back from a west-coast vacation a couple weeks ago and I’ve been carving seats and gluing up chairs ever since.   I’ve got 18 undercarriages together and 22 to go.  I might switch to putting backs on for variety.  I’ve never had a opportunity to get in a rhythm carving seats, but it’s getting faster and better – I’ve got it down to around a half hour per seat, minus the scraping and sanding. 

In my downtime I’ve been watching Youtube videos.  I re-discovered this rake making video last night – I  love making rakes and pitchforks and have sold them sporadically to museums and re-enacators over the last 20 years.  I live in America’s plentiful forest, so I start with a huge log just like American tool makes have done for 200 years (and how Drew Langsner’s book taught me).  Europeans often have a different take. This video is from 1978 Germany and shows the making of an angled, two-sided rake such as I had never seen before:

They start out in the fields cutting saplings.  I love their steaming setup for straightening the saplings (I won’t spoil it for you).  Then they head to a very nice shop for some indoors work. 

Roy Underhill would be happy to see him waxing his saw blade – I’ll always remember Roy going from bench to bench with a block of mutton tallow, greasing all the saw blades and offering encouragement as students cut out their seat blanks.  

I’ve never seen someone loosen a holdfast by hitting the end under the bench – what’s that about? 

I love how they can eyeball all the hole angles, even though random-seeming handles will go into into the holes.  Do all trees grow branches at the same angle?  Probably not.

Photos of my chairs-in-progress:





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David Jones
1 year ago

Elia’s Chair One-Person Factory. Holy moley, that’s a lot of chairs!

1 year ago

“I’ve never seen someone loosen a holdfast by hitting the end under the bench – what’s that about? “
Probably because the head was too low due to holding a thin piece and the hole in the workbench has grown a bit too large.
I have done this 55 years ago but I didn’t knew I was supposed to hit the back of the holdfast head.

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