A straight stail is essential for a good rake so it can slide through your hands while you work and and for balance. You can test a rake’s balance by holding it horizontally in your hands. As you relax your grip it should rotate to hang with the head level and teeth down, ready for work. Otherwise you’ll always have to work to keep it level, tiring your arms and hands more quickly.
While Mike was shaving his rake stail from a length of cleft ash, I set about straightening some small coppice poles in the brake. The pole should be seasoned first and then steamed to make them pliable. I work carefully over the whole area of the bend, flexing it and gradually working out the curves.
You can see the results in the straightened pole stood up in the picture.