In a couple of weeks I’ll be at the Beamish Show of Agriculture, making and selling wooden hay rakes. Here’s a lovely video on the making of wooden hay rakes, from the Sam Hanna Collection, look out for the oak swill basket being used to hold the tines.
Film No. 5250
Title: OLD ENGLISH CRAFTS; MAKING HAY RAKES LANCASHIRE TYPE
Producer: Sam Hanna
colour , sound (sep), 10 min. 20 sec:
Filmed in 1966 the film is for me as much about the shift to mechanisation as about hay rake making. The commentator explains that “as a hand craft, rake making belongs to the past” and “the machine takes out the laborious task of using hand tools.” I’m sure they did make a lot more rakes per day but it’s surely ironic that “hay rake making as a hand craft was killed by mechanisation and revived by the use of mechanised tools.” I wonder how many other men were put out of an income and how the few now running that machinery felt in the day to day work. It’s summed up in another classic line:
“..the hand brace and bit has been substituted by a boring machine.”
I make similar rakes, as well as the southern split-stail version. They’re terrible to send through the post so I sell them on my Learn to Scythe courses and at fairs around the country. As a result I don’t sell many but I’m glad to be keeping some of the craft alive and making a few by hand, rainy days.
alive and making a few by hand, rainy days.
“You come away from the great factory saddened, as if the chief end of man were to make pails; but, in the case of the country man who makes a few by hand, rainy days, the relative importance of human life and of pails is preserved.”
–Thoreau: The Journal October 19th, 1858