Zen Rake

By: Spatula Tzar

Spatula & Sickle

This is a rake I built for a miniature Zen garden. There are several guides available for making them, but I wanted to do better.


I began with a striped laminated block of wood intended for turning pens. I drilled holes for the shaft and tines of the rake.


Drilling rectangular stock is much easier than trying to drill a dowel. It looks rather odd right now, but laminates are hard to visualize.

Turning to round

This is the most difficult step. Laminate stock is quite fragile to impact torque, so I had to proceed very slowly, less the cutting tool catch and destroy the wood. This is where using a metal lathe comes in handy.

Finish turning

Once the block it turned to round, it becomes much less fragile. From here, I sanded it all the way down to 2500 grit before parting it off.

Pink sawdust

Curiously enough, the laminate produced some of the strangest sawdust I've ever seen. It's bright pink. I would have thought the blue-green layers would attenuate some of the red, but apparently not.

Vacuum infusion

This is my favourite step: vacuum infusion. I placed the wood in my vacuum chamber, added some mineral oil, and began to pump out the air. Gas immediately began to bubble out of pores in the wood, being displaced by oil. The end result is a darkened wood with a perpetually wet sheen.


Here are the rest of the pieces, turned from buckthorn, my favourite wood. It's an invasive shrub where I live, so there's plenty of it, and I needn't feel remorse for cutting it down. They were given the same infusion treatment before everything was buffed to a glossy finish.


Here is the final result. The pieces were glued together with epoxy to ensure a durable rake. I photographed it on velvet fabric for added atmosphere. It has an almost macabre feel, reminding me of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

~~Spatula Tzar

Bitcoin: 1KEWmWK3Sn9ToEHxhXmoXax6ycNGgLMfLv