The Holy Grail of hand tools – but at what cost?

Those of you who watch Gardeners’ World will no doubt have noticed the rather smart double tine rake that Monty uses from time-to-time to work the soil.  When it made its first appearance Monty mentioned (I paraphrase a little here) that if you could get hold of one it was well worth doing so as it was a damn fine piece of kit.

I did look at it  admiringly and probably gave a manly grunt in appreciation of such a fine tool, but that was that.  Until recently that is when I was asked by my sister what I would like for Christmas (so very organised she is) and my first thought was for that fine rake.  Easy-peasy thinks I, job done, I’ll just look it up online and see where one can get hold of it.

And that is where the trouble began; it took me an age to find it, trying all sorts of descriptive phrases in google search, scouring web forums and then eventually I came across a link for the Broad Galvanized Steel Hand Harrow (nice name) and low and behold there it was before me, gleaming and glinting and beckoning … until I saw the price, a whopping £81.40 (and that is without the handle!!).

Now I love a new tool as much as the next man, especially when it looks like it would make a real difference, but that is stretching it, even though it comes with the Monty Don seal of approval.  So perhaps the  Hand Harrow is not a suitable stocking filler (at any rate, it would require quite a big stocking)? I may have to take the plunge and fork out (nice tool related pun methinks) on one myself, though I daren’t tell the wife how much it costs … bugger, she’s probably read this!

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10 responses to this post.

  1. good tools always seem to cost a lot. I’ve read soemwhere that tools cost more in the UK because gardening is viewed as a hobby that people are prepared to spend money on. In Italy, on the other hand, it is viewed as something people do to produce food, but not a hobby so the tools are cheaper but I have to admit the quality is usually rubbish (except for secaturs), I usually get things send or I have been known to carefully wrap a spade or fork and put it in the suitcase – how sad is that? Christina

    Reply

    • I don’t think that’s sad Christina, I’d probably do the same too if I couldn’t get hold of decent tools! Having used some cheap duds in my time I usually am quite happy to pay that bit more but this is quite a bit more. The company that makes this tool is a German company and I had a look at the .com site and the harrow was still 79 euros so I guess it is just an expensive item. Jason.

      Reply

  2. I too have been enamoured of Monty’s fine double-tined rake and was half hoping to find one in a garden-centre near me, but £81.40? I suppose quality costs and if it’s a lifetime investment spread over 20-40 years of happy gardening then it’s not so bad, but still…

    I wonder if you could weld two normal rake-heads together for a similar effect, something like that? Or if trying that out would actually take more than £81.40 worth of time and effort 🙂

    Reply

    • Hi Darren, not sure if the effort would produce as fine a quality product at the end of it and I’ve never seen a normal rake with tines like those on the harrow so I may have to bite the bullet and get the genuine article! Like you say, if it is going to last years then the cost is relatively small in the long-run. Jason.

      Reply

  3. The kind gardeners on the ukveggardeners.com and the magic of twitter, furnished us with its official harrow name. We did take the plunge and bought one, despite heavy price tag. We were looking for a tool to do just this job, so decided to purchase. I was very surprised on arrival, as had not read small print, that it had no handle, which was a bore. Finding a handle was not easy, no B&Q, Homebase etc sold wooden handles anymore! Anyway, is a very good tool, very well made and does what it says on the tin. Though as warned by Jaap Sneeboer, makers of all lovely Sneeboer tools (though not harrows), it is heavy. According to Jaap a rake does the exact same job. We found that it is best used on soil that is level, otherwise its pretty tough going. Incidentally, Jaap has some interesting info regarding its origins which you can read on the forum http://ukveggardeners.com/forum/topics/mystery-rake.

    Reply

    • Hi Petra,

      Thanks for the info. regarding the harrow, good to have a review from someone who actually owns one and I hadn’t really given the weight of it a thought. Thanks also for the link to the forum; I’ll certainly delve into that.

      Best,

      Jason.

      Reply

  4. That’s Manufactum for you. I don’t think we’ve ever bought anything from them but we have their catalogue and peruse it (sighing at all the lovely things) often.

    Dave

    Reply

    • Hi Dave, I might get a catalogue too so I can look at the nice things from time-to-time and dream of the time when I am a wealthy man for whom and 81.40 rake is but a snip!!

      Reply

  5. I generally believe it’s better to pay a bit more quality tools. I wouldn’t be without my Felco secateurs but £81 seems quite extreme for a rake. Have you thought about looking for a local tool auction or swap? My best spades, forks etc are all old ones.

    Reply

    • Quite agree about the Felco’s, certainly a worthwhile investment. I do come across old tools sometimes but I often think they are quite overpriced (all part of the vintage craze) and so am loathe to spend my money on them. I also find that older tools tend to be shorter in the handle which isn’t really ideal as it can make any serious digging seriously back breaking!

      Reply

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