If you go to Romania, you must be prepared for hard work. The life, however, is healthy, although they have to be at work from early morning till late at night, and engaged in duties of the most laborious character. People have a thorough knowledge of all ordinary household duties, dairy work, farming, poultry keeping, etc. Once upon a time, a man built his own house, made his cooking utensils, raised the wool that he made into clothing, cultivated the soil with implements of his own making. The ability to make their own household goods has been known to prove quite a small fortune to its possessor in a land where, until recently, all these goods were so scarce, that people paid a lot for them. “My father used to make wooden clogs, rakes, that’s the way it was in the past”, remembers carpenter Ilie Olariu sitting in the middle of his cool, shady workshop from the village of Iaslovăț, preparing for making a wooden rake that serves to collect cut hay or straw into windrows.
Romanian farmers handicraft their hay rakes from hardwood: beech for the tines and a softwood: maple, willow, sycamore, or poplar for the handle. To begin making a wooden rake, he picks out a long rod to handicraft the handle. „This is how people worked in the old days, with their bare hands”, he says with a joy that can only come from the beauty of making things by hand. Having machines at hand that can make work much easier, he goes for the traditional tools for the job.
The rod is shaved down using a drawknife. Then, with a saw, he makes a v-shaped cut down the center of one end. The rod needs to be freshly cut in order to be pliable and not crack when making the cut. A piece of metal strip nailed around the base of the v-cut prevents the handle from splitting any further. Next, he makes the rake’s head, marking the spots where the teeth are going. It is shaved with a planer and drilled.
The teeth are manually shaped with an ax and driven through the head of the rake. He marks out the spots where the handle is connected to the head. The end of the handle that is sawed down is introduced in the head. A rake goes through at least 20 hand operations before it is completed. With strong teeth made of hardwood and a lightweight handle, the rake is a highly resistant, easy-to-use tool.
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