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How to Make a Snow Rake for Fast Cleaning of Roofs

how-to-make-a-snow-rake-for-fast-cleaning-of-roofs

This rake only took about half an hour to make. Total cost probably a few dollars. You can use a tool like this to clear snow off single story buildings and work from the ground.

The Goldilocks Climate of Ireland : A Short Geography Lesson!

I live in Ireland and because of our position as a small island in the Atlantic, at the edge of Western Europe, the ocean keeps us "warm" and our climate is mild. It's officially termed a temperate maritime climate. So it's never very hot in summer and never too cold in winter because of the buffering effect of water and how its thermal inertia reduces large swings in temperature. The warm Gulf Stream current also keeps the ocean warmer at our latitude than it would be off the coast of New York, which although it's at a lower latitude and closer to the equator, suffers from harsher winters. Wind in Ireland predominately comes from the south west, gathering moisture from the ocean before it makes land, and we don't often get snow, just lots of rain! Typically we may get a couple of snow showers in the winter when weather comes from the east and continental Europe, but not every winter, and snow accumulations never really exceed 6". It's more likely we get a light sprinkling of an inch or two that's gone within a week as the wind changes back to coming from the SW. In 2010 however, we had three feet of snow that lasted over a month. The roof of my workshop had a heavy load and as it thawed, it slid down the roof and damaged the gutters. In 2018, we had a foot of snow and not wanting any more damage, I decided to build a snow rake to clear the roof.

Design of the Rake

The rake needed to be light so that it could be manoeuvred on the roof. Basically it consists of a length of 2" x 1 1/2" slating lath with a board attached. The board is angled so that it acts like a chisel and drags the snow. I used some stiff wire as ties to reduce weight and stop the board pulling off the lath. I used this rake from ground level, so it works fine for cleaning the roofs of single story buildings.

Materials Required for a Roof Snow Rake

  • A length of 2" x 1 1/2" (50 mm x 37 mm) slate lath, cut to the desired length to act as a handle.
  • One piece of 28" x 8" x 1/4" (70 cm x 20 cm x 6 mm) plywood
  • 2" (50 mm) wood screws. Heavy gauge screws such as TEK screws used for attaching metal cladding to timber are ideal because they have an integrated washer.
  • A few feet (1 m) of either scrap copper wire from cable, fencing (bull) wire or wire from a coat hanger.

Tools Required

  • A hand saw, circular saw or jigsaw.
  • Philips screwdriver or cordless driver.
  • Pliers
  • Side cutters (snips) or junior hacksaw for cutting the wire.

Step 1. Cut the End of the Long Timber

I angled the board so that it would act like a scraper when digging into the snow. I cut the long timber that acts as a handle to an angle of approximately 45°.

Cut a 45 degree angle on the end of the handle.

Cut a 45 degree angle on the end of the handle.

Step 2. Cut the Plywood Board

I used 1/4" (6 mm) shutter plywood which is adequately strong. You can also use 1/2" (12 mm) ply but it'll be heavier. The aim was to keep the tool light so that it could be manoeuvred with ease on the roof. Use whatever saw you have available for cutting the timber. It doesn't need to be accurately cut and a hand saw is perfectly good for cutting if you don't have power tools. I decided on making the board around 28" wide and 8" deep. I found these dimensions resulted in a tool that was easy to control. You could make the board taller than 8" so it can cope with deeper snow accumulations, but several passes with the rake would probably be a better option.

Step 2. Screw the Board Onto the Handle

I used 2" x 1/4" (50 mm x 6 mm) wood screws for attaching the ply board to the handle. Washers stop the screw heads pulling through the ply. Try to keep the screws centered vertically in the end of the handle.

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Use heavy screws to attach the board to the end of the handle.

Use heavy screws to attach the board to the end of the handle.

Step 3. Attach the Ties to the Ply and Handle

If you don't use ties, the board will simply rip off the handle. The ties could be pieces of timber, but a lighter solution is to use wires. You can cut copper wire with a snips, or use a heavy duty snips, fencing pliers, bolt cutters or junior hacksaw to cut bull wire. Some pliers have a facility at the side of the pliers, near the pivot point for cutting steel wire or coat hanger wire.
I just made holes in the ply and looped the wires through and then twisted the ends around the wire on the other side. You can attach the other ends of both wires to the handle at the same point, using a screw driven into the handle to act as as an anchor.

Loop the ties through holes in the ply.

Loop the ties through holes in the ply.

how-to-make-a-snow-rake-for-fast-cleaning-of-roofs

Step 4. Sand the Handle

If you've used rough, unplaned timber, the handle may cause splinters depending on how roughly sawn it is. You can sand the end section with a belt sander or rough grit sandpaper. Pay particular attention to the four corners and smooth these down with the sander. It's a good idea in any case to use working gloves when using the rake.

References

This article I wrote explains the basics of cutting angles on the ends of lengths of wood:

How to Cut Wood at an Angle With a Hand Saw or Miter Saw

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2023 Eugene Brennan

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