Best Bow Rakes

Updated May 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

22 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
400 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best bow rakes

Last Updated May 2019

A bow rake is a heavy-duty tool that offers more power than a traditional leaf rake, making it the perfect tool for gardening or tasks like leveling gravel. While it’s not the tool for raking leaves, the sturdy design of most bow rakes makes them well suited to a variety of tasks.

Bow rakes have handles that vary in length to accommodate different tasks and users. The handle may be made of wood, which is long lasting but somewhat heavy, or metal, which may bend over time but is fairly lightweight. While some bow rakes have plastic handles, these should be avoided because they can break easily. The widely spaced tines should be made of metal so you can handle tough jobs like spreading gravel or leveling dirt. A sturdy, reliable bow rake is a tool that will last you for decades.

While even the best bow rakes aren’t incredibly expensive, you should still choose your tool carefully. To learn more about the varieties of bow rakes and their uses, continue reading our buying guide. When you’re ready to buy, look at our top picks, too.

While landscape rakes are designed for larger jobs and leaf rakes for light yard work, bow rakes fall right in the middle.

Key considerations

What is a bow rake?

A bow rake gets its name from the shape of the head, which is traditionally made of metal. The parallel tines are supported by a metal bar that connects to a bowed piece of metal that connects to the handle. This is similar to a landscape rake, which has a wider head that connects directly to the handle with no bow.

What will you use your bow rake for?

Whether you need a tool for gardening or repairing your driveway, you should select a bow rake for the job (or jobs) you’ll use it for most. A bow rake should be tough enough for the task at hand. The sturdiness of the handle and resilience of the head and tines are the main factors in this. In general, the more durable the bow rake, the heavier it is. It’s possible to use a bow rake to rake leaves, but that job is best left to the fan-shaped head of a leaf rake.

Bow rakes can be used many tasks, including the following:

  • Spreading gravel, mulch, dirt, wood chips or compost (tines)
  • Loosening soil for gardening (tines)
  • Collecting debris (tines)
  • Leveling gravel, mulch, dirt, wood chips, or compost (flat side of head)
EXPERT TIP

The bow of a bow rake can flex slightly, which is useful if you catch the rake on a root or large rock.


Staff  | BestReviews

Bow rake features

Finding the perfect bow rake for your yard or garden means considering the materials that make up the handle and head, as well as the rake’s size and other features.

Handle

The handle of a bow rake is a crucial component. Its length and strength determine how comfortable the rake will be to use and what tasks it is equipped to do. Note that a handle isn’t included with all bow rakes – the head may be sold separately. Don’t make the mistake of buying just the head when what you need is the whole rake.

Length: Most bow rake handles range from 48 to 64 inches long. Some rakes have adjustable handles that allow you to change the length for different jobs or users. Check the length of your other yard tools to determine what length handle is most comfortable for your height.

Material: Bow rake handles can be made of wood, metal, fiberglass, or plastic.

  • Wood is a classic choice and still the most popular option for its durability and strength. You aren’t likely to break a hardwood handle, and it won’t bend over time with heavy use. However, it’s one of the heavier options. On the downside, it’s possible for wood to rot or warp.
  • Metal is a durable material that can be lighter than wood if the handle is hollow. Steel handles are the most common option. While they’re fairly strong and lightweight, they can bend if used regularly for heavy jobs.
  • Fiberglass is the most durable choice and less susceptible to breaking than wood. It’s also lighter, which allows you to work for longer periods without becoming tired. Bow rakes with fiberglass handles are often more expensive.
  • Plastic is lightweight and affordable, but it’s the most prone to breaking. In addition, it’s the least environmentally friendly option. For these reasons, we believe fiberglass, metal, and wood are better choices for bow rake handles.

Bow rakes are often referred to as “level head” or “garden” rakes.

Tines and head

Tines: Most bow rakes have 14 to 18 tines spaced about an inch apart. More widely spaced tines are better suited to tasks like spreading mulch or gravel, while narrowly spaced tines work better for raking debris.

Head: Most bow rake heads are around 16 inches wide. Almost all are steel ranging from 10 to 16 gauge. The lower the gauge, the thicker and sturdier the steel. Forged heads are made from a single piece of metal and are the least likely to break. Welded heads are also a good option, but it’s possible for the welded parts to separate. Some bow rakes have a steel ferrule that attaches the head to the handle. This ensures that the head stays firmly attached without coming loose.

Weight

The head is the biggest contributor to the overall weight of a bow rake, and heavier-gauge steel typically means a heavier rake. The lighter the bow rake, the longer you can use it without becoming fatigued. However, a heavier head is less likely to bounce and vibrate when working with gravel or other coarse materials.

Additional features

Grip: Some bow rakes have a rubber or foam grip for added comfort. This can be particularly important with steel-handled rakes, which can get quite cold.

Attachment: Some bow rakes have an attachment in the middle of the handle, which can ease back strain and give more power to each pass.

Additional tines: Some bow rake heads have a second set of shorter tines on the reverse side of the head.

Bow rake prices

Inexpensive: Many bow rakes that cost $15 to $25 have wooden or plastic handles and 16-gauge steel heads that may or not be forged. Few bow rakes in this price range have grips.

Mid-range: The bow rakes that cost $25 to $35 have wood, steel, or fiberglass handles. Forged-steel heads are more common in this range, as are foam or rubber handle grips.

Expensive: The bow rakes that cost $35 to $50 are high-quality tools made from durable components that will last for decades. Steel, wood, and fiberglass handles are common, and some handles may be adjustable. Added features like double tines or extra handles are common.

EXPERT TIP

A bow rake shouldn’t be the only rake you own, but it might be the most versatile rake in your shed.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Wear gloves. A pair of gardening gloves can go a long way toward preventing calluses, reducing soreness, and protecting you from the cold.
  • Store your rake properly. The classic gag of getting whacked in the face after stepping on a rake is no joke. Don’t leave your bow rake lying in the yard. Stepping on it could result in a nasty jab in the foot or smack in the face. Yes, this really happens.
  • Don’t discard a broken rake. A broken handle doesn’t mean your rake is useless. A handle is fairly easy to replace and far cheaper than buying a new rake.

Other products we considered

While we believe our top recommendations are the best bow rakes available, there are a few other rakes we thought we’d cover briefly. For an affordable bow rake, there’s the TABOR TOOLS Level Head Rake, which has a 54-inch fiberglass handle and comfortable grip. Though the steel gauge isn’t listed by the manufacturer, customers find this rake to be sturdy and up for a variety of jobs. Another low-priced fiberglass option is the The Ames Companies True Temper Double Play Bow Rake, which features a head with a second set of shorter tines for easy spreading. Though the tines could bend with heavy use, this is a rake that works well for garden work, especially tasks like spreading mulch and soil. If you’re looking for a bow rake that holds up to commercial use, the Truper Tru Pro Welded Bow Rake is a good option. Many customers praise the ruggedness of this rake and find that it works well for heavy jobs like raking gravel.

Bow rakes have two uses: loosening and breaking up materials with the tines and leveling materials with the flat side of the head.

FAQ

Q. Do fiberglass handles break easily?
A.
No. There’s a reason many sledge hammers have fiberglass handles. If the handle does break, however, it can be difficult to replace.

Q. What’s the difference between flat and curved tines?
A.
Curved tines are generally better at gathering leaves or debris, while flat tines are a bit stronger and best suited to heavier jobs.

Q. Should I get a bow rake or a landscape rake?
A.
That depends on what tasks you’ll use your rake for. A landscape rake has a similar design with a wider head, allowing you to easily complete tasks like spreading pebbles over a walkway. However, the size and weight of the head make it too cumbersome for most gardening and yard work.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Linsay
    Linsay
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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