I have a tall house with a very steeply pitched roof. This means cleaning the rain gutters can be a bit dicey. In order to avoid plummeting to my death or spending lots of money on tall ladders and/or scaffolding I came up with this solution. I decided to turn my pole saw into a gutter rake. For those of you unfamiliar with a pole saw it is a wonderful invention for trimming trees from the ground. It has a pruning lopper and a pruning saw blade on an extendable pole. The model I have starts out about six feet long and maxes out at approximately twelve. It is this telescoping ability that makes it the perfect base for a gutter rake. You can extend this bad boy to rake gutters that are well out beyond your reach, while you maintain firm footing.
The best part of this conversion is it isn't permanent. The rake head and saw blade are readily interchangable.
A note about safety: I know some pedantic wanker will raise this but I figured I would beat him to the punch: be careful! Don't let the pole saw or any other implement touch over-head lines. Also when working on a roof be aware of your surroundings. Most of us are used to working in environments where you won't fall to your death. Don't become so focused on raking you fuck-up and die. Think and look before you step!!!
Step 1: Tools & Materials
These are the materials and tools I used. I mainly used stuff I already had that would have just been sent to the landfill or recycled. I spend a grand total of two dollars U.S. for this project. That was for epoxy. A word of note about epoxy, buy the fat setting stuff for this project. I get to why further down, but trust me it will save you some frustration and swearing.
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Dremel with heavy duty cut off wheels (or similar cutting implement)
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Power drill with bits
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Drill bit/screw sizer
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Ball-peen hammer
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Marking pen
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Torch (or other heat source)
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Bench vise
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Tape measure
This will very with what you have available in your junk piles. I give a general description and put what I used in parentheses.
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Metal for rake tines. Preferably something that wonÃ¢â¬â¢t rust. (metal support ribs from old windshield wipers)
Ã¢â¬Â¢ A base to secure the tines to. (I started with circular piece of plastic, but changed to a Jif peanut butter lid)
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Epoxy (I wish I had used fast drying)
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Scrap plastic (hotel key card)
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Packing tape or finger caulk ( I wish I had used it)
Step 2: Determine Gutter Width
Measure the rain gutter. You need to know how wide your gutter is so your rake will fit in it. Write this down. The width of the gutter may also influence your choice of what you use for a base and how you lay out the tines. For instance I choose to use the narrowest part of my gutter as a cut-off point to insure the tines would fit in the gutter.
Knowing the depth might be helpful as well this way you can make the tines long enough to reach the bottom. I didn't do this. I figured I would be using the rake at angle and depth wouldn't matter as much.
Step 3: Base Prep 1
Once you've chosen your material for the base (Jif peanut butter lid) you'll need to drill holes in it so it can be attached to the pole saw. Unscrew the wing nuts and remove the saw blade. Use the holes in the blade as a template to mark the spots where you will need to drill on the base material. If you are using a base with a raised edge be sure you leave enough room so the wing nuts can be turned.
Use a drill bit/screw sizer to determine the diameter of the threaded rods that hold the blade in place. Mine were 5/16" and 1/4". Grab your drill and appropriate bits. Drill the holes in the spots you marked on the base using the blade as a template. Be sure you use the right bit on the right mark. Then test fit just to make sure.
Step 4: Tine Prep
For the tines you need to figure out how long you want them. When doing this you need to consider three lengths:
Ã¢â¬Â¢ The length of material you want to glue to the base;
Ã¢â¬Â¢ The length of the tine from the edge of the base to where the tine bends to form the leaf grabbing teeth; and
Ã¢â¬Â¢ The length of leaf grabbing tooth.
I decided that I wanted the tine to project six inches from the base. I figured I could epoxy about an inch in the base without blocking the mounting holes or interfering with the wing nuts. And then I arbitrarily decided to make the teeth two inches long. So I needed to cut wiper ribs into nine inch lengths. I marked out nine inch lengths and then secured the ribs in my bench vise and cut using my Dremel. I ended up with seven tines. It would have been eight but a visit from the gnome of chaos led to a cutting error and a pygmy tine. I consigned this runt to the scrap bin, but he came in handy later.
Step 5: Tooth Prep
After you pick a length for the leaf teeth (I choose two inches) mark it on your tines. Secure the tine in a bench vise at the mark you just made leaving the majority standing straight up out of the vise. Bend this length to one side with your hand. Strike it a few times with your ball-peen hammer to put in a 90 degree bend. Repeat this for each of the other tines.
Step 6: Base Prep 2
Choose the positions where you want your tines to connect with the base. You can mark them or just eyeball it like I did. Get a piece of metal that is approximately the same width of your tines. This is where the scrap from tine cutting in Step 3 (A.K.A. the pygmy tine) will come in handy. Holding it with your pliers, heat the end until it glows really bright orange. Then use it to melt a hole in the base material where the edge joins the bottom. Repeat this at each position where you want a tine. Then insert the tines in the holes. I apologize for not getting a picture of this, but with only two hands it just wasn't practical.
Step 7: Joining the Base and Tines
Line up the ends of your tines in the base so they are even. Trim a piece of plastic to a length so it meets up with the sides of the lid. This will form a dam to hold the epoxy in the area around the ends of the tines and keep it from flooding the attachment holes. Make sure that is spaced far enough from the attachment holes so that you can still turn the wing nuts. If not readjust the ends of the tines and the plastic.
Once you have it in place tape of finger caulk the plastic in place. I didn't do this, being deluded enough to believe that I could pour the perfect amount of epoxy that would hold the tines in place but not knock over the plastic. What resulted was the "Great Epoxy Flood of 2007" or in the parlance of RadBearese "OH FUCK!" Needless to say this led to much improvising and clamping. This is why I would encourage you to use the faster setting epoxy. One can dispense with the clamps and just hold it for a little bit until it sets up.
Step 8: Epoxy Clean up (Optional)
Should some epoxy seep past the plastic dam and enter the attachment holes you'll need to clean it or you'll just have a hand rake. I used my trusty Dremel and a grinding stone to clean off the excess epoxy.
Step 9: Attach and Rake
Secure the gutter rake to the pole of the pole saw using the wing nuts. Go forth and rake. The only problem I encountered was I forgot about the little gutter supports that are in the gutter about every 18 inches. Instead of pulling the leaves back to me, I had to pull to the nearest support and then used a twisting motion to flip them out of the gutter. Now I have to use a regular rake to clean them up off the ground, but these are leaves that would have otherwise composted in my gutter and clogged them. So I choose to view the gutter rake as a success.