Attaching 1x4 board to rake using steel strap and bolts to make a screed.
Attaching 1×4 board to rake using steel strap and bolts to make a screed.

A screed is a straight edge attached to a handle that’s used to smooth and level concrete, gravel, sand, or soil. To make a homemade screed:

    1. Cut a straight 1×4 board 2’ to 3’ long.
    1. Position a garden rake on the middle of the board.
    1. Drill holes in the board, and attach a piece of steel pipe strap to the board using bolts and wing nuts.
  1. Insert the rake under the metal strap and tighten up the nuts.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information


Joe Truini: The next time you need to level out a garden bed—as I’m doing here—you can use a rake or a hoe, but a preferred tool is a screed. Now if you don’t own a screed, don’t worry; most homeowners don’t, it’s a specialized tool used in the concrete industry. But you can make one simply enough out of a garden rake.

Danny Lipford: Now Joe’s homemade version here is actually made out of a one by four. And he’s attached it to the rake by using a piece of steel strapping, drilling through the one by four, putting a bolt in—actually four bolts—and then using wing nuts to tighten it down. And because of it being a one by four, it’s nice and light and pretty easy to use.

Joe Truini: Now this tool can also be used, not only for smoothing out soil, but also sand when you’re making a brick and sand patio, or a mulch when you’re putting in a new garden, and even concrete—wet concrete—when you’re pouring a new walkway.

Danny Lipford: Now it’s important when you’re making your homemade screed not to make it too long, because it can make for a very long day because of it being so heavy.

Joe Truini: Another thing I wanted to show, Danny, is when you loosen up these wing nuts you can pull the rake off when you just want to use it as a rake. But don’t take the nuts and bolts off, because you’ll wind up loosing them, and next time you want to use it as a screed you’ll have to search for the parts. So leave them all together, and just store it somewhere where it’s easily found.

Danny Lipford: I can see a number of ways this can be used, even say a gravel—when you’re putting down some gravel or something like that—it really works well here on the garden.

Joe Truini: Well, you’re doing a great job, and I won’t stop you now. I’ll catch up with you a little later.

Danny Lipford: Hey, where are you going!

Editorial Contributors
Joe Truini

Joe Truini

Radio Show Co-Host

Joe Truini is a contractor, author, and the host of “Simple Solutions” on Today’s Homeowner TV and the weekly Today’s Homeowner radio show. He has worked on both large commercial projects and residential remodeling, and has written for national publications such as This Old House and Popular Mechanics. He has also written eight books, including three best-selling shed-building books. Joe lives in Connecticut with his family and enjoys hiking, traveling, and baseball in his spare time.

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