McLeod (tool)

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Firefighter carrying a McLeod in a field

A McLeod tool (or rakehoe) is a two-sided blade—one a rake with coarse tines, one a flat sharpened hoe—on a long, wooden handle. It is a standard[1] tool during wildfire suppression and trail restoration. The combination tool was created in 1905 by Malcolm McLeod, a US Forest Service ranger at the Sierra National Forest.[2]

The McLeod was designed to rake fire lines with the teeth and cut branches and sod with the sharpened hoe edge, but it has found other uses. It can remove slough and berm from a trail, tamp or compact tread,[3] and can shape a trail's backslope.

The tool can also be used for hand crimping straw mulch into soil a minimum depth of 2 inches (5.1 cm), and is sometimes specified by the State of Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety for use during erosion control and soil amendment activities.[4]

Common issues[edit]

Because of its large and sharp head, the McLeod is an awkward tool to transport and store, and is often considered undesirable. Some McLeod[5] tools are made with a removable blade to partially mitigate this problem. Ideally it is carried with the tines pointing toward the ground for safety, with a sheath over the cutting edge. The mass distribution makes it difficult to carry in this orientation consistently.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Siguenza, Eddie (2008-07-24). "Guardsmen fight fires with special friends". California National Guard. Archived from the original on 2012-12-12.
  2. ^ Davis, James B. (1986). "The True Story of the Pulaski Fire Tool" (PDF). Fire Management Notes. US Department of Agriculture Forest Service. 47 (3): 19.
  3. ^ Pacific Crest Trail Association (March 2011). "Course 107 Hand Tool Maintenance" (PDF). p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-11-11.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2012-11-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ American Trails Retrieved July 15, 2006
  6. ^ "Voices from the Past 25: John M. Longdon 2". Archived from the original on November 28, 2005. Retrieved May 13, 2008. U.S. Forest Service - Heritage Resources Retrieved May 13, 2008