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A new twist on an old tool

Confession: We scoffed at the low-tech Wet N Dry rake from Union Tools when we saw it. Why reinvent a simple tool?

Plastic with a padded, lightweight-steel handle, the American-made rake has a dial down at the business end that extends and retracts a tine- stiffening shroud (for wet leaves). We thought the control belonged farther up the handle. Still, the rake ended up in the hands of a longtime raker who, unprompted, pronounced it "a really great rake" in the face of a lot of leaves - and under, well, wet 'n' dry conditions.

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More rigorous testing followed. The advantage of the rake ($18.95 at Home Depot) seems to be not so much the tine-stiffener as the cupped shape of the 26-inch-wide tine area, which really gathers leaves in. Consider replacing that toothless bamboo number that you've been harboring in your shed.