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How To Tips

CobraHead® Short Handle  |  CobraHead® Long Handle  |  CobraHead®Broadfork

Using the CobraHead® Weeder and Cultivator

The CobraHead® blade is a "steel fingernail®". It works with either or both hands. Wear gloves when working with this tool! For small weeds, grasp the tool where the handle meets the steel shaft and place your forefinger along the blade shaft to let you place the blade where you want it. Shave off weeds at or below ground level. For low lying weeds such as purslane, use the tip of the blade to lift up the plant mass. Lift the weed with your free hand. Gently pull on the stem and drag out the root with the blade tip.

For tap roots, shove the blade into the soil behind the root crown. Place blade behind the fattest part of the root. Use the soil as a cushion to keep from snapping or cutting the root and pull toward you. For larger weeds use two hands - one on the tool and one grasping the weed. Pull with just enough tension to break the feeder roots without breaking the tap root.

The tool is an excellent cultivator. It cuts the hardest packed soils. Use it to break up clods. Use it for planting. It makes a furrow or trench easily. Set small transplants. Make seed holes and small bulb holes. It's a good edging device for smaller areas. It's an excellent mud scraper for cleaning other tools. Use it to clean out mower decks and roto-tillers. Turn blade sideways - use it as a crack weeder for sidewalks, flagstones and rock gardens.

Using the CobraHead® Long Handle

We suggest you always wear gloves when working with this tool. We also remind you that gardening and agricultural injuries are quite possible due to both repetitive motion and the jarring action of swinging the tool into the soil. This is a common occurrence with gardeners and agricultural workers whether with this tool or others. Don't overdo it! Change from right handed to left handed action frequently, take breaks, and stretch often. The locking collar may seem to make the blade end of the tool slightly heavy, but the tool has weight for a purpose. Without the weight, the tool would bounce off hard soil and sod, instead of cutting into it. Use the weight of the tool to do the work, and you will soon realize the necessity of the weighted end.

Just remember that the blade is a "steel fingernail®". Think of having a long, strong and sharp fingernail at the end of the handle. It is an extremely valuable tool for weed control, garden maintenance, and cultivation.


There are several actions for weeding. You will develop your own technique after you start working, but it is possible to pull out whole weeds intact with the root system depending on the size of the weed and the softness of the soil. To do this, drive the blade into the ground just behind the bulkiest part of the root and pull toward you. Keep a little soil between the roots and the blade. The soil will act as a cushion to help you from snapping off the roots. With practice you will develop the ability to pull out clumped roots, tap roots, and runner roots.

For major weeding projects, we highly recommend using this tool in conjunction with a good garden fork and the original CobraHead® short handled tool. With these three tools you should be able to tackle most weeding situations

Scalping is a very effective method of weed control. Scalping is cutting off smaller roots at or below ground level. Small weeds will be killed by this. Larger weeds may have enough root left to put out new leaves, but frequent scalping will kill almost any weed. Scalping is best accomplished by using a sweeping action and using the side edge of the blade to do the cutting.

Cultivating The CobraHead® Long Handle is a most useful cultivating tool. Its blade will work just like a small plow and it will work in tough soils. It will even work in wet soils. Wet soil will stick to the blade and decrease its effectiveness. Clean off wet soil and clay build-up on the blade as it occurs.

When cultivating, digging, or edging with the tool - "less is more". Do not take huge bites when you first start. Let the weight of the tool do the work and don't drive the tool deep into the soil, initially, until you have loosened it up. Again, you'll develop your own favorite techniques, but practice letting the weight of the tool drive the blade into the soil. You can cut prairie sod with this tool, but take shallow bites to start.

Remember that the blade is a "steel fingernail®". If the job you are doing requires a mattock or a backhoe, then use those tools!

Raking While one might think the little blade would not make a useful rake, we suggest you try it for de-thatching and cleaning out old growth. We use it to move piles of wet, soggy leaves with which we mulch our beds. We use it to move soil along our raised bed edges, and we use it in our compost pile.

Edging/Trenching The sharp edge of the CobraHead® blade makes it an ideal edging tool. It is also a good tool for making a shallow trench.

The blade can be sharpened as you would with a knife or other small cutting tool. Use a stone or a fine file. Use the rib along the back side of the blade as a guide for the blade bevel.

Do not leave wood-handled tools outside. When stored inside, wood handles can last indefinitely.

Using the CobraHead® Broadfork

PURPOSE OF THE COBRAHEAD BROADFORK: The primary purpose of this fork is to loosen and aerate compacted soil. It can also be used as a weeding tool and a harvesting tool.

This fork is not designed to break up hardpan and rock-hard soils. It can work in very tough soils but some soils may need to be first broken with a tiller, a mattock, or a fork specifically designed for hardpan. We recommend that when working in really tough soil, the soil not be completely dry. Many tough soils can be more easily be worked when they are damp (not muddy), either after a rain, or by manually watering.

Pay attention to the handles. They flex a lot, and they will almost always break before the tines bend or break. The flex of the handles should be your guide as to determine whether the soil is too tough to be worked or if you are biting too deeply. If the handles are flexing a lot to the point where snapping is possible, you are overworking the tool. Either the soil is too tough or you should not put the tines in deeply until the soil has first been broken by using shallower bites.

We strongly recommend wearing shoes or boots with a hard sole. Using this tool with soft shoes could do damage to your body!

Work backwards down the bed or work from the side of the bed to avoid stepping on freshly worked soil. Place the fork in front of you with the curve of the tines away from you. Step on the center of the crossbar to position the fork. Push the handles forward and away from you. Work the fork into the soil by moving one foot from one side of the fork to the other while maintaining pressure on the crossbar. Working your foot from side to side will push the tines into the soil. Work the fork all the way to the hilt (bottom of the crossbar) or as far as you want to go or can go into the soil.

Pull the handles back toward you, which will lift up a chunk of soil. Bring the handles back up and push forward, crushing the soil. Lift the fork out of the ground and bring it back toward you about six inches and repeat the process. Try to develop a rhythm and the process is not difficult.

If necessary, repeat the process from a different direction to work the soil smoother and to break up more clods.

Don’t let rust build up. Clean fork after each use. Wiping with a slightly oiled cloth can help prevent rust.


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