Tool Tut

2010 May 9

Rakes!Rakes and Combs

Traditionally, rakes for marbling have teeth that are widely spaced and combs have teeth that are narrowly spaced.  For each size tray that you marble in, a new set of tools to fit needs to be constructed.  Here is an easy way to make combs and rakes for all of your marbling projects.


Plastic lengths:    These are actually corner bead for drywall, but with conveniently placed holes perfect for marbling tools! 

Look for Drywalll bead in your big box home improvement store!The corner bead is available at big box home improvement stores in the drywall aisle.  It comes in 8,’  10′ & 12′ sections. 

Hint:  bring a pair of scissors to cut the lengths to get them into your vehicle!

Picks:   These are brush hair roller plastic picks available in packs of 100 at beauty supply stores.   

Scissors:    Kitchen shears or decent scissors.  Lesser scissors have been broken!

Pliers:    Optional.  If your hand strength is not good,  the pliers will be helpful.

You want pairs of rakes to go in both directions of your tray–  horizontally and vertically.  A close up of drywall bead!

Rakes need some “wiggle” room to complete some marbling moves.  If not the correct length, the plastic can be trimmed with scissors.

You want a pair of combs to go in both directions of the tray, also.  Combs should fit snugly inside the tray with hardly any “wiggle” room.

Cut four pairs of the white plastic lengths–  one long and one short to fit vertically & horizontally in your marbling tray. 

Any decent pair of scissors will should cut through the plastic drywall bead fairly easily.  

Start at an end & push a pick down through the coordinating top hole next to the bend and pull out through the bottom hole.  Use  pliers if necessary to help pull the pick through the holes.Hair pins!


Count 5 holes and repeat the process on the 6th hole.  Repeat all across both plastic lengths.  These are your wide rakes.

Choose a second pair of future rakes.  Repeat the process with only 3 holes between picks.  These are your medium rakes.

Choose a third pair and repeat the process with only 2 holes between picks.  You now have a small rake pair.

Select a fourth pair and repeat the process picking every hole.  These are your combs.

The last plastic length will wait for another time!

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5 Responses
  1. Nancy Akerly permalink
    May 9, 2010

    Thanks so much for the directions. In preparation for my class in September I already have the picks and the corner bead – you are a sweetheart to share the directions – it will save much experimentation time!

  2. Hui Lian permalink
    October 28, 2011

    Hi Pat,

    I have not used carageen for size in marbling as it is not easily available where I am living. I have tried sodium alginate, guar gum and methy cellulose. The sodium alginate is not very stable and gives me unreliable results. The guar gum works mostly ok but can cause the paint to smudge on the paper. The methy cellulose did not work at all. I am not sure what went wrong as the paints did not spread at all. I am looking for advise regarding the marbling size. Any pointers to share? Thanks in advance. =)

  3. March 29, 2013

    Hui – I started with carageen but since I can’t marble every day it just didn’t keep long enough to be practical for me. I switched to the methyl cellulose and haven’t looked back! A hint I got from Peggy Skycraft’s marbling DVD ( is plug the hole of a small funnel (that holds about 1/4 cup) with your finger, fill it with size, and then open the hole and let the size drain through. You should be able to count about 7-8 seconds before it’s completely drained through and then you know the size is the proper consistency. If thinning the paint with more water doesn’t get you the spread you need try adding a tiny bit of dispersant (this one is at Dharma Trading A little goes a long way, so go one drop at a time! Size can’t get too cold; you can add some hot water to bring the temperature up without thinning it too much. Good luck!

  4. March 30, 2013

    Wish I could learn to like methyl cellulose since carragheenan has gone up in price yet again. Tried a batch of it (again) & tossed it after 5 papers. Just really like the tight detailed patterns that can be made on the carragheenan size. Also had trouble rinsing off the methyl cell. Know many marblers that like the MC, but I just prefer the carragheenan for my marbling. Luckily there are at least a couple of viable choices!

  5. Annette permalink
    June 2, 2016

    Hey, thank you for this. I am looking for ways to make my own rakes. I will keep this saved to my desktop. It’s awesome! Thank you, again!

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