Throw Away Your Weedwhacker on Your Straw Bale Build

Written by Andrew Morrison

two men holding invention

Throw away your weedwhacker on your straw bale build! For years now I have been using a weedwhacker to smooth the walls of every straw bale house I have built. But no more!  From now on, I plan to use this cool invention created at my last workshop here in Jacksonville.

Here’s the history. Several workshops ago, a man name Frank came up with a cool little rasp made out of blood lath and a piece of 2×4. He used it to clean up the straw in the back of the niche he had created in the wall. It worked very well and then when I presented the idea to several workshop participants at the September workshop, a couple guys took the idea and ran. In the picture above you can see the little rasp has turned into a full size tool! By using a long piece of 2×6 and a section of blood lath, Ryan and Will made a full size rasp that cleaned the walls better than any weed whacker and many times faster!

The coolest thing about the rasp is that it is long enough to create a flat wall using the posts and window framing as a guide. A little shaking and shimmying and the wall is clean! Thanks to Frank, Ryan and Will for their great ideas. It has changed how I clean bale walls for sure.

When you make yours, be sure to fold the edges of the blood lath over so no cut ends are exposed. The cut ends can rip you up. Ryan mentioned using leather around the edges to wrap the lath safely. Handles on the back of the 2×6 were made out of scrap 2×4, but a better, long term design would incorporate more comfortable handles. Have fun!

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7 Responses

  1. What is ‘blood lath’? Presumably a term well known in the US but not to an Englishman in France!

    i looked into this a while back and think its called expanded metal lath or diamond mesh in the UK, used by plasters. i’d already used a wood carving attachment on an angle grinder for the trimming job but will experiment with lath next time.

  2. Hi Dan. Blood lath is in fact what you think, plaster lath or expanded diamond lath. Very sharp, thus the blood lath name. It worked really well indeed.

  3. There is no way to find any expanded metal lath in my country. Do you have any other suggestion for this lath ?

    Thank you.

  4. I would stick with a weedwhacker for the shaping. In terms of the lack of lath for the rest of the house, I would suggest burlap. It will need to be really well packed and stretched really tight for it to work. If it is loose, the plaster will fail.

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