baseball field nail drag and bolt drag

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Baseball Field Nail Drag and Bolt Drag - Their Place in Your Arsenal of Tools.

tractor pulling nail drag and tools

David in Louisiana writes:

I wanted to ask you about baseball field drags. 

I hear about drags having nails and bolts. I hear some say don't use dull bolts - make sure you have something sharp.

What do you think about all that from experience? After reading about not using the bolts I thought about taking them out and grinding them sharp thinking that would help.

Appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

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Hello David,

Both a baseball field nail drag and bolt drag have a place in your arsenal of field maintenance tools.

The drag with the bolts, or what some people would call a spike drag, is great for breaking up hardened surfaces or disintegrating small weed seedling starting to pop up. Often the bolt drag is heavier and is intended to break up the surface a bit deeper than a nail drag.

bolt drag for a baseball field

I have a spike drag that is a rectangular metal frame about 4 feet wide and 3 feet long with three rows of bolts alternating where they come down on the ground. If needed I put my nail drag on top of the spike drag for additional weight to sink the bolts down into the baseball dirt a bit more.

The spike drag is good for dragging in spirals around the baseball or softball infield to also level it out a bit. My spike drag can be flipped over, bolts up, so the smooth flat metal then drags and moves dirt to level as needed. This drag is heavy and must be pulled by a riding mower or tractor. No way you would hand drag with this.

The spike drag or bolt drag is not intended to be your final grooming, but if needed, the field is still quite playable. I use my spike drag about once every month or so on the baseball and softball fields.

On the other hand a nail drag is used more often.

Like its name implies it is usually a wood frame with a series of rows of nails sticking out. Usually 4 inch nails through a 2x4 so about an inch of nail sticks out. Too much sticking out results in nails bending over. Not good. This drag is used more to scarify the surface and can be your final grooming. You can also finish it off with a metal mesh drag.

nail drag with bolt drag on top

Nail drags work best if the ground is not too hard. You want to rough up the surface only, not dig way in with a nail drag. If the surface is quite hard, then use a bolt drag with weights first to dig it up a bit, followed by the nail drag.

You should not have to put weight very often on the drag with nails. If you do the nails will bend and not work as well. Nails really only need to stick out of the wood by a half inch for it to work. Nail drags are great for working soil conditioner such as calcined clay into the top inch of your baseball dirt.

nail drag schematic

My nail drag is about 5 feet wide by 3 feet. It is too heavy to pull by hand. I pull my baseball field nail drag and bolt drag with a tractor. It has wheels on the reverse side so I can flip it over and pull it from the storage bin to the complex of four basebal and softball fields. I sometimes lay the spike drag on top to haul it to the fields also.

nail dragging a baseball infield

I'm sure you'll read or hear about many variations of this. Try to see what works best for you and understand the pros/cons and uses or each.

I wouldn't discount any idea until you prove it unworkable for you.

And here is a picture of a heavy duty spike and leveling attachment used by a tractor to get a softball field ready for the spring.  This is good for digging up the dirt, removing weeds, and leveling it.  Definitely have to follow use of this with the bolt, nail, and metal mesh drag to get a proper playing surface.

spike drag attachment on a tractor

Yours for better play more often,

J. Reiner

Jim Reiner
Publisher, Editor, & Groundskeeper
The Ultimate Baseball Field Renovation Guide


Jim Reiner Jim Reiner was a groundskeeper with the Texas Rangers AAA team and has been involved with baseball his entire adult life.  He devotes his efforts to training coaches, players, and parents of all levels of youth baseball and softball to use their existing field and turn it into a safe, high performance field. Jim's website has been online since 2006 helping hundreds of thousands from little league to pro baseball improve their ball fields. 

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