First and foremost, you might consider one of the wooden Swiss snaths from someone like One Scythe Revolution. But if trying to "fix" this notorious issue with the Scythe Supply stem, you can pre-drill and pin to keep it from loosening, or you can turn the hole into a rectangular mortise and tenon arrangement instead and make your own replacement stem/grip. Making your own grips is recommended for those snaths anyhow since the stock ones are ergonomically lacking compared to the Swiss snath.
Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Ah well, Yes hunts was looking to drive traffic to a linked site, so I thought it was a (thin) excuse to jump in.
I haven't seen newer Ontarios -- hope their quality control didn't slip. Mine are all oldies and have served very well in bushcraft type use. I would take them on a self-propelled trip in the North woods any time.
But to each his own. I'd love to take the well-respected brands you mention for a spin.
Yeah the old ones aren't my favorite vintage machetes (those'd be Collins) but they're quite solid. Not the least bit bad. The newer ones swapped phenolic scales for polypropylene and they did a poor job of copying the shape of the old handles. The old ones LOOK boxy but feel nice in the hand while the new ones FEEL boxy and have to be totally reworked in order to be comfortable. The full flat grind on the old ones is nice and deep and actually gives a notable improvement in cutting performance, while the new ones are so shallowly ground as to make the full flat grind essentially vestigial and meaningless, which leaves too much forward mass in the blade and makes it awkward and dead-feeling in the hand. The older ones are nice and lively.
Douglas Alpenstock wrote:I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Ontario machetes. I own four of them, two long and two short. Nice cutting profile, not too thick or thin, and nicely tempered high-carbon steel that takes a scary sharp and durable edge. Great for woody materials.
The only Cold Steel machete I bought was awful. I swear it was made from the door panel of an army truck. That does not apply to the Cold Steel Spetznaz-design shovel, which is an amazing mini tool for digging or chopping, and I own three.
I sharpened a Camillus Les Stroud machete for a friend a few weeks ago. Good steel, good heft and took a great edge, though the geometry is a bit more hatchet than knife.
I'm not personally much of a fan of the Ontario machetes. Ones from the 80's and earlier have more comfortable scales and a much better blade geometry with better, deeper primary grinds that lighten the blade up considerably. In economical machetes Imacasa is my top brand of choice, and Tramontina is a staple maker as well. Incolma/Gavilan is also a solid choice.
Hank Waltner wrote:So I should just sharpen with a course stone and work grits done until a fine edge
You'll need to bevel it, first, which (if using manual means) will be done fastest using a chainsaw file or half-round file, as I described above. The best edge for scythes is a coarse scratch pattern with a crisp apex, so use a coarse stone to do any initial honing and then chase it with a light pass of a fine stone just to crisp it up a little without erasing the toothiness of the edge given to it by the coarse stone.
Hank Waltner wrote:How do I know if I need to peen it or sharpen with a grind stone
Only continental European blades are peened. American, Nordic, and English blades are all heat treated hard, and are often of laminated construction. Peening would not only be likely to damage those blades, but if done on a laminated blade would result in the edge being comprised of soft cladding iron rather than the core edge steel.
You're looking for a 7-9° angle per side, which should result in a visual bevel width of about 1/4" on both sides. The tang angle will also need adjusting, which is best done using either an induction heater or an oxy-acetylene torch to heat the shank of the tang (the straight portion before the 90° elbow) and cranking the tang with the blade locked in a vise. When in mowing position (which is often a little lower than you think--mime a few strokes to settle into it) the edge should be riding about a finger's thickness off the ground.
It's an American blade. The tang will be flat from the factory and most vintage blades never had the tang angle properly adjusted as was intended. Because most of the lay adjustment with American scythes comes from the neck of the snath, it made more sense to sell the blades with the tang flat and have a local metalworker do the final adjustment. These days if you don't have the equipment to do the job yourself you can have a local machine shop or independent mechanic do it for you.
Hank Waltner wrote:I have two scythe blades but I’m new to scythes so ho can I tell the difference in America pattern and Europe pattern.
Here's a photo of a few global styles. Top is a Nordic (Norwegian) blade, below that is an English ("patent tang" riveted) blade, and American blade, and a continental European blade (Italian.) Bear in mind that there are lots of variations within the various global styles, but they broadly follow the appearance of these examples.
T Blankinship wrote:I found this Briar Edge by True Temper scythe blade at a antique store today. I was excited to find this blade. Any ideas on how to protect the blade from rust? Also the blade has what looks like black paint on it. Should I repaint the blade or not? The edge does need a little work on the beard.
Presuming you're going to be putting it to use, don't worry about rust removal--mowing will scrub and pickle all of the rust off of it in use. Briar Edge blades are whole steel construction so you should be able to use the draw-filing method with a chainsaw or half-round file to bevel it. You're looking for a 7-9° angle per side, which should result in a visual bevel width of about 1/4" on both sides. The tang angle will also need adjusting, which is best done using either an induction heater or an oxy-acetylene torch to heat the shank of the tang (the straight portion before the 90° elbow) and cranking the tang with the blade locked in a vise. When in mowing position (which is often a little lower than you think--mime a few strokes to settle into it) the edge should be riding about a finger's thickness off the ground.
The snath is a Seymour, either a No.1 or No.2 model. You can tell which it is by seeing if there are 3 holes in the heel plate or 4--if it has 4 holes arranged in a ᠅ shape it's a No.2 bush snath. The blade is a Swedish pattern one, and while I'm uncertain of the manufacturer who produced them for Craftsman, it was probably Igelfors Liefabrik as I've seen some Craftsman-marked blades that definitely used their tooling. Many of the Craftsman blades, including that one, have impression die forged tangs with a distinctive knob to them that's very unusual, it being forged in rather than being a simple upturn of the end of the tang. I would guess that both the snath and blade are probably of 1960's make, and almost certainly no earlier than the 1950's. The green blade has the appearance of a 1930's-1940's True Temper, though there are some other possible makers, and of course any tang markings would help clear that up.
For freehand grinding on a wheel I suggest having the wheel turn away from you and hold the blade at a roughly 45° oblique to the face of the wheel. The tension made by the friction against the wheel will help steady the blade in your hand, and the slanted approach both assists with clearance and minimizes the thickening effect of wobbling the edge on the wheel. Always view your angle as relative to the contact point rather than a fixed point in space that the wheel turns under.
Grass blades can generally handle sparse weeds and resistant stems no problem. The reason for choosing shorter/thicker blades is usually more to do with the density of those kinds of growth. Generally if you're dealing with mostly grass with some other kinds of growth in it, the grass blade is what you want. It's only if the bulk of what you're mowing is resistant weeds or woody suckers/canes that you'd want to move to a ditch blade or brush blade.
Kate Downham wrote:Has anyone here used a peening jig with a scythe? Or peened their scythe in another way?
I read that peening jigs are supposed to be more failproof than an anvil and hammer and wondered about getting one.
I was also wondering how often an Austrian scythe needs to be peened? Is it worth owning the gear to do this from the start, or is it fine to get it in a year or so? Or is it something a local blacksmith can do in a few minutes instead?
Freehanding gives overall better results, as the typical cap jig creates a poorly-blended bevel and mashes the edge against the central post. Practicing on thin sheet steel is a good method to get used to the process before trying it on an actual blade. Peening is typically needed after roughly 8 hours of continuous use, and so will be performed frequently. Setting the bevel the first time will always be the most time-consuming and doing some of the thinning with a file is often helpful rather than trying to peen the bevel in entirely.
Lina Joana wrote:Nice! Where do you find one like that?
They're my own design. I don't have many of the bell-shaped rings for Euro tangs on hand but the few I do have on hand are here. The straight-walled rings for American tangs and the heel plates are available in higher volume. I do plan on having a batch of the bell rings done up in the future, though.
Even when fully cranked down, the blade is still predisposed towards slipping out of its proper hang, so getting it clamped down tight is pretty important...
Second that! Just what happened to me: the blade was just a little loose, then hit some tough stems, and the blade came out of it seat and bent the ring. Very frustrating to have to wait for a replacement while the poison ivy takes over. I haven’t used any other models, but that is a weakness of this design - I wonder if there are other ways of attachment that would be sturdier?
This approach locks the blade completely in place. It does require the use of a heel plate for hang adjustment, but the blade will NOT move when clamped using one of these rings.
Dan Vernon wrote:You can literally put a mid-size flat tip screwdriver crossways in the square slot and get it off. No need to build a forge in the backyard to get your scythe blade off.
Literally no one said that was necessary. I was discussing how to make a new key to replace the lost one. It's very simple and doesn't require building a forge to make one. If just trying to get the blade off once a screwdriver will suffice. If planning on using the ring repeatedly having a proper key so you can really torque down on the set screws properly. Even when fully cranked down, the blade is still predisposed towards slipping out of its proper hang, so getting it clamped down tight is pretty important and a screwdriver will lack the torque to do the job well. You can limp along with that method, but having an actual wrench is better.
Benjamin Bouchard wrote:
As long as you have rudimentary tools it's possible to self-fabricate a square key pretty easily. Just heat and bend some rod stock and either forge or grind/file the end to the appropriate size.
Benjamin, I have no doubt that is true, but I do feel that needing rod stock and a forge to change a blade takes it out of the realm of "super easy" for most people! Maybe upgrade it to "moderately easy" in this crowd...
The most fundamental things you'd need are simply some rod stock from the local hardware store, a bench vise, a hammer, and a file (or any sort of grinder.) A propane hand torch would be preferable but not strictly necessary since you can probably still bend the rod as needed without the need of heat. It's just bending some rod 90° in a vise and filing or grinding one end to the properly sized square, and then you have a new key. Note that my choice of words was "pretty" easy.
Lina Joana wrote:I also got mine from scythe supply, so the measurements were up to them. I got their hybrid ditch blade, and have been quite pleased with it overall.
On their design, the blade is super easy to change, as long as you don’t lose the key for the ring, which is like a hex key, but square and not easily substituted. Important to keep around, because the blade can loosen a bit with use and weather changes. Sadly, I used it without tightening enough one day when I had misplaced the key. We have weeds that dry out in the winter to some of the toughest stalks I have come across, and in trying to cut them with a slightly loose blade, I managed to bend the ring. I’m sadly waiting 6-8 weeks for a new ring.
Regarding size, I do remember seeing some with adjustable handles. Might help
If you are between sizes.
I lost mine too and took the blade off with a flat tip screwdriver.
As long as you have rudimentary tools it's possible to self-fabricate a square key pretty easily. Just heat and bend some rod stock and either forge or grind/file the end to the appropriate size.
Benjamin Bouchard wrote:I come from American scythes as my chief focus so pardon me for using inches instead of centimetres, but typical grass blade length historically was between 26-32" with some haying blades going up to around 38" while grain, which is easier to cut, could be handled with blades a whopping 48" long as the standard. That may not be the best option for you though. As far as swapping blades out it's a simple process, though the manner in which the blade is fastened to the snath will vary a little depending on what specific hardware you're using.
Thank you - this has helped me to decide. The longest blade I can get is 90cm (35"), so it sounds like this would be a good choice for both hay and grain.
We consider long blade lengths to be 30 in/75 cm or more. At first glance it seems a longer blade cuts more area in less time. This is true when the scythe is in the hands of an experienced mower. For mowing large areas we find that most people are more successful with a 28 inch blade. This is particularly true for new mowers.
Long blades require very good mowing technique. Long blades create greater drag, so take more energy. Your swing has to be easy, light and smooth with a steady rhythm. You have to make use of your upper body mass to help carry the blade through the grass. The blade has to slice. If you force the blade, especially in heavy, dense stands of grass, the blade won't cut well. It catches in the grass so instead of a smooth, flowing stroke the scythe moves with a jerky motion. The mower tires very quickly and little grass is cut. Large areas often are more efficiently mown with a shorter blade; 24” to 28” are good lengths. Bear in mind, most people are not going to mow an acre a day. Most mowers will harvest only a small portion of that area at a time so a shorter blade suits the conditions better.
It is true that anyone can learn to scythe with what ever length blade they choose. After many years of helping people learn to mow we have found it is best for new mowers to learn on blades shorter than 30 in/75 cm.
Maybe 75cm would be a better choice for a beginner?
Blades in excess of 30" require skillful use, but I find that a 30" blade is a solid sweet-spot for all-purpose mowing. The blade length encourages good edge engagement rather than hacking.
I come from American scythes as my chief focus so pardon me for using inches instead of centimetres, but typical grass blade length historically was between 26-32" with some haying blades going up to around 38" while grain, which is easier to cut, could be handled with blades a whopping 48" long as the standard. That may not be the best option for you though. As far as swapping blades out it's a simple process, though the manner in which the blade is fastened to the snath will vary a little depending on what specific hardware you're using.
Gordon Haverland wrote:Most of what I know about scythes (which is nowhere near enough) is specific to the Austrian style scythe that I bought (made in Vermont I believe).
The irons and steels used in agriculture, are seldom anywhere near the best they could be. My basic university degree is metallurgical engineering (but even then, I had options in ceramics). So, I nominally call it materials science and engineering because I also have a lot of wood, cement and organic chemistry added on top of things since.
I sort of grew up with farm equipment (not necessarily the farming), and I have done a little blacksmithing. But I have never attempted to forge a blade. I do understand why some steels are peened before sharpening. I never studied the steels in American scythes.
Off the top of my head, I would think a hadfield steel (high in manganese, high work-hardening) might work for blades like scythes, but they would probably rust away fast to. I haven't heard of any kind of scythe making use of a steel that had boron in it.
A Damascus steel would probably work wonderfully for a scythe, but the chemistry and labour of those steels is high.
But, thanks a lot for your comment. It probably will help a lot of people.
The two biggest hazards I seem to be putting my blade to, are seedlings that are too thick, and ant hills.
Damascus would have zero benefits, and American, English, and Nordic blades were traditionally made with laminated construction. The steels commonly used for scythes of any variety are typically 1080 or equivalent, but mostly vary in their heat treatment, with Euro-style tensioned blades typically being tempered all the way down to around 45 RC, while American blades are typically 52-58 RC, and some being up around 60 RC. Typically it's the laminated examples that have the highest hardness, but one does sometimes come across whole-steel blades that are run very hard. It's important to be aware that the hardness from work-hardening with soft Euro blades that are peened are only gaining additional resistance to plastic deformation at the expense of ductility, so while edge stability will be increased compared to an unpeened edge on the same blade, it will not increase the wear resistance of the steel. American, English, and Nordic blades derive their hardness from their heat treatment preserving a larger quantity of wear-resistant martensite in the steel, with less of it having been dissolved into softer pearlite during tempering. This is why these blades take and hold such a keen and stable edge and only require re-beveling work a few times a season.
Gordon Haverland wrote:I'm reading a thread about someone who bought a scythe, and got injured.
All work on "the farm" is exercise. A new exercise takes time to adjust to. Time is something like 6 weeks in general.
There are 2 kinds of scythes: American (USA) and Austrian (European).
The American Scythes are much heavier than the Austrian scythes.
If the only things you will be cutting are grasses, you can get by with a very thin blade. If you "might" need to cut bigger things, get a thicker blade. If you might be cutting seedling trees, get a bushcutter blade.
Cutting with a scythe is like dancing well with a partner; it will take time to learn. Start with small areas and no pressure to get things done. The object is to learn the rhythm.
Cutting on significant slopes is different from cutting on "level" ground.
How hard you work in cutting anything with a scythe, depends on how sharp the edge is. If you think you are working too hard, it probably means your edge isn't sharp enough.
In a sense, scythes are like chisels. You really want them to be "scary sharp".
Learning how to make a blade in good shape "scary sharp" will take practice.
A blade that is not in good shape, needs to "peened". At some point all scythe blades need to be peened, to "expose" a new "edge" which "only" needs sharpeningl
There are competitions for using a scythe. It is unlikely that any of us will get close to what they can cut.
I have an interest in "hedge" (Osage-orange). It was apparently not uncommon for a farmer on the Great Plains to "prune" 750 feet of Osage-orange hedge in a day. And I will guess that is an American scythe.
With my poor ability with an Austrian scythe now, I don't know if I could deal with 750 feet of dandelion in a day. Let alone 750 feet of the hardest wood native to North America.
If people could add links to good examples on using and sharpening scythes; that would be wonderful.
(Of course, maybe they have; and I missed it.)
Peening is only done to continental European-style scythes, and should be avoided with American, English, or Nordic blades, as they are harder steel, and often of laminated construction, and peening can cause the edge either to crack (with "whole steel" blades) or cause the edge to be comprised of soft cladding iron (in the case of laminated blades.) Also, while the average weight for American scythes is higher than that for European ones, the lightest American scythes are a good deal lighter than the heaviest Euro ones, and it's actually of benefit to have a certain amount of mass in the tool--a light too is easier to start, but also easier for the vegetation to stop! Neither too heavy nor too light is the way to go, and context of use determines optimum weight. Due to historical context a lot of American snaths did end up being severely overbuilt, but that's fixable--just shave it down to proper dimensions, and resize the nib bands accordingly. Beveling American scythes typically only needs to be done 1-3 times a season, depending on how much you're cutting and how good you are at not damaging your edge.
T Blankinship wrote:As someone who is new to using a scythe. I found the best part of the kit was The Scythe Book by David Tresemer. I think any kit one buys, it must have good instruction and good customer service. I got my kit from Scythe Supply and have had my scythe about a year now. I use a European style scythe and I like it.
Be sure to take The Scythe Book with an enormous rock crystal of salt. The man (Tresemer) owned a business, Hand and Foot Ltd., that imported and sold Austrian scythes, and The Scythe Book was written as something of a printed infomercial for them. The information about the American scythe, in particular, is rife with outright falsehoods that the author himself was well aware of, given his bibliography. Even the info for the Austrian scythe has a bunch of errors in it that Peter Vido later tried to correct or address, but even so it is still a flawed document. Consider it about as reputable as a Wikipedia page on an obscure subject; it's a good jumping off point in your initial research, but should not be taken as a starting point rather than an authoritative or exhaustive source. For European scythes I'd suggest Peter Vido's "The Big Book of the Scythe" , and for American scythes, my own writings on the subject. Peter is unfortunately no longer with us, but neither his nor my own writing are infallible, either, but Peter tried his very best to put quality instructional resources into the world, and so am I. There are a number of things I need to update and much much more I have yet to write down, but it'll get there eventually.
Brian Vraken wrote:Benjamin: Since you are in here anyways, how unreasonable would it be to use the No. 8 Aluminum snath as a taller guy (6'0")?
It works fine, though it's the upper limit of what I'd consider a sound match. Just gotta' have your tang angle set appropriately for your height. Ideally you adjust the nibs so the lower is at your hip joint and the upper is above it by a cubit measure, but you want a few inches for the heel of your palm to brace against, so for folks who max out the length on standard-length American snaths I suggest that they set the upper nib first, to its maximum position with the required amount extending for the palm, then set the lower nib DOWN from there by your cubit measure, and take up the slack in the tang angle adjustment. When used this way your nib rotation will be a bit more upward than it would be for folks of more conventional tuning.
Marugg states on their site that they're not currently accepting orders, and I suspect they're not long for this world.
I'd personally suggest that whichever rig you go for, just make sure it's of the highest quality you can afford. I'd further caution that the Scythe Supply unit has fixed position grips, which means you'll be stuck with whatever measurements you provide them, and they're somewhat notorious for having the grips come loose. Resalability if you find you don't care for it is difficult because of the fixed sizing. Unfortunately, regardless of type, shipping is a costly thing due to the size of the tool. At some point in the future I hope to have a two-part breakdown snath available but it's going to take a while to make that one a reality due to sourcing the hardware I'd need for the junction.
The funny thing about a closed hang is that depending on your stroke, dimensions, and the particular curve of your blade, it's possible to accidentally set the blade so closed that part or even all of the blade ends up trailing during the cut, so the edge is actually moving away from the grass! So definitely, for some units and users, a more open hang will give the best results, even if you're looking for a fairly shallow swath!
Judith Browning wrote:
Calab, Thanks! What I have is a ditch blade. I knew I would rarely be cutting just grass. I doubt I ever cut anything heavier than what I am now so maybe it's good enough and one day I'll get a grass blade also. Are you mowing pasture? My husband was the scythe person on our old farm until his back surgery. He has an American scythe that worked well for him but size wise did not for me. (and we did not have Benjamin's expertise to call on back then) This was back before we were connected to the internet so I had no other advice and always thought it was something I would never be able to do. That is making it doubly enjoyable now
Judith, I'm mowing what my wife and I have agreed to call "yard" versus "lawn". The yard might as well be pasture at this point, but I've just about gotten caught up now. Finally had some applicants and hired two. I get a day off once a week now! Some parts of the yard were thin but tall, and our south slope is thick and tall. It is a real workout even though the blade is sharp and cutting well. It's a lot of grass to move into a windrow. I started with a 30" American pattern grass blade on an old snath I cleaned up. It was an American Pattern wooden snath my grandfather had in one of the barns for an unknown number of decades. I never quite got the feel for it and ordered a new snath from Scythe Supply. Game changer. Getting into the heavier grass with the 30" blade was getting to be too much so I ordered a 26" grass blade and it was as much a game changer as the new snath was.
My desire is to mow the yard areas with the scythe when they get mid shin to knee high and try laying it up for hay mulch this fall. I bought Ian Miller's Scything Handbook and want to try a few things from it if I get the chance this year. If not, then next year.
You may actually find that a heavier blade works better in those mowing conditions. Another way to mimic this would be attaching a weight to the business end of the snath. Most of the work in a stroke isn't in the cutting, but rather in the carrying of the cut material into the windrow. That means the start of the stroke requires the least amount of energy input while the end of the stroke requires the most. A heavier blade/snath is slower to start, but the excess energy is stored as inertia that can be expended at the end of the stroke, and so it evens out how much effort your body has to put into the stroke at any given point along it. This is one of the several reasons I prefer my American scythes in most contexts of use. For general purpose mowing I find a light snath with a 30" grass blade weighing 1lb 8oz to 1lb 12oz to be ideal. Once you learn how to work with the weight rather than against it, it makes mowing heavy vegetation much more pleasant.
Caleb Mayfield wrote:Great to hear! I love mine as well. What I've noticed on mine is it will dull quickly when it needs to be peened again. The peening work hardens the edge steel and over the course of dressing the edge with stones you eventually wear through the hard layer. Being soft it gets dull much faster.
I'm currently mowing grasses that are "overgrown" and possibly too heavy for my blade, but the ditch and brush blades are heavier and more work to swing. My recommendation is to use the grass blade and take smaller bites as needed. If you take a slice and the blade stops on a thicker patch, either touch up the blade or take another light slice at it, just don't try to force the blade through. That is exhausting. If you are getting into real stalky/woody/stemmy stuff then a ditch blade might not be a bad idea.
Some elaboration here. Peening does increase the hardness of the steel a bit, but doesn't increase resistance to abrasive wear. It increases the hardness by disrupting the crystal lattice of the steel rather than fundamentally changing its phase. So what it's doing is causing a reduction in ductility and increasing resistance to plastic deformation. Dulling occurs in two primary modes: abrasive wear and plastic deformation. So the hardness helps keep the otherwise very soft steel of Euro blades (typically about 45 Rockwell C hardness, which is as soft as a common hardware store axe) from being so prone to rolling and deforming as it otherwise would. That does increase edge retention, but it's not going to change how the edge responds to, for instance, cutting grasses that are high in silica, accidentally hitting dirt/anthills, and so on. Basically the chief advantage of the work hardening is in increasing the edge stability. But the primary reason to peen is because it thins the geometry immediately behind the edge, allowing it to cut easier with less "wedging" force. The closer to the apex of the edge you get, the greater the order of magnitude by which the geometry affects cutting performance. So while the very edge itself imparts the greatest degree of influence by far, the thickness of the edge right behind it still matters a lot. This thickens up over repeated honing, and is the big reason why frequent peening is so important. It maintains a thin and penetrating cutting geometry. The fact that it also work hardens the edge is kind of just a bonus because they made the blade soft and thin enough to make peening easier. It's kind of an inter-related system of factors, but the largest reason for it all is maintaining a thin geometry. :)
I have always dreaded mowing, especially when we had a gas push. Now we have a great electric but still we have to wait for the grass to dry to mow and to bag especially. I never minded the pushing, just the heat of the day.
With this scythe I can get out at my favorite time of day, dawn! and mow barefoot if I like.
I'm finally getting it well sharpened to no reflection on the apex and it's cutting nice although still a little like a bad haircut sometimes.
I might be pushing this blades limit and should get a brush blade also? I'm cutting mostly grasses but there are some stemy, almost but not quite woody things mixed in.
I don't understand what to look for to tell when it needs peening again though? Will it just cut less well?
Thick stemmed weeds shouldn't be a problem. As far as peening goes, a rule of thumb is to do it every ~8 hours worth of use. You'll notice it needs it when touching it up with the stone no longer brings it back to the same level of cutting ease it had when freshly peened. If good and sharp, a lazy stroke on fairly short grass should cut clean.
Adjusting your tang angle will likely help, as well. Users of average height using aluminum snaths will typically need a tang angle of about 15° to get the edge to lay the proper finger's thickness off the ground in use. You may find this blog post of mine helpful. If you don't have the tools/confidence for doing the job yourself, a local metalworker can do the job pretty easily. Just find an independent auto mechanic, machine shop, blacksmith, or anyone else who might have an oxy-acetylene torch or mini induction heater. Basically any mechanic will have a torch, and many of them will have induction heaters, since the handheld units like I use were developed for heating rusted automotive bolts so they could be loosened.
Barbara Kochan wrote:It is a lot of extra work for me to use my scythe due to the length of the snath vs the length of my legs. It seems the wood handles on the aluminum snath would move, as they're held on with nuts and bolts, but I am afraid to damage the handles (the nuts are sunk into the wood, thus no ready way to turn the nut). Reading this thread makes me think I should just go for it. Would love to post a pic, but I am away from my scythe for a few days. It is a Seymour SN-9
The nibs (side handles) are a traditional twist-to-tighten configuration, and run on a left-handed thread. Turn the wooden grip piece clockwise ("right") to loosen and counterclockwise ("left") to tighten. They may be seized on their tight, so some rubber jaw pads in a vise will allow you to clamp the grip in the jaws and then use the snath as a lever (push the working end of the snath down--or clockwise--as if the whole snath is rotating around the grip like it's an axle) to break it free. Once loosened you can then slide the nib up or down the length and re-fasten it with firm hand pressure. Also, the retaining bolt for the heel plate on those is installed upside down at the factory. The nut should be on top, not on the heel plate side. Just unscrew it and reverse the direction of the machine screw.
I had to go try to vary the 'slicing action'...got it and I see where even before I do anything different sharpening that makes a big difference.
'Setting a coarse scratch pattern' .....both sides of blade or just on the beveled side?
I keep forgetting to ask, just what is a 'whipping stick'? aluminum?, leather? wood?
Both sides of the blade. When sharpening the backside of a Euro blade you'll be running the stone so it's parallel with the flat region behind the edge apex. It'll be almost dead flat on the back. A whipping stick is just a wooden stick used like a strop to catch and draw out any micro mis-alignments of the edge so you have a crisp apex. A dowel can be used, but I prefer a piece of 1/2"x2" pine sanded to a slightly oval cross section since it gets better contact area.
Certain grasses are soft and tender, and almost "rubbery" in texture, some are firm but juicy, like a hard, ripe grape. Either of these types cut easily with a polished edge. Other grasses are more springy, dry, or waxy. These grasses tend to cut best with a toothy edge that more readily bites into the slippery surface of the "hard" grasses, but a crisp apex is always needed, and a more exaggerated slicing action may be needed as well. After setting a coarse scratch pattern, chase it with a light pass or two from a fine stone, then a whipping stick. Then focus on getting a good slicing action. The dry grasses shouldn't be much of an issue if you follow those guidelines, but they can be frustrating otherwise.
Judith Browning wrote:My new stones are here...and yes, the coarse one made all the difference.
Only one band aid later and I have my scythe cutting so much nicer
I am surprised how smoothly so many grasses cut but not bermuda grass. It is about a foot tall in places and the blade just does not slice through it as neatly as Johnson grass and chicory and clover.
I also think I over peened in the end and ended up with a more fragile edge after sharpening that cut well but soon had a lot of 'bur' along the edge...sharpened some more and now it seems fine.
Now I've sharpened my sickle also, no peening. This is the year of lush growth here with so much rain. It seems like all we are doing is 'chop and drop' over and over...sharp tools keep my shoulder from hurting.
I would like to order two from your site....a coarse one and something even finer than my 'medium' one from scythe supply that came with the 'kit' that is now called 'the dragon stone' but was called a Bregenzer stone https://scythesupply.com/equipment.html#dragon-stone suggestions?
The Manticore is excellent for restoring the edge after jig peening, as well as for rapid corrections of damage out in the field. The Arctic Fox is the finest of our stones. :)