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Just ordered my first scythe

 
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Nothing much more to add, just that I'm very excited to be taking the leap.  The idea of a scythe has appealed to me for a long time, but I didn't really need one until now.  I ordered a setup from Scythe Supply with a ditch blade.  I have pretty large areas of bramble and weeds that will be waist high soon if I don't cut them and I don't have a way of clearing large areas of rougher stuff than grass.  The only drawback is that shipping is 4-6 weeks out according to the website.  Either way, I'm excited to get started.
 
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Great! I hope you get good use from yours. I'm a couple years into scything now and I find it to be a great tool. I need to get out and cut down a bunch of blackberries in the next week or 2. In a month or so I plan to scythe about 1.5 acres of old pasture grass. I'm still learning how to use mine but getting better each year. Good luck with yours!
 
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I got a scythe from them last year and was pleased with the quality. Do they still send the 'scythe book' by David Tresemer? I would recommend reading the use and care section before getting started. The history in the beginning of the book is interesting, but can be skipped. If you seem too sore or tired, something with your technique likely needs tweaked or the blade sharpened. Have fun learning to use this great tool.
 
Trace Oswald
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Justin Gerardot wrote:I got a scythe from them last year and was pleased with the quality. Do they still send the 'scythe book' by David Tresemer? I would recommend reading the use and care section before getting started. The history in the beginning of the book is interesting, but can be skipped. If you seem too sore or tired, something with your technique likely needs tweaked or the blade sharpened. Have fun learning to use this great tool.



Thanks Justin. I'm sure I'll have questions once I try it out. I don't know if I get a book with it or not. If not, I'll be youtubing everything.
 
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Hi Trace,

I am asking this just out of pure curiosity:  are you getting the scythe as a way to ditch gas, or do you see a scythe as a fundamentally better way to cut grass.

Also, I am really curious to know how the scythe goes through woody debris.  

Eric
 
Trace Oswald
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Eric Hanson wrote:Hi Trace,

I am asking this just out of pure curiosity:  are you getting the scythe as a way to ditch gas, or do you see a scythe as a fundamentally better way to cut grass.

Also, I am really curious to know how the scythe goes through woody debris.  

Eric



Several reasons Eric.  I'm tired of gas engines that won't start after sitting all winter.  I'm tired of the noise and the smell.  I have areas that a lawn mower can't get to easily, or at all.  I like being outside and enjoying the sights and sounds and smells, and a scythe seems more in line with that.  I'm striving more and more towards self-sufficiency and a scythe seems a step towards that.  I like the idea of cutting the taller areas into long pieces of material for mulch, rather than having small, mowed pieces that will break down more quickly.

We still have a "lawn" of sorts and that will still be mowed with a mower so that I have grass clippings that will break down more quickly for covering gardens and such.
 
Eric Hanson
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Trace,

Awesome!  I had a feeling that you were leaning to the green side of that question.  I have trended away from 2-cycle gas myself lately, though I am using batteries instead.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of the manual usage, but my back has been telling me “NO” for some times—old injuries from youth coming back to haunt me.  Specifically, I have a gas trimmer and chainsaw that have gone a couple of years without usage thanks to battery powered counterparts.

Eric
 
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I just ordered an outfit from Scythe Supply too - I'm pumped! The kit does come with The Scythe Book. I'm glad to know it's worth reading.

Any suggestions for a short-term non-gas tool to use on to cut dead winter wheat while I wait? I should have ordered months ago!
 
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Eric Hanson wrote:Hi Trace,

I am asking this just out of pure curiosity:  are you getting the scythe as a way to ditch gas, or do you see a scythe as a fundamentally better way to cut grass.

Also, I am really curious to know how the scythe goes through woody debris.  

Eric



I did it for a little bit of both reasons, and also i harvest all my grass for mulch/compost and i like it better in the form a scythe leaves it. it replaces a mower, string trimmer, plus has other benefits. as for woody material, it can take some pretty big size stuff out. here's a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z71gl4wQ4fw&t=14s of some tree trimming. some considerations though: the way you have the bevel set up on the blade makes a huge difference, if you are mowing grass you want to have it very thin, and I wouldn't cut thick woody stuff with it that thin or it will tear. I usually do my more intense trimming after I have used/honed quite a bit and the scythe is getting ready to be needing to be peened, so the edge is much thicker and will withstand that kind of abuse better. but as far as stacking functions and permaculture goes, i think you really cant go wrong with the scythe, it can replace so many tools.
 
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Erica Colmenares wrote:I just ordered an outfit from Scythe Supply too - I'm pumped! The kit does come with The Scythe Book. I'm glad to know it's worth reading.

Any suggestions for a short-term non-gas tool to use on to cut dead winter wheat while I wait? I should have ordered months ago!



Hey i'm near nashville as well! Don't have a good suggestion for you on the wheat thing, what exactly are you trying to accomplish with it? but wanted to drop in and say hey! Don't know any other folks around yet that are into scythes.
 
Erica Colmenares
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We're in an apartment in the Bellevue area of Nashville now, but our place is west of town. I'm camping out there now, but will message you when I am back home.

As for the tool, I mostly want something to help while I'm waiting for the scythe, but since the turkeys have eaten most of the cover crop seed, it's no longer emergent.  
 
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Erica Colmenares wrote:We're in an apartment in the Bellevue area of Nashville now, but our place is west of town. I'm camping out there now, but will message you when I am back home.

As for the tool, I mostly want something to help while I'm waiting for the scythe, but since the turkeys have eaten most of the cover crop seed, it's no longer emergent.  



The deer have been eating everything of mine so I feel you there. I'm in Goodlettsville, would love to meet some fellow permies and nerd out about scythes! We are mostly just hobby gardeners, feel free to shoot me a purple moosage or whatever if you feel like meeting up at some point, my wife and I would love to check out some farms too, we are thinking about getting more land at some point in the future.
 
Trace Oswald
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Just got notification that my scythe has shipped.  I'm very excited to try it.

Feel free to post any beginner's tips anyone has.
 
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This is my second year using my scythe and I just ordered another stone and a 28" TOPS blade to supplement my 26" grass blade. The biggest tip I have is to slow down. I still have to tell myself that. I could cut grass with my scythe and wear myself out in short order, then I realized I was fighting the scythe on both ends of the stroke. I felt like I was trying to really push it forward into the swing then pull it back to stop it at the end. This spring I recognized exactly what was going on and slowed myself down. It made a WORLD of difference in the overall experience. It will take time to settle into a technique that really fits you, but when you find it and you get the timing down on the swing it's really an enjoyable, meditative time.

So start slow. Practice the stroke. Build the muscle memory. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
 
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...and keep it super super sharp! beyond what you think of as sharp

I started last fallfall of 2018 (time flies) with dry, stemmier grasses and impossible bermuda grass...not the best to relax and learn on.

But my late winter cover crops were a joy! winter peas and oats....and the assorted tall yard grasses and weeds have been great to cut also, even with some stemmier stuff in the mix.  

We have neighbors now, after forty years back in the woods and I'm still getting used to folks misreading our efforts here.  I finally got confident enough and good enough to scythe what is an unused grassy 'alley' between us and the neighbor that we had always mowed with our electric mower...apparently the neighbor decided that we were desperate because this poor seventy year old woman was out with a scythe at six in the morning and next thing we knew he scalped the grass with his noisy gas mower....all straightened out now but if you are visible to the world you might have some misinterpretations.....

I did get a second blade, called a 'garden' blade but have not used it much at all and after reading about the Tops blades I might be tempted to get one of them.  What I have on it now is a ditch blade.

Be sure and tighten and retighten the screws in the ring that holds the blade on...they take a lot of additional tightening early on.

John Todd, Caleb and Benjamin gave wonderful advice in my scythe thread https://permies.com/t/94640/scythes/scythe-arrived



 
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Judith Browning wrote:
I did get a second blade, called a 'garden' blade but have not used it much at all and after reading about the Tops blades I might be tempted to get one of them.  What I have on it now is a ditch blade.





Judith, I have one of the "Garden" blades from Scythe Supply and it is a great blade for picking out heavier stuff. It is definitely not a mowing blade. I use mine only a couple times a year to clip the woody stuff that I am concerned might damage my grass blade. We have bush honeysuckle that will take over if not kept in check. The Garden blade is what I've used on that and I have a feeling it will do well on the wild blackberries that have sprung up by one of our barns.
 
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I just got my first scythe from Scythe Supply, and am a bit disappointed. The collar is very loose; it twists around on the snath and torques the blade when I tighten it down. It actually forces the blade into the "wrong" open angle they warn you against, in spite of my best efforts to hold the blade at the correct angle. I've sent an email, we'll see what they say about it.
 
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Barbara Carter wrote:I just got my first scythe from Scythe Supply, and am a bit disappointed. The collar is very loose; it twists around on the snath and torques the blade when I tighten it down. It actually forces the blade into the "wrong" open angle they warn you against, in spite of my best efforts to hold the blade at the correct angle. I've sent an email, we'll see what they say about it.



I was advised to tighten the ring that holds the blade onto the snath by alternating back and forth, screw to screw until tight and to do the same when  loosening.   Also, to take the tool along in the field and tighten periodically in the beginning especially with the new snath, as it takes awhile to 'set' the 'tang'? into the wood securely.  

I do remember when I first began, what you mention about the blade moving while tightening...a wedge was suggested I think but I found with time that was not a problem.  Just carefully reposition as you tighten...even open a bit from where you would like the angle as tightening seems to pull towards the closed position.   I used the more closed position for a long time because they suggested it but experimented and found a more open position cut even better for my purposes.

Again, it is very important to check the tightness of the ring a lot in the beginning as you can do damage to parts by letting things get too loose.

 
Trace Oswald
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Judith Browning wrote:

Barbara Carter wrote:I just got my first scythe from Scythe Supply, and am a bit disappointed. The collar is very loose; it twists around on the snath and torques the blade when I tighten it down. It actually forces the blade into the "wrong" open angle they warn you against, in spite of my best efforts to hold the blade at the correct angle. I've sent an email, we'll see what they say about it.



I was advised to tighten the ring onto the blade by alternating back and forth, screw to screw until tight and to do the same when  loosening.   Also, to take the tool along in the field and tighten periodically in the beginning especially with the new snath, as it takes awhile to 'set' the 'tang'? into the wood securely.  

I do remember when I first began, what you mention about the blade moving while tightening...a wedge was suggested I think but I found with time that was not a problem.  Just carefully reposition as you tighten...even open a bit from where you would like the angle as tightening seems to pull towards the closed position.   I used the more closed position for a long time because they suggested it but experimented and found a more open position cut even better for my purposes.

Again, it is very important to check the tightness of the ring a lot in the beginning as you can do damage to parts by letting things get too loose.



I got mine yesterday, and haven't had a chance to use it yet but I did install the ring.  I did just what you suggested.  I just tightened each screw a bit, re-positioned it, tightened a little more.  I think I have it where I want it.  I pretty much put it straight up to see how that works.  It seems like, as you said, after doing it a few times the tang will indent the handle a little so it will sit better.

I can't wait to try it out.



 
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Barbara Carter wrote:I just got my first scythe from Scythe Supply, and am a bit disappointed. The collar is very loose; it twists around on the snath and torques the blade when I tighten it down. It actually forces the blade into the "wrong" open angle they warn you against, in spite of my best efforts to hold the blade at the correct angle. I've sent an email, we'll see what they say about it.



Shifting when everything is new is normal. There is some spring in the metal of the collar and the wood in the snath that needs to essentially be stretched and compressed out of the parts until they settle in. It took me a few weeks of use for 30-45 minutes about 3 times a week to get it settled in and now I just have to snug up the collar before I go to work.

One thing that I know I didn't realize when I started and was fighting the blade angle on was just how tight to tighten the collar. How tight? As tight as you can make it with the key they provide, alternating between the screws until you think you can't tighten them any more or are starting to bend the key.
 
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Barbara Carter wrote:I just got my first scythe from Scythe Supply, and am a bit disappointed. The collar is very loose; it twists around on the snath and torques the blade when I tighten it down. It actually forces the blade into the "wrong" open angle they warn you against, in spite of my best efforts to hold the blade at the correct angle. I've sent an email, we'll see what they say about it.



I have had this problem as well, so what I like to do is get everything tight enough on both screws that you can still just barely move the blade, then put the blade in the correct position, then tighten each screw a quarter turn at a time alternating between each screw each time.not a big fan of the square key they send, or the snath. i reccomend the smaller rings from one scythe revolution, they are a regular hex key and the screws are in a diagonal arrangement instead of one on top of the other, which helps. also the construction is much nicer, not sure about yours but mine from them had spotty welds, and a lot of burrs on all the parts like they didn't take the time to finish them correctly.
 
Trace Oswald
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A cautionary tale. I used my scythe for the first time today. I think I will pick it up pretty quickly, and I can already mow with it. My technique definitely needs work. The warning though: Be very careful when sharpening the blade. My hand slipped when I was doing it and I cut the tip of my ring finger off. It happened so fast, it took me a couple seconds to realize what I had done. I didn't cut a lot off, less than a quarter inch, but it isn't an experience I want to repeat.  
 
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Trace Oswald wrote:A cautionary tale. I used my scythe for the first time today. I think I will pick it up pretty quickly, and I can already mow with it. My technique definitely needs work. The warning though: Be very careful when sharpening the blade. My hand slipped when I was doing it and I cut the tip of my ring finger off. It happened so fast, it took me a couple seconds to realize what I had done. I didn't cut a lot off, less than a quarter inch, but it isn't an experience I want to repeat.  



That's terrible Trace!  ...and sharpening is just the place for that to happen!

I have seen special gloves that are thin and resistant...I saw that the guy who does the 'grass fed market gardener' videos wears them both for peening and sharpening and while mowing.  I always thought about getting some.  You've given me the nudge I needed now.  

Otherwise, I'm happy it's going well for you
 
Caleb Mayfield
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Oh no! Injuries are never good.

Anyone looking for a good quality leather glove, I recommend the ones from Red Wing Shoes. They make a leather glove out of some really good leather that has a Kevlar lined palm, even all the way down the fingers. They are pricey, but you do get what you pay for. I'd also recommend getting some of the All Natural Boot Paste and working it into the leather. It really extends the life of them.
 
Barbara Carter
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David F Paul wrote:

Barbara Carter wrote:I just got my first scythe from Scythe Supply, and am a bit disappointed. The collar is very loose; it twists around on the snath and torques the blade when I tighten it down. It actually forces the blade into the "wrong" open angle they warn you against, in spite of my best efforts to hold the blade at the correct angle. I've sent an email, we'll see what they say about it.



I have had this problem as well, so what I like to do is get everything tight enough on both screws that you can still just barely move the blade, then put the blade in the correct position, then tighten each screw a quarter turn at a time alternating between each screw each time.not a big fan of the square key they send, or the snath. i reccomend the smaller rings from one scythe revolution, they are a regular hex key and the screws are in a diagonal arrangement instead of one on top of the other, which helps. also the construction is much nicer, not sure about yours but mine from them had spotty welds, and a lot of burrs on all the parts like they didn't take the time to finish them correctly.



Thank you for the One Scythe Revolution tip, I didn't know about them. Their products look great. I'm glad to see there's some competition out there.

I never heard back from Scythe Supply. They sent an email saying they'd call me but they never did.

We've been having a terrible heat wave so I haven't scythed lately, but I did try re-tightening the ring and it looks like it may be settling in a bit. I still can't get it to maintain a closed angle, but I can now get it tight at a middle position, which is a huge improvement. It looks like I just have to work at it over time. Like you, I am not impressed with the quality of the workmanship on the ring.

Thanks everyone!

 
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When sharpening your scythe, you should Always be pulling the stone away from the edge, never pushing into it. And clearly, as you place the stone you need to not pass your fingers through the edge.  If you need to cut some rougher material, get a brush or ditch blade for that work. Keep the grass blades for grass ;) I'm mildly scythe obsessed, with four of them now ;)
 
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