Just starting out scything as a learning process. I bought a scythe with a curved snath and a grass blade from the junk man down the street for 12 bucks. Blade rusted, but in ok shape once I sanded it back to shiny metal. I got my anvil and my stone, and I've peeked and whetted the sucker. It seems like it takes quite a bit of effort to cut anything!! I'm just wondering if I'm terrible at it cause I'm a newbie, or if it needs to be sharper.
Is there anything you guys can compare a properly sharpened scythe blade to? Sharp as my straight razor? Is less sharp usable? Might be losing my mind.
I know this is an old post but I've been away a while and this bore responding to. If the blade is a True Temper I can tell you they are GLASSY hard and can take a literal razor-like edge. I used a 1x42 belt sander and sharpening belts to restore the edge on mine, but a file followed by round rod stones or sandpaper on a curved backing (so it can hit the interior of the curve) will allow you to refine the edge to where it needs to be. You want a scythe to be absolutely as sharp as you can make it, and at a very narrow edge angle.
Thanks, I didn't understand at first that a true temper would be such a different metal hardness from a typical European stone. At first I was trying to peen it with zero success but with some consistently angled filing it's doing ok. I dot have anything to mow with it anyways, I just hate seeing the old suckers go to rust.
Try peening a True Temper and you'll crack it like a mirror! Even for American pattern scythes those puppies are hard. Sometimes GENTLE peening can be used on damaged American pattern blades to correct a wrinkled edge. Tried that on a True Temper Dutch-pattern weed blade and put a nice big spiderweb fracture in the blade. Fortunately it was near the tip so I was able to cut off the broken part and regrind the toe, but it's relegated to "beater" duty now. GREAT blade but don't even try peening out damage! The American scythe is every bit as good of a scythe as the European variety--but it's also a TOTALLY different animal, and as such its care and feeding are different as well, let alone how to properly use it!
As a general rule, if the blade has a narrow tapered tang (English/American pattern tang) then DON'T peen the blade. Stones and files only. For field touchups I like to use a Jewelstik "stubby" diamond steel. Medium grit diamond abrasive on an oval rod. Works great and tucks in your back pocket.
Use a coarse 12 inch long round carborundum stone to get the scythe blade almost sharp This stone is usually an inch in diameter at each end and has a big fat belly of nearly 2 inches diameter in the middle of its length .
Then use a fine 12 inch long by about 1& 1/2 inch wide flat carborundum "Oval " stone to hone it .
Your scythe is correctly sharpened when you can get a real copper coin ( beware of copper coated steel these days ) and press the coin edge on the blade egge at 90 degrees to the run of the blade ...if it sticks on the blade it's sharpened .
If it falls off , use the " RUB STONES again , Once you've learnt to how to use the stone to its full effect you'll realise you were only battering the grass down before & some of it became detached from the root system whilst you were doing it .
A good sharp scythe should see you cut at least 10 yards of long ripe hay meadow grass before it needs a gentle re hone with the fine stone . Brambles and woody stuff will see you need to reuse the coarse stone quite a lot and as before use the fine stone to hone the blade .
The first part of the video covers beveling by grinding, and from the 8:00 mark on it covers honing.
A properly sharp edge in action:
Recently I was able to find some properly formulated mounted stone points that are designed for thin sections of heat-sensitive hardened steel and they can be used in a common electric drill with very good results. I don't have them available just yet but will be stocking them in the very near future. I would recommend against using standard off-the-shelf mounted points for grinding blades as it would be pretty easy to overheat them, but with the correct blend on these ones there's next to no perceptible heat buildup even when continuously working a narrow region at max RPM's.