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This is a badge bit (BB) that is part of the PEP curriculum.  Completing this BB is part of getting the straw badge in tool care.

Scythes are a great way to get some exercise and quietly cut vegetation.  While a dull scythe gives you even more exercise, it's no fun.  Let's sharpen that scythe!



This BB applies to European, American or any other stand-up cutting scythe.  The techniques may vary between the types of scythes so do your research and take the steps that are appropriate for your tool.

To get certified for this BB, post:
   - Explanation of your scythe type and how you are going to sharpen it
   - Video of dull blade trying to cut grass clearly showing it's not sharp, or close up clearly showing dull edge
   - The sharpening process (perhaps peening, perhaps grinding, perhaps using a stone, etc)
   - Video of sharp blade easily cutting grass, or close up clearly showing sharp edge
COMMENTS:
 
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Approved submission
Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

This is a sharpening technique that is unfamiliar to the certifiers.  Could you please provide better imagery for " close up of edge of dull scythe" and " close up of the sharpened edge" so that it can be verified that the scythe is actually sharper

Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

For being the first poster on this BB, submitting further documentation below and enduring the shoddy list of requirements, I'm going to certify this BB complete!

 
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I like the "BB60 or bust" sign in the background.

Sorry, I'm not up on modern scythe care so I can't certify this BB.  I'm going to forward it to the team but it's a long weekend, so I'm not sure we have as many people around right now.
 
Rob Lineberger
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r ranson wrote:I like the "BB60 or bust" sign in the background.

Sorry, I'm not up on modern scythe care so I can't certify this BB.  I'm going to forward it to the team but it's a long weekend, so I'm not sure we have as many people around right now.



Oh that's quite alright. Don't rush on my account.   I'm just amusing myself with BBs over here.  I hope you and the staff have a great holiday weekend!  And thanks for watching.  

BB60 or bust...
 
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I don't even know where to start with on this. The guy likes to make crazy videos... with bad information content which is in my opinion worse then no content. Because people may get the wrong idea and think this is how it is done.
1- American scythes can not be peened to sharpen, you must use a grind stone. they have different steel and will crack if peened
2 - Never use a ball peen hammer it will distort the blade
3 - Always take the blade off of the snath
4 - Never listen to someone who starts out by saying "this is the first time I have used one"
5 - I can pull a piece of paper through my dullest blade and cut it, it proves nothing

That is just for starters
 
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I think that the parameters for this badge bit are unclear?
The instructions seem to be 'peen and sharpen' your blade but there is nothing to say what type of blade is peenable?

Here are a few informational threads and videos from the 'scythe' forum here at permies...

https://permies.com/t/143628/scythes/difference-American-scythe-European-scythe

https://permies.com/t/141104/scythes/ordered-scythe

https://permies.com/t/61078/scythes/peening-scythe-blade

There are many more threads in the scything forum with good information https://permies.com/f/267/scythes
plus quite good sharpening and peening videos on line.  

First though, maybe most importantly would be to ID the scythe itself because otherwise folks are going to be ruining perfectly good american scythe blades by peening them







 
r ranson
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Judith Browning wrote:I think that the parameters for this badge bit are unclear?
The instructions seem to be 'peen and sharpen' your blade but there is nothing to say what type of blade is peenable?



Good point.  I suspect part of the badge is showing an understanding of what kind of blade you have and how to sharpen that particular blade.
 
Rob Lineberger
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Brian Kerkvliet wrote:I don't even know where to start with on this. The guy likes to make crazy videos... with bad information content which is in my opinion worse then no content. Because people may get the wrong idea and think this is how it is done.
1- American scythes can not be peened to sharpen, you must use a grind stone. they have different steel and will crack if peened
2 - Never use a ball peen hammer it will distort the blade
3 - Always take the blade off of the snath
4 - Never listen to someone who starts out by saying "this is the first time I have used one"
5 - I can pull a piece of paper through my dullest blade and cut it, it proves nothing

That is just for starters



I will be the first one to admit that I'm not sure how to do this.  Which is why I said that in the video.  I also tried to indicate such with the first few frames where I clearly do not know how to use a scythe.  

The BB is "peen and sharpen a scythe."  That means you are required to peen it.  They are very specific with these requirements.

I watched the video where the guy puts the nicked part of the blade on a flat anvil and uses a peen hammer to draw the nick away from the body of the blade.  That's what I did with the dent in mine.

The rest of it is that I treated the scythe blade like I would my knives, which is to use a honing steel to get the blade edge straight, use sandpaper and whetstone to bring the blade sharp, then oil it.  People have told me over the decades that they don't like the way I use my honing steel. All I have to say for it is my knives are dull before I begin and razor sharp after I finish, so that's what I do.

Now I am totally willing to hear that this isn't the way, and learn how. Pointing out all the things I did wrong with no advice otherwise is not very helpful. I watched the video and tried to follow those principles.  I can promise you the blade is not distorted.  It is very clean and sharp.

Also, I'm wracking my brain to figure out where you got the idea that I'm posting this as a how-to.

And I do like to make crazy videos!  

 
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Thanks to everyone for the information and commentary.  Especially the positive and helpful commentary.  

These PEP BB (Badge Bits) are threads where people show that they have done something and followed the requirements of the BB.  In this case I think two things are clear:
  • The requirements and write up of the BB could use some improvement
  • As the first person to attempt this BB and show his work, Rob is an awesome person

  • Could we spend some time trying to improve the BB?  It sounds like we need to change it to something like:

    Title:  Sharpen a scythe

    If an American scythe, show these steps:
    Dull
    Step 1
    Step 2
    Step 3
    Sharp

    If a European scythe, show these steps:
    Dull
    Step 1
    Step 2
    Step 3
    Sharp

    Can anyone give us good words for the steps?  There may be more or less than 3 steps for each of them.  Preferably steps that can be shown easily.  And fewer are better.  No need to show 20 steps if two will give us the proof that the person did the job.

    Also, can anyone give us an easy way to verify a scythe is dull to begin with and sharp to finish?  That is, an easy way from 2000 miles away to verify that a submission did result in a sharp scythe.
     
    Rob Lineberger
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    Mike Haasl wrote:
    Also, can anyone give us an easy way to verify a scythe is dull to begin with and sharp to finish?  That is, an easy way from 2000 miles away to verify that a submission did result in a sharp scythe.



    Thanks, Mike! That's the real issue here IMO.  

    I think my video looks awkward because it was awkward because I was holding the scythe vertical with one hand and trying to sharpen it with the other. To get the video under two minutes requires vicious cutting.  You don't see me clamping the scythe to the bench and using proper whetstoning and such.  There simply wasn't any time to fit all of that in.  I was going for light and humorous here, and missed the mark I guess. But I can assure you, the scythe is in good shape.

    I used two cameras to try to get an overhead angle as well but most of my effort was offscreen.  Hard to aim and focus a camera mounted to the ceiling. So I don't have that to show.

    And that brings us back to the real issue that you brought up.  See, the scythe wasn't really that dull.  I had a whetstone as advised in the video and the blade never really got dull.  I did nick the ground twice and warped the tip a bit, which is what I peened flat.

    So how would I show that to you, and what would I show after?  I've always used the paper test, as I did in my knife sharpening BB.  The paper is clearly ragged at the beginning, and clearly not ragged after the sharpening.  I disagree with some of the comments in this thread that slicing paper is a bad test.  It's the most universal test I know of.  But in this case, with a blade that long, how do I show you the issue?  

    Even if I had to do the video over right now, I wouldn't have a better answer. If you are like me, your axes, hatchets, and knives never get dull.  I don't want any mistakes and the fastest path to a mistake is a dull blade. ( I could dice onions with my axe right now.  :) )

    I never mind someone calling me out for doing something wrong.  I'm here to learn. I don't mind constructive criticism.  

    Also if you didn't like this video you're gonna *hate* the "make a pizza" video. :)





     
    Rob Lineberger
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    Could you please provide better imagery for " close up of edge of dull scythe" and " close up of the sharpened edge" so that it can be verified that the scythe is actually sharper



    I'll do my level best,  Before:



    and after:

     
    Judith Browning
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    Also, can anyone give us an easy way to verify a scythe is dull to begin with and sharp to finish?  That is, an easy way from 2000 miles away to verify that a submission did result in a sharp scythe.



    I think the clear 'test' of a sharp or dull blade is how well it cuts grass.

    A truly sharp blade should cut a swath of grass easily, by just ,moving the blade slowly through it...a dull blade will not and it would not be necessary to reattach the blade for a small careful grass test.

    So, since these are videos that seems like something easy to demonstrate?

    It's amazing how easily a well sharpened blade will cut a swath of grass.

    Is the video limited to two minutes or a minimum of two minutes?
    I think it would be easier to show progress if it were longer and I'm not sure why 'stills' wouldn't be as clear?

    EDIT:
    Here's an additional excellent 'test' of a sharp blade, given by Benjamin Bouchard in my thread about my new scythe
    This might be visible in a still or even a video?

    If holding the blade edge up and sighting down its length under bright light, there should be no shining, reflective spots along it. Any shining spots on the edge are dull spots that are wide enough to reflect visible light, and those regions should be sharpened with a file or coarse stone until it is brought back to a crisp apex.





     
    Mike Haasl
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    Ok, I changed the requirements to be more inclusive of scythe styles (or more accurate).  Of course, submissions made prior to the requirements changing are "grandfathered in".  If anyone has further recommendations for improvements to the requirements, please say so.  Thanks!
     
    Judith Browning
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    Mike, I think that the new guidelines are much improved!

    I had a thought....wondering if folks who are making videos for these badge bits, since the videos are then available on youtube to a wide audience, could link to the relevant thread here at permies? and give some brief indication of intent in the text below the youtube video, the what and why for?

    That information might help lead people here and also clear up any confusion where an enthusiastic 'attempt' is mistaken for a 'how to' video?
     
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    Mike Haasl wrote:Ok, I changed the requirements to be more inclusive of scythe styles (or more accurate).  Of course, submissions made prior to the requirements changing are "grandfathered in".  If anyone has further recommendations for improvements to the requirements, please say so.  Thanks!


    Thank you, I will likely do this now that American scythes are covered.
     
    Jordan Holland
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    I'm impressed by how classy Rob chose to keep things. I think he deserves lots of apples...
     
    Mike Haasl
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    Since I don't have a scythe, I had to wait till I was at Wheaton Labs to sharpen one.  Luckily Paul had the dullest American Scythe in recent history.  Getting good pictures of the dull and sharp edges were tricky with my crappy camera but hopefully the video conveys that the blade is now clearly sharper (sorry my arm was in the way a bit).  I tried the peening jig until I figured out it wasn't helping and that the edge was so blunt (or incorrectly sharpened in the past) that the stone wouldn't even touch the edge.  It just hit the base of the bevel.  So I filed the bevel until it was sharp again and hit it with a stone for the final touches.  We just got a foot of snow so I can't show it cutting grass...

    Dull-as-can-be.jpg
    Dull as can be
    Dull as can be
    I-m-so-dull-I-can-t-cut-warm-butter.jpg
    I'm so dull I can't cut warm butter
    I'm so dull I can't cut warm butter
    First-shot-with-the-peening-jig.jpg
    First shot with the peening jig
    First shot with the peening jig
    Changed-over-to-file.jpg
    Changed over to file
    Changed over to file
    Still-filing.jpg
    Still filing
    Still filing
    A-touch-of-stone.jpg
    A touch of stone
    A touch of stone
    Now-we-re-talking.jpg
    Now we're talking
    Now we're talking
    Staff note (Mike Barkley) :

    I certify this BB is complete.

     
    Judith Browning
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    Submission flagged incomplete

    Luckily Paul had the dullest American Scythe in recent history.


     I tried the peening jig until I figured out it wasn't helping and that the edge was so blunt (or incorrectly sharpened in the past) that the stone wouldn't even touch the edge.



    It's good that you gave up peening this blade if it is truly an American scythe blade?  
    Only European ones are peenable and peening will damage an American blade.
    Staff note (gir bot) :

    Pearl Sutton flagged this submission as not complete. Note: Wasn't a BB submission
    BBV price: 1

     
    Mike Haasl
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    It was an interesting scythe.  It was not rusty and looked relatively new.  But when you held a straightedge from the rib to the blade, the edge was well away from the straightedge.  You can see how much I had to file to get down to the edge.  I'm guessing it's been "sharpened" many times and possibly with the peening jig so I'm not sure how damaged it is.  Luckily it isn't a valuable heirloom...
     
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    Approved submission
      - Explanation of your scythe type and how you are going to sharpen it
    this is my grandfather's american scythe, i am going to sharpen it with a wet stone. The rust on this made me realize i need to get an angle grinder with a brush blade for all this rust. Also, it looks like my scythe is a hybrid? it has an american handle and a european blade, let me know if i am wrong.

      - Video of dull blade trying to cut grass clearly showing it's not sharp, or close up clearly showing dull edge


      - Video of sharp blade easily cutting grass, or close up clearly showing sharp edge

    PXL_20210911_162756768.jpg
    dull blade
    dull blade
    Staff note (gir bot) :

    Hans Quistorff approved this submission.
    Note: Possibly is European blade; at least it does not have the shape of being stamped like most American blades.

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