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I learned a thing!


We went to the country show on Saturday and it was awesome (the weather cooperated and everything) and I bought a scythe and a sickle! w00t!

Now some of my handier readers may know how this thing is done, but I did not. Using either a scythe or sickle in the field, the blades need to be resharpened every five or ten minutes. An unsharp scythe is a misery. This is done with a lozenge-shaped stone kept on your belt in a holster half full of water.

This looks completely badass. Mine are in the mail.

But after a day’s mowing, or less if you’re mowing something hard, the blades need peening (which is sadly not as rude as it sounds). What you do is hammer a couple of millimeters of metal at the edge until it is super thin. Not only does this mash out knicks and dings, but it makes the blade thin enough to take a good edge from a smooth stone.

This is done with a one-pound hammer on a peening anvil, which is not a bigass anvil like they drop on people’s heads in cartoons, but a little shiny thing. Eh, have a YouTube.

The dude on the left in the painting is using a portable peening anvil they used to take out in the fields and stick in the ground. You can still get those. (Painting by Léon Augustin Lhermitte).

If you’re a casual mower, you can get away with filing the edge to shape. That’s what I’ll do. I don’t honestly see myself peening in the near future and, trust me, I’m going to be the most casual of casual mowers.

You’d think you’d hammer the blade away to nothing in no time, but there are plenty of very old scythes and sickles to be had. Though if I were serious, I’d buy a modern one.

If you wonder why bother, do a YouTube search of “scythe vs strimmer” — spoiler: scythe always wins.

May 30, 2016 — 8:53 pm
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