It's an exercise opportunity, or a take-a-break opportunity, and to
me it looks cool, you can mow your lawn with a European scythe
(do a couple of swaths a day) and it's not boring, each cut taking
some precise control.
(the foreground is a drainage ditch, with sculpted longer grass
marking the dog's do-not-cross-without-permission line)
pictorial overkill :
I got the scythe at http://www.scythesupply.com a ``European''
style made of softer metal that you can keep razor sharp, which
is necessary for lawn grass.
Normally you get rid of the windrow after you've done the day's
cutting with a leaf sweeper and a few trips to the back fence
to add to the enormous haystack (how big will it get?).
In the spring I have to start over at the front before I get done
in the back, but you can't stall a scythe with long grass so it doesn't
It's not hard work and is a pleasant way to spend an hour.
I just spent a fair portion of the last week doing the weeds out from
under the cedars and around the feedlot fences...not <exactly> what I'd
call a "fun" way to spend an hour, but faster and less mess a than
string trimmer. As for the yard, "thanks, but no thanks". :)
I have two scythes that were my grandfathers. One was store bought and
one he made. I'm also privelaged to have one of his small and very worn
sharpening stones as well as the little iron block and hammer he used
for 'setting' the blade when he would field dress them. I prefer just
looking at them as opposed to attempting to use them. LOL
Probably you had an American scythe, which is pretty hard to use
on anything but long grass or weeds. The European style uses extreme
sharpness, so a lot of your cuts are extremely satisying.
The thing you work for, and adjust your stoke constantly for, is the
perfect stand of grass, where you touch the next eight inches of a
ten-foot-wide swath and the grass falls over and is swept into a
neat pile on your left.
If the grass sticks to the cutting edge of the blade, it needs
re-peening. If some grass simply bends out of the way, it needs
only a light going-over with a whetstone.
The going-over happens every couple of minutes, and you pace the
work to take that rest period into account.
The American scythe blade is high-carbon steel and doesn't sharpen
with hand tools as far as I know, and doesn't re-peen at all.
Peening (hammering the cutting side of the edge to make it very thin
again, where the whetstone has finally worn the cutting edge back
into thick metal) you have to do every couple of hours, with lawn
It's not a pleasure for everybody, but somebody might like to try it
and find they like it.
I really hated the power mower noise and pointless lost two hours
of the day, and it was always a bear in long grass when I let it go
too long a time. Hand push-mowers were a nice break from that but
took yet another hour, wound up boring though not repulsive, and you
still needed the power mower for too-long grass.
The scythe does it all, but if you don't like the feeling of it,
it really isn't for you. If you like it, it beats TV.
now you know that's not all there is to it.
working with a finely tuned hand tool can be rewarding.
Sure, I'd have fun with a CNC 3D router, but there is something
satisfying about plaining/sawing/etc wood by hand.
Personally, I'd enjoy the lack of noise more than anything else.
I sometimes use my reel mower when it's too early for me to be
disturbing my neighbors. (before 9am in my book)
I sometimes wish my neighbors and their guests (honking horns) were as
*Those* are the times i wish i had a nicely tuned scythe. ;)
Ich habe keine Ahnung was das bedeutet, oder vielleicht doch?
Wow, that is quite an area you scythe! How long does it take total for
how much area?
Also I'm amazed how short and even you cut. I've used one of the
european scythes before and I didn't end up with that. I'm pretty sure
the blade needed to be tuned up alot better to get your results.
Ron Hardin Wrote:
It's about an acre. The rule is said to be a man can cut an acre a day.
I guess a day is 10 hours or so, I don't know.
I just go out and do a couple swaths when I need a break from something,
and over the course of many days, the whole thing is done and I start over,
if there's been enough growth.
The cut is sort of automatic - the cutting edge is just off the ground
when the body of the blade rests on the ground. You get unevenness left-to-right
if it's not sharp enough, or needs peening (edge is sharp but not thin enough).
It needs sharpening every couple of minutes, peening every couple of hours.
Not burying the tip and not taking out divots doesn't take long to learn;
the effects of the various angles you can control maybe takes longer.
I use a pretty long blade (32" or 36") which makes things more even, and is
on flat enough ground. In really heavy going or on an uneven surface a 26"
You get a spread of grass heights, some being cut right at the ground pretty
much, and some bending over enough to keep varying longer lengths.
Avoiding the power-mower lawn look is one of the charms.
The bottom face of the blade is curved, so the edge winds up a quarter inch or
so above the ground, and that will be the shortest length. You cut with the
blade riding on the ground (that's responsible for the odd geometry of the
scythe and snath that holds it, to keep the blade flat on the ground).
The sharper the blade, the shorter the average length. What gives the spread is
grass not immediately being sliced but rather being carried with the blade,
which prevents successive grass from seeing the blade until it's bent over a bit.
If no resharpening reduces this effect, it's time to re-peen the edge. In the
worst case of a too-dull blade, grass at the end of the stroke on the left isn't
cut at all. Also resistance goes way up so it becomes hard work
instead of an interesting time occupation.
Peening takes maybe ten minutes; sharpening takes maybe 30 seconds, and is
done very very often as you go.
I think a push mower is a much more practical option. It's good for the
grass, and good for the pusher. I think a scythe, should you be able to
find one, would be hard to maneuver around the edges of your lawn and
would produce, at best, a raggedy look that, at least around here, would
have you on a first name basis with the building inspectors.
We had a traditionalist around here who decided he wanted his yard
naturalized, as it would have been had people never come here. After a
lot of complaining and citing and woofing, the city just came out and
mowed his weedpatch for him, and billed him for the service.
http://www.scythesupply.com has everything you need.
It will run into a couple hundred dollars.
I've found the lawn looks nicer if scythed than if mowed; the drawback is
that it takes LOTS of time, and you have to deal with the neat rows of
clippings you produce. (I do a swath up and back, producing a pile
between them, and leaf-sweep the pile up to the back fence; and call it
a day until tomorrow. I do an acre that way.)
Other drawbacks are that you have to develop some skills in cutting,
and figuring out what's wrong when it's not working right, which is going
to take about a year.
Mostly you do neatly right up to the edge, as well as a string clipper, except
for corners that restrict you from getting into them. Certainly better than
a mower, as to edge closeness.
Going out and mowing a couple 10' wide swaths has to be a regular hobby for
you, each day, or you won't like it.
On the plus side, the grass never grows too long for a scythe. It beats a
power mower even, in that regard.
A push mower leaves you in trouble once the grass is too long for it.
I could add, a lot more than that, if you get into it as a pasttime, as there's
no blade you want to leave untried, and they run about $60 each.
And then it's handy to have multiple snaths for your multiple blades, to save
mounting and unmounting time (easily two minutes wasted), as you proceed out
to the yard in search of the perfect blade for the grass condition and lawn
flatness, multiple setups in hand.
The perfect stroke knocks down all the grass at a touch. You can spend hours
getting various approximations.
It keeps your mind busy.
Try doing that with a reel mower.
It depends, is all I'm saying. I find a scythe makes the chore a pleasant
hour in the yard each day, instead of a mindless back and forth you have to
do when the grass needs it (less than each day!).
If you won't find that interesting, then a scythe is not for you.
On the other hand, I look forward to lawn season because there's always grass
to scythe for a break from work in the house, day in and day out.
Incidentally, rain is no obstacle. A scythe works great in the rain.
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