I spent a year with various reel mowers, doing an acre. The chief difficulty was
keeping them sharp enough to avoid them crapping out by skipping over grass,
which is how they react to large resistance (rather than, as in the old days,
by locking up the wheels); and also that some very fine-bladed grass that tended
to survive cutting wound up taking over most of the lawn, by some evolutionary
On the other hand they were more pleasant than the damn power mower.
A couple years ago I switched to a scythe for the whole lawn and am much happier
than with either. It _does_
have to be a hobby for you, though.
Every day go out and cut a couple 10'-wide swaths across the lawn, and in a few
days, the lawn is done and you can start over. I can keep an acre cut even in
spring when it's growing fast.
On the other hand, long grass is a breeze. Nothing stops a scythe. Even power
mowers can't handle what a scythe does easily.
A scythe-mowed lawn, to my eye, looks nicer than the neighbor's super-tended
lawn that's cut and fed as his hobby, but it takes a year to learn the tricks of
mowing neatly and uniformly.
The chief trick is an insanely-sharp scythe, for lawn grass cutting. Every 30
strokes I pause and re-hone the blade (takes a few seconds), and every hour or so
repeen the blade (takes 5 minutes) so it takes a thin sharp edge. If you don't
the left side of your stroke won't take down all the grass as the blade clogs
partially cut grass from the right side of the stroke, unless the grass is
in which case the task is much easier. But you simply increase the work rate so
the few-seconds rest you get every 30 strokes is factored in, and everything
I get the scythe stuff from www.scythesupply.com
The ``kit'' runs you just under $200 but on the other hand it's a nice tool and
turns lawn cutting into a pleasant walk outside the house. I'm quite happy with
(A straight snath with say the 32" grass blade, the large anvil, the cross-peen
plastic stone-holder, smooth stone, would be what I would get from scratch for my
huge lawn. Next perhaps [after the hobby is verified to be attractive] the 36"
grass blade for cutting large smooth areas quickly, though the blade is too long
and thin for tough work, and the 26" grass blade for close work or insanely
grass. They recommend the 26" blade first but the going is too slow with it for
large lawn. Their bent snath comes with a random variety of bend amounts, some
of which are so steep as not to work with any blade [the bend puts the cutting
closer to the ground, which can be too close and the blade becomes a shovel] so
probably avoid getting that first. The effect is worse on longer grass blades.
slight bend is ideal but I don't know that you can count on only a slight bend.)
(The ``jig'' for peening sounds attractive but is not. It dulls the blade,
with a lot of work to get it back to a sharp edge. Peening with the hammer and
leaves the blade almost sharp already and ready to go, and also gives you the
to produce a really fine thin edge needed for lawn grass.)
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