We have a manual lawn mower. There is a place in town that will sharpen
them but is it better long term to by sharpening tools and figure out
how to do it ourselves? How often does it need to be sharpened
(assuming we mow 2x a month, normal sized lawn).
Sonia Van Tassel
Here is a site which discusses DIY sharpening:
The site also mentions a simple method for testing the
sharpness of the mower blades.
Below, I've cut-and-pasted some comments regarding why
you might not want to try it yourself. Of course, this is from
a company which sells the service that they recommend
you farm out.
Welcome to our Do-It-Yourself Web Site and my Sharpening
Not really an art but it is a skill. Must be professionally sharpened.
Best left to the pros to do.
One of many difficult tools to sharpen. It takes a specially designed
and built machine to sharpen reel mower blades. So much so in fact
that the machine does only this sharpening procedure.
Many sharpening shops do not have the machine. Most lawn mower
repair shops should have such a machine but even this is not
guaranteed. The machine is costly and takes up lots of space.
On most of the commerical sharpening machines, the reel has
to be removed from power reel mowers. Hand push mowers the
mower is mounted upside down. A power grinder wheel is used
to sharpen the blades.
The bed knife must also be removed to correctly sharpen it. Once
all blades and knives are sharpened and reinstalled, the bed knive
has to be adjusted to the blade so the reel cuts against the
bed knife like a scissors.
The process is explained above so you and other readers of the
question can understand the process and appreciated the labor
required and costs involved.
So everyone can realize that many claims can be made by other
types of sharpening methods and machines but none can compare
to commerical power sharpening equipment designed specifically
for this purpose.
In my professional opinion, no other method can produce the
wanted and needed results. Reel blades and bed knives cannot
be accurately nor properly sharpening by hand. It's worth every
penny to have a reel mower professionally sharpened.
Once a season (in the fall before storing) you have it professionally
sharpened for about 25-30$ US it takes about 45 min of labor on
machines costing $10,000 or more.
In between you back lap the blades by using either abrasive strips or
lapping compound while spinning the reel in reverse.
I gave away the machines to sharpen reels because my customers had
unreasonable expectations regarding time and cost and don't care for
their equipment properly.
I've had mine for four years, I think, and I sharpen it with grinding
compound once a year. Unless you are really rough on it, there should
be no bent blades to deal with, which requires a special machine. If I
recall correctly, mine cost about $100 new, so if I ever try to mow some
rocks and damage the reel, I would probably just buy another mower.
The sharpening kit I got is very simple, and probably overpriced: just a
piece of tubing to use as a wrench, and a tin of grinding compound.
Grinding compound can be had at any auto supply store, so I would
suggest you remove the drive wheel and see if you have something laying
around the house that could be used to spin the reel backward. I use a
socket on an extension that I chuck into my cordless drill, how's that
Sonia Van Tassel wrote:
It is not difficult to do. The hardest part may be removing the blade, which
tough if it has not been done in previous seasons. Once the blade is removed,
it in a vice or similar clamping tool. I take a good file and hone the edge of
the blade with a smooth stroke, trying to keep a constant angle close to the
original angle of the
Once a season should be enough to maintain the blade, unless it has been knicked
up a lot with
Be sure to retighten the bolts to the specified torque, so it doesn't fly off
while the mower is
Doing it yourself does save some money, and should be part of your regular
proceedure for putting
engine away for the winter. I would take the blade to a professional only if it
is in such a bad
that sharpening it yourself becomes a big chore. I would also price the cost of
a new blade at that
to see if it pays to have someone else do it.
Sonia Van Tassel wrote:
I'll assume 'manual lawn mower' means manual push reel. If you look on
Amazon.com, they sell two brands (or used to). If I recall correctly, The
16" American can be sharpened by hooking it up to a gadget which they also
sell. Seemed pretty idiot proof. The Scotts 2000-20 can be sharpened by
removing the reel and running it in reverse. The details I skimp, but if
you have moderate mechanical ability, you should be able to do it. This is
the model I have had for 1-2 years. It is still sharp despite leaving out
in the weather (yes slap me with a wet noodle), however it isn't as sharp
as when it was new ... you could practically take a jog (not recommended
for safety) with the mower and be done really fast. The manual says it
shouldn't need sharpening for 5 years, properly maintained. I am thinking
of sharpening it, because of my noodle adventures, but haven't done so yet.
If you just drug grandpa's lawn mower out of the back of the shed because
you couldn't spare an arm or a leg for gas, or if what you really meant was
that your lawn mower is some guy named Manuel, I don't what to tell you.
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