Blade Selection Guidelines
We carry an extensive line of blades both left-hand and right-hand. They come in a variety of styles, weights and lengths to suit different tasks and mower’s preferences. If you would like some friendly advice or guidance in making a choice, please let us know and we will be happy to help.
There are three basic types of blades: Grass, Ditch, and Bush. Following are a few guidelines to help you choose the type blade you need.
Grass blades are used for mowing hay fields, grain harvesting, trimming, and maintaining lawns. Lengths range from 22 in/55 cm to 36 in/90 cm. Length selection depends on the area to cut, ground conditions and the type of grass among other considerations. The shorter sizes work well for small areas and in tight quarters, such as clearing or trimming near buildings, along garden edges or between garden beds. The longer grass blades cut a wide swath for mowing large fields, lawns or harvesting grain. Grass blades are beautifully formed, graceful, thin and light, strong and resilient. A 36-inch blade weighs only 21 ounces. Grass blades are a joy to use and once you begin mowing, are hard to put down. They have their limits. Grass blades are not meant to mow woody vegetation. This is what ditch and bush blades are designed to do.
Ditch blades are simply grass blades on steroids. Stronger than grass blades and slightly heavier, ditch blades mow grass well plus heavy, thick weeds and light brush or woody stems up to 3/8” diameter. They will not stand up to the abuse of thick woody stems like the bush blade. Ditch blades are versatile and used in places where the mower encounters a variety of plants such as the edges of field and woods or roadside ditches. They are excellent for mowing hay fields. Ditch blades are particularly advantageous in reclaiming grassy fields overgrown or interspersed with thick, heavy weeds and light brush.
Bush blades are built short, stocky and strong for the hard work of cutting woody plants. Blade lengths run from 16 in/40 cm to 20 in/50 cm. Use bush blades to thin saplings in a woodlot or to keep back small trees encroaching on a field or woods road, for trail maintenance, for clearing brush and or very thick, tough weeds that a ditch blade would not handle.
The weight of these blades, as much as two pounds, provides momentum to slice through woody plants. Bush blades are strong enough to cut through live woody growth up to ¾” in diameter. Bush blades are too heavy and short for efficiency at mowing grass.
Bush blades are meant to cut single stalks. They are not meant to cut wide swaths like grass or ditch blades. In dense stands it is more advantageous to use a short blade. In most cases a 16 in/40 cm bush blade is the best choice. In dense stands the longer bush blades become easily entangled in adjacent brush.
A Special Note on Blade Length for New Mowers about Longer Blades
We consider long blade lengths to be 30 in/75 cm or more. At first glance it seems a longer blade cuts more area in less time. This is true when the scythe is in the hands of an experienced mower. For mowing large areas we find that most people are more successful with a 28 inch blade. This is particularly true for new mowers.
Long blades require very good mowing technique. Long blades create greater drag, so take more energy. Your swing has to be easy, light and smooth with a steady rhythm. You have to make use of your upper body mass to help carry the blade through the grass. The blade has to slice. If you force the blade, especially in heavy, dense stands of grass, the blade won't cut well. It catches in the grass so instead of a smooth, flowing stroke the scythe moves with a jerky motion. The mower tires very quickly and little grass is cut. Large areas often are more efficiently mown with a shorter blade; 24” to 28” are good lengths. Bear in mind, most people are not going to mow an acre a day. Most mowers will harvest only a small portion of that area at a time so a shorter blade suits the conditions better.
It is true that anyone can learn to scythe with what ever length blade they choose. After many years of helping people learn to mow we have found it is best for new mowers to learn on blades shorter than 30 in/75 cm.
If you would like help in deciding if a long blade makes sense for you please call us at (207) 853-4750 or email at email@example.com
Order blades on our blades page .
Blade covers are available for all blade sizes.
Click here for a discussion on snath selection.
Left Hand Blades
Right Hand Blades