Written by and appeared in : Farm Show Magazine spring issue, Vol 26, #2, 2002. Contact www.farmshow.com (1-800-834-9665).
Most Americans have abandoned scythes in favor of power mowing equipment, even when it comes to cutting weeds around buildings and fences.
But if you've grown weary of the whine of string trimmers, maybe you're ready to try a scythe, says Elliot Fishbein.
Fishbein started Scythe Supply about a year ago to sell quality European-style scythes.He says if you've used a scythe in the past and disliked the experience, you were probably using the wrong kind of scythe. Fishbein says his scythes work so well he's parked his power mower and now uses on to cut his lawn.
Fishbein says most scythes sold in America are heavy and poorly balanced. Not only that, but the angle at which the blade mounts on the handle (called a snath) tends to require that the worker bend over to cut with it.
On the other hand, his European-style scythes are lightweight and well balanced. The blade and handle are positioned to allow a comfortable upright stance.
"It's good exercise and since there's no noise except the swish of the blade through the grass, two people can work and talk together.", he says. "It can be relaxing and enjoyable work."
There are many differences between European and American-style blades. American-style blades are thick, flat and sharpened with a grindstone. The European style blades are shaped like an aircraft wing. The edge is hammer sharpened by hand (called peening) and finished with a whetstone.
"This makes the European-style blades very strong and the edge can be made sharper," Fishbein says. "The European style snath is made of solid wood and is light and comfortable. We can even custom fit a snath if we have your measurements."
In addition to blades and snaths, Fishbein also sells all the equipment necessary to maintain the scythe including whetstones, hammers, anvils and a jig for peening the blade edge. His web site (scythesupply.com) even has tips and instructions on how best to use a scythe.
A typical scythe, with snath and 24-in blade, sharpening stone and holder, peening jig for maintaining the blade edge and a book about scythe use, sells for about the same price as a low to medium priced push power mower.