The ScytheSupply Blog

How to avoid a broken blade

How to avoid a broken blade

Check out the deep crack in the center of this blade. Can you tell what caused it?  Read on for tips on how to prevent this from happening to you.

Thoroughly survey the area to be mowed prior to mowing. The best time to survey is in early spring before grass has grown up around obstacles. Remove or clearly mark all rocks and debris in the mowing area: barbed wire, rocks, metal, logs, toys. Also clearly mark uneven ground and gravely areas — when mowing in these spots you may want to modify your stroke to elevate the blade from the ground. Once an area becomes overgrown it will be nearly impossible to properly survey, and walking through mowing material to check for obstacles will lodge/bend the grass, making cutting more difficult.

Proper technique has the power for the stroke emanating from the feet, through the legs, hips and core. The shoulders, back and arms help support and finish the stroke, they do not fuel it. Also, the blade should stay on the ground throughout the stroke and reset — for right hand mowing that's from right to left and back again. Check out our stroke workshop page for more discussion.

(To learn from a customer's unfortunate experience caused by not surveying and using improper technique, click here.)

Hafting angle:
A closed hafting angle protects the tang, ring/clamp and snath. For more information, click here.

Use the right tool:
Grass blades for grass and grains, ditch blades for mixed grass and weeds up to a quarter inch in diameter, bush blades for saplings up to three quarters of an inch in diameter, and loppers for anything bigger.

Peening: Hammering the edge work-hardens the steel. This is good as it toughens the edge. Over-peening (hammering too often in one area, peening too slowly, peening with too much force) takes the edge beyond toughness, making it brittle and causing tiny cracks to form perpendicular to the edge. When stressed during mowing, the cracks will lengthen, extending into the web. Besides causing brittleness, over-peening makes the edge too thin. This combination of faults results in an edge that will crumble away during use, leaving the edge ragged like the blade of a handsaw. Repair the damage before using the blade again. There is an excellent chapter on blade repair in The Scythe Book beginning on page 156. We are available for advice and offer a repair service.

Edge Sharpness: The edge must be kept sharp to do its job. Carry your whetstone with you while mowing and take a few seconds every 5-10 minutes to touch up the edge with the stone. It makes a huge improvement. Using a dull blade makes the work hard, requiring more force to carry the blade through the grass. More force increases the likelihood of blade damage. Scything is an easy exercise and does not require great effort.

If your blade breaks:
You may end up deciding to buy a new blade. Welding is not recommended as the heat from the welding job may damage the temper on the blade, making the steel brittle. Deep cracks in the blade itself may be able to be filed and peened, as mentioned above. The shape of the blade will be permanently altered, which the mower will need to be aware of while mowing so material does not get hung up in the repaired area.

As we say on the website: Scythe blades are tough but they have limits. Following these tips will greatly decrease your chances of having to deal with a broken blade.

Warranty requests are assessed on a case by case basis.

Published on Dec 1, 2015 by Emily
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