We at S&S are scythers, and though we sell sickles, we don’t have the years of experience with them as we do scythes. Following we explain some of our tricks and tips for using a sickle and, more importantly, using it safely. We welcome, encourage, you to write in or call with your recommendations for using the sickle safely.
One thing I dislike and distrust about using a sickle it that if you use it forward handed swing, a swing that brings the sharp edge towards you, you can easily cut your leg, knee or ankle with a simple, over extended stroke. To get around this ever present danger you can use a back handed stroke (this is beginning to sound a bit like tennis) so the sharp edge of the blade moves away from your body. Now you need to keep an eye out on any folks working around you, which you must do that anyway regardless of the tool you use.
Another method of protecting yourself (short of wearing baseball catcher’s shin guards and heavy shoes) is to place a small diameter, short stick near your foot between you and the sickle. Place one end of the stick on the ground by your foot and hold it upright with your off hand (the hand not swinging the sickle). If you over swing (it’s easy to do) the stick will stop the stroke before the edge reaches your tender leg or foot.
Short, gentle strokes are also an answer to this problem. After all, you are not trying to mow a wide swath with a sickle. For that you do want a scythe. In the past, before the development of the scythe, folks used sickles to cut large areas of grass and to harvest grain. What back breaking work that must have been. Rather glad we missed that era. Back to my point, nowadays people us a sickle to trim grass and brush around foundations, garden beds, cull berry canes, trimming in general. That kind of work does not require exuberance but is best done slowly and thoughtfully.
One gentleman from NC with many years experience with a sickle tells us folks in his area use a short stick in their off hand twisting it around the grass to cut then with a backhanded swing cut the grass below the stick. This sounds like a very practical and sensible method.