Sharpening & Honing
Scythe Supply carries a wide variety of stones for sharpening & honing your blade.
Sharpening a scythe blade is a two step process. First, the blade edge is hammered very thin on a small anvil or with a peening jig. After peening, the edge is honed with a stone, or series of stones from coarse to fine, to prepare the blade for mowing. Resharpening with a stone is done frequently during mowing.
Our sharpening stones range from a coarse synthetic that removes metal quickly to a fine natural stone for honing an extremely sharp edge onto the blade. All the stones have a unique oval shape and the narrow faces are used to sharpen the scythe blade. A coarse followed by a finer stone will set an excellent mowing edge.
Following is a description of use for each stone we offer:
|• Synthetic: An open pore stone that removes a lot of metal quickly. It is comparable to 60 to 80 grit sandpaper. It is milled smooth on all sides but generally only the narrow faces are used to shape an edge. This coarse stone works well for setting the initial bevel on the blade?s edge, especially after peening with the jig. Follow with the finer grit Dragon stone for a finished edge. The synthetic stone is not recommended as your only stone or for continuous field honing. Use the coarse stone lightly and infrequently as it will wear away the sharp edge from the blade quickly. It stands up well to the harder steel of the North American/British style blades but needs to be used with great care on the much thinner European style blades. This stone can be used in conjunction with a file for repairing blade damage. 9" long. order #7026 - $8|
|• Natural Stone, Medium Grit: A general purpose stone the Dragon stone is included with all our outfit packages. The Dragon stone is comparable to 150 - 200 grit sand paper. Known as a “field stone” it is the most common stone used to hone the blade after peening or while mowing. The Dragon stone stone is milled on the curved edges only, the two wider faces left rough, as quarried. The curved edges are used to hone the blade. order #7010 - $8.|
|• Natural Stone, Fine Grit - Rozsutec: This is the perfect stone for putting the final, razor sharp edge on any blade. These stones are quarried in Slovakia and milled on all four sides. The Rozsutec is similar to the Arkansas stones from the US and is excellent for all tools, not only scythe blades. order #7025 - $12.00|
Keeping Your Stones Clean:
Always use your stone with water. Keep enough water in your stone holder to cover at least two thirds of the stone. As the stone moves over the blade small particles of metal, mowing debris and stone grit become trapped in the stone’s pores. As the pores fill the stone becomes smoother and it does not “cut” as well. Sloshing the stone around in water washes the debris away maintaining the grit. (the sloshing happens automatically as you mow; very convenient). If a stone does not seem to cut as well as when new wash it in warm, soapy water using a fine, stiff brush (a toothbrush works well) to dislodge material from the pores. A tablespoon of vinegar mixed in with the water helps the cleaning, too. Touching the tip of a bar of soap into the water improves the cleaning.
Honing Following Peening:
Use the narrow, curved face of the stone. For a grass or ditch blade rest the stone’s curved face simultaneously on the blade’s rib and edge. Stroke the stone towards the edge keeping its face in contact with both rib and blade edge. This will produce the correct bevel required for a grass or ditch blade. Continue in this manner from heel to the toe of the blade overlapping the strokes. To remove the wire edge from the underside of the blade, turn the blade over with the edge facing away from you. Lay the narrow edge of the stone against the blade edge and pull the stone backward, away from the edge. Do this lightly overlapping the strokes from heel to toe.
A bush blade is sharpened the same way except the heel of the stone is raised above the rib slightly as the stone is run along the edge. This gives the edge a higher angle and more metal behind the edge for strength. For a full description of stoning a bush blade please refer to our article “Tips on Using a Bush Scythe”.
By raising or lowering the heel of the stone while sharpening you can vary the angle of cutting edge. A shallow cutting angle helps the blade slice through light grass or clover. Raise the heel of the stone off the rib for a higher angle and greater strength for mowing in heavy weeds or brush.
If you wish, we will sharpen your blade by peening and stoning it at our shop. You will receive the blade ready to mow. If you are new to mowing with a scythe having us prepare & sharpen your blade gives you an idea of how a peened and honed blade looks and feels. This service may be selected from our order form. Blades ordered with an outfit can be sharpened by us for a $7 charge each. Blades purchased singly can be pre-sharpened at $10 per blade.
What are the best stones to choose?
Our Dragon stone is a general purpose stone & all a mower needs which is why we include it with our outfits. It will do the job of sharpening very nicely and does not remove metal too quickly so you don’t have to worry about wearing out your blade before you mow. The quickest and easiest way to get an edge on a blade after peening is to use a coarse synthetic stone followed by the Dragon stone. This is an especially good combination with ditch and bush blades.
While mowing, especially in rough, dry grass or in grass with thatch (both conditions dull a blade quickly) carry both stones with you. Every third or fourth time the blade needs touching up with a stone use the coarse synthetic stone followed by the Dragon stone. The coarse synthetic stone restores the original bevel quickly and the Dragon stone will hone the edge smooth and sharp.
For the thin, light weight grass blades a good combination of stones is the Dragon stone followed by the Rozsutec. The Rozsutec is an excellent follow-up to the Dragon stone for putting a fine edge on your blade.
If you purchase two stones you may want to choose our durable plastic holder as it carries two stones nicely. Our galvanized holder fits only one stone at a time.
We hope you find this explanation of stones helpful. If you have any questions please email or call us. “The Scythe Book” included with our outfits has many pages devoted to the details of peening and stoning. We are always ready to help with any questions not answered there.