Workshop 3: Stroke

At the start of the stroke, the blade can be brought back behind you to almost a 5 o'clock position. For reference you are facing 12 noon on a clock face.The point of the blade will be facing forward. Think of this initial position as cocking and loading a spring mechanism. Place most of your weight on your right foot. Keep your hands away from your body.

During the stroke both arms move in unison across the body. The left arm will naturally lever the snath as the right hand acts as a fulcrum point. The blade will follow a circular path. The stroke progresses with just enough velocity to sever the grass. It is unnecessary to whip the blade around. Try to feel the blade cutting.

At the end of the stroke your left hand will finish behind you as it levers the snath around and most of your weight will be transferred to your left foot. The blade will be pointed to the rear. The torsion and rotation of the upper body will provide the extra power to finish the stroke, your arms are not the only power source. Shuffle forward as you lightly return the blade to the right for the next stroke.

Exaggerate the whole dance routine a little until the dynamics become clear.

It is perfectly legal to take less of an arc in the swing. There are circumstances when such a vigorous and complete circular cut is unnecessary. In any case you should finish the stroke sufficiently to your left to avoid walking in the windrow that's forming. With enough follow-thru the windrow will be deposited on top of cut grass and not be thrown into the uncut grass.

Remember to:

  • Adjust the hafting angle of the blade (point 2-3 inches lower than the beard)
  • Keep the blade sharp, hone frequently.
  • Face squarely into your direction of travel
  • Engage only the first third or so of the blade in the uncut grass.
  • Keep the blade in light contact with the ground.
  • Keep your eye on the ball and follow through.

Keep it sharp, on the ground and moving in an arc.

This summarizes the key elements of successful scythe use. If nothing else remember this sentence.

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