Winter blade care
Take these steps before stowing your tool for the winter.
If the blade is on its snath, remove it. Keep your ring/clamp screwed to the snath, or stow where you won't lose it. Inspect the snath for cracks and repair/re-glue loose or broken stem/handles. Wearing work gloves, wipe the blade with a moist cloth/rag to remove dirt and debris — pay special attention to the rib crease. Rub steel wool along the bevel edge of the blade (that's the quarter inch of steel running the length of the blade that gets peened and sharpened), this makes cracks and chips easier to identify.
Chips, tears and cracks can be addressed at this point. File out with a flat file and then file the edge to even it out. A coarse stone is useful for making repairs. Check out our repair video.
Using a peening jig or hammer and anvil, carefully peen out repair areas. Then peen the whole blade. For notes on peening click here.
Using a medium grit Bregenzer whetstone dipped in water or a water-vinegar solution (1 Tablespoon of vinegar in a whetstone holder topped off with water), sharpen the blade. If other stones are available, sharpen with coarse stone, then Bregenzer, then Rozutec (fine grit). For more sharpening information click here.
Storing the blade off of the snath allows the wood to breath. Keep the blade in a dry place, wrapped in something breathable, like half of a jeans pant leg sewn closed at one end or one of our canvas blade covers. Keeping all of your scythe related tools in one place, like a bucket or a certain corner of the garage or barn, will help you find everything more quickly when you need it.
Addressing problems now will save time when things ramp up in the spring.
(With credit to our happy customer in Vermont for the sketch.)