A scythe comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, weights, (and colors). Some of them even with fancy stickers firmly affixed to the blade giving you the impression that it just won an award in a competition. (Even before ever touching the ground) But when scything, what really matters is how easy the blade cuts the grass, period. At the end of the day that is its mission. It doesn’t matter how well the snath fits you, how well the rest of the ergonomics match, or if the assemblage of the blade and snath is properly fit. Even if all of that is perfect, if the blade doesn’t cut as it is supposed to cut, is like a soldier going to war with a bb gun. (look how little contact this well balance blade makes to the ground, that translate to little resistance and easy slide)
Here is when the sharpening/honing kicks in
Since a scythe blade is curved in three different ways, we sharpen it different than we do the majority of axes or kitchen knifes that are angled 50/50 (if we put the edge of a knife in front of our eyes facing us and will magnify that view), in a perfect world the angle of the ax or knife edge should be a perfect V, we will see equal amount of material on both sides of the edge.
However, the concept of sharpening is the same, on all cutting tools, the thinner the edge the less resistance any kind of blade has to get into any material and we achieve that “thinner-ness” by reducing the angle of the edge by closing the V at the top. And we obtain that new shape by removing equal amount of material from both sides of the blade (with a stone in this case) that is sharpening. The farder back we go removing material, the smaller the angle and the sharper the blade will be, but also will get dull sooner and the cycle begin again. This is relatively easy on most axes or knifes however, when sharpening a scythe blade we have to keep in mind that on top of the three clearly visible curves there is another factor making it even a bit more complicated and that is the extra irregular additional angle of the edge.
The way I obtain better result when sharpening my blade with the oval whetstone is alternating strokes at both sides of the blade. Beginning at the beard and working my way out to the toe. The wider part of the stone makes the first contact with the blade dragging it until the point (of the stone). Beginning the first stroke from the inside part a little more angled and applying a little more pressure than the second stroke which the only function is little more than straighten the burr created by the first stroke. This action is repeated in the same order all the way until the toe.
The elongate diamond shaped stone of approximately 9 inches long and 1” or so wide at the middle is perfectly design to give final tune to the curved bevel of the blade.
“I don’t always eat chocolate rabbits, but when I do…..I prefer start with the head…”