Winter Tasks and Projects


There is little rest even during winter for scythes, except on rainy and snowy days. This is the best time to check if the blades require more attention than the regular peening and cleaning. This is when we take care of more serious repairs. It is wise to disassemble the blade from the snath if we are not going to use it for a few days, especially those humid days, because we all know that humidity swells wood. If the blade still attached,

IMG_20141128_143643the ring will not allow to expand naturally the part of the snath that is covered (by the ring itself) as a result, it will become tight and weaken the wood at that point. This is obviously something to consider all year round, every time the snath gets wet.

Winter is a good time to grab an axe and a brush axe

IMG_20141128_120720and trim trees, clearing and eliminating all those saplings and new trees growing around stones and fences. And of course, at the same time we always look for those branches that might become a potential handle for axes, hay rakes, forks, etc.

Because during winter most trees do not have leaves, it is easy to spot what we have to cut and where. Also the whole process is easier since, without the leaves, brunches are much lighter. Meanwhile growth is almost stopped during winter, and the wood gets tighter and harder. As a result, the wood we cut at this time shrinks less that what we cut in late spring or summer.

Speaking of winter projects, here is one of mine: attach some handles on these totally different brush axes.

ATT_1417201158412_IMG_20141128_121909 The big one is called a kaiser or sling blade (yes, like the movie), and is double-sided, with a sharp bevel on both sides and weighing about 750 grams. You can easily cut, with one stroke, branches the size of an arm. It is a terrific tool.

The little one weighing 430 grams, has a hook that, (no is not for scratching your back) when you are cutting brush, allows you to hold back the tangled branches that sometimes fall toward you and position them at the right distance for the next stroke.

Untill the next project, lets take the shirt off, relax and watch soccer…

ATT_1417193144595_IMG-20141126-WA0000Stay sharp my friends…

Old School Tools


Every time I go to a hardware store, I like to visit the section displaying the latest version of toolboxes. Full of beautifully organized wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers, etc., they make me think that there must be an engineering brain behind those designs just to make all the pieces fit so perfectly. Of course every tool has a specific purpose, and in the hands of a handy person or a true professional, it is amazing what some tools can do. But this phenomenon of having available to most of us such a variety of specific and advanced tools didn’t exist that long ago, and people had to build and make things they needed, including other tools. And of course they needed tools to repair even scythe blades!


In my village most of the old houses have outside a rain catcher, made out of either limestone or some kind of sand stone. They are about 30 inches high, 30 inches across, the walls are about three inches thick at the top and they weight about 500 pounds. These stone vessels served a secondary purpose: a “tool” that people used to fix the bevels of damaged blades and hoes, and to sharpen axes, sickles and kitchen knifes.


Many of them present very visible grooves from years of use, where one put the blade, then ran it back and forth in the notch. The motion is the same as if you were cutting a piece of wood with a hand saw.


Needless to say, not all types of blade or edge damage were fixed that way. Serious cracks, for example, needed careful filing, and treatment with hammer and anvil. But damages such as burr, bended bevel, small cracks or chips can perfectly be fixed with a rain catcher!!!


a large bee, working along pointy and sharp edges