Preparing and Protecting the Snath

IMG-20150120-WA0013The snath requires as much care as the blade, though it is much less discussed. Instead of sharpening, repairing and adjusting the angle of the tang,  a mower must also be able to maintain and fix a damaged snath–and even better, avoid the damage. Imagine the area where you are going to mow is far from the barn or house and, because of the bad condition of the snath or because of lack of attention and maintenance, it breaks at the beginning of the journey.Not the best way to start the day!

The previous photo illustrates perfectly what happens when you don’t dedicate the time and attention necessary to something as simple as making a proper-sized hole in the snath to insert the nipple of the tang and affixing the blade to the snath.

In that photo, it is clear that no drill or chisel was used to make that hole. I am sure it was made using a regular pocketknife: The hole is not big enough and probably was not measured at all. The nipple doesn’t quite fit and was forced in by either hammering or over-tightening the ring… or most probably both. The result is that the snath cracked.

Luckily enough the crack did not reached the end of the snath and that is why it could be totally repaired (by enlarging the hole first with a drill and then with a chisel) and put back to work again.

It is quite simple, to make a hole with the proper dimensions, however there are a few small details to keep in mind.IMGP1034

First put the tang on top of the snath and mark where the hole is going to be. Most tangs are between 3 and 4 inches long and that should be the distance between the end of the snath and the hole.

Take a ¼ inch drill bit. You can mark it with a piece of tape at ½ inch from the tip of the bit to make sure you are not going to go deeper than that (since most nipples are about ½ inch long).IMG_20150202_193010

Sometimes you can even add a new hole, to better hold the blade. For that, just drill two holes next to each other, ½ inch deep, and then use a chisel to square, joining the two holes into one clean cut. That’s all it takes.


After that, it is very important to attach a metal snath saver or protector.

IMG_20150130_205032 (1)

Once the snath saver was in place, and as a double safety measure, I put one screw on each side to prevent the crack from growing further. And finally (it is not done yet) will be filling the crack with a wood glue.

Also the other part of the snath that needs regular monitoring is the grip. Just to make sure they are still tight. If not, take action to make sure they don’t get more loose.IMG_20150203_192841


Yes, cows also have twins.

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