A variety of tools are needed for scything.
The first one of course is the blade. It is attached to a snath by a ring. The blade needs to be very sharp, and getting there involves two different processes. First the scythe needs to be peened. It is the process of modifying the edge of the blade, leaving it as thin and even as possible all along the length of the edge. For that we need an anvil and a hammer, with the anvil secured in the ground or in a piece of log. The blade sits on top of the anvil, where repeated hammering gives it a fine edge. The second part of the sharpening takes place during the actual mowing, using a wet flat stone that we carry inside a stone holder, usually made of cow horn, wood, plastic or metal and hung from the belt.
Hello, I was wondering if you ever use the scythe that is in the photograph it is the American style and how it compares to the one you usually use?
I do not experience with the american scythe. However I can tell you that today is not commonly use. The Austrian style (as most people refers to the European style even if was made in other European countries) is lighter and has better design. That is what many scythe users agree. Except some exceptions scythers don’t switch from European style to american. They do the opposite.
I hope this simple answer helps you to choose the one that is right for you.
Thank you for reading my blog and
stay sharp my friend ….
Hello thank you for your reply,
Some time ago I pulled a scythe out of the hay shed and before I would put it away I wanted to master it. That was over two years ago and every time I take it out I am learning something.
I come from Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland and the scythe was an English style with a wooden handle. The blade is a Tyzack, hardened sheet metal riveted to an iron rib.
I broke the wooden handle and strapped it up and broke it again. In the mean time my friend had given me an aluminum handle. The right nib seems to form an isosceles triangle to the blade in my scythe and looking at photographs with Peter Vido’s snaths the right nib seems to form an isosceles triangle with the blade also. In my scythe the left hand nib seems bent towards the blade and in Peters’ the left hand nib seems to bent away from the blade.
I have put another two nibs on the snath effectively making it a two speed scythe. The wooden nibs facing front is the low speed for cutting round obstacles and the plastic nibs on the other side is the high speed when the ground is flat and you can use the technique demonstrated by Peter Vido and Steve Tomlin.
I don’t know how to add photographs here so I put a couple on this site; http://scythephotographs.weebly.com/
On the site http://scythephotographs.weebly.com/ I have added a page on how to use a Tyzack style scythe.
Joe, Thanks for your link.Interesting modification on your blade. Can you get close to rocks with that blunt tip?
Unfortunately I get too close to the rocks and that is what has made the tip blunt.
I was disappointed when I damaged the tip at the start but now because of the type of ground I mow I think hitting rocks is unavoidable. Any ideas would be welcome.
The pointier the blade the better.
There are many interesting questions, answers and situations that you may find interesting in the blog https://scytheforums.com/.
I was looking at a photograph of you cutting round a rock. The rocks I was talking about in my last reply were stones concealed by grass. I am not sure if I could leave that same finish that you were achieving.
You can do it, of course, sometimes if rocks are to close together and have irregular narrow corners is very tricky and takes a lot of time, is almost like to solve a puzzle !!
Hi Alfonso, last August I participated in your workshop in DC near Catholic U. I would like to purchase a scythe and have been looking at the Scythe Supply. I was wondering what length blade we were using? It seems like a 26″ grass blade may be a good one to start out with, but they also have a tops blade which perhaps better for the weedier,woodier bits in our field (pasture grasses, some oriental bittersweet, and along edges raspberry canes). Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated!
For what I can see, Ideally you will need a standard blade (yes you are correct, the ones I used in the workshop were 26″) and that will be perfect for you. however since it seems you have harder vegetation, I will recommend you to get a ditch blade too, otherwise the standad blade will suffer, get damage and will not perform well.
Additionally you need a medium grit stone, peening jig or narrow anvil and hammer (I like the second option) and a clamp or ring with a key.
I am happy you are following through.
Contact me if you have other questions or if you need further instructions.
Good luck and stay sharp.
I am from nfld Canada I used to cut hay with a scythe years ago with my father. He always said the best scythe blade was a rivet back can you still get them? Also we had a sharpening stone that was rectangle shape wider in the middle and tapered on both ends. This stone was 12 inches long and I have looked everywhere for these stones without success do you know of such stones and if they are still available anywhere?
I really don;t understand what you meant by “rivet back”. Blades do have approximately a quarter of an inch bent “rib” across the back.
About the stones, the most common used are oval or boat shaped. I will like to see those rectangular ones you described. Remember many years ago farmers had less possibilities to choose that we have today and some people made their own from local queries, so shapes were not standard.
If you need one, try this link. http://www.onescytherevolution.com
Stay sharp my friend.