A gent contacted us to ask whether we could supply a snath to fit an old Austrian blade. “Probably”, I said, but we’d need to see it.
Here it is:
The owner believes it came out from Italy with his father, but he wasn’t certain about that. He remembered it being used as a child, and wondered where it got to. He found it – and a hand scythe in similar condition – under his mother’s house recently. It’s had quite a bit of use and maybe a bit of abuse as well – you can see the sharp apex in the blade edge about two thirds along from the beard, where a deep tear has obviously been repaired.
The brace from the tang to the beard is, apparently (according to Peter Vido) quite unusual – not for its existence but rather its placement. It ‘traps’ the attachment ring so it can’t come off, which has its pros and cons (one of the cons was that it made the whole assembly more difficult to clean up).
I popped it into my electrolysis tank and let the sciencey stuff do its thing. It came out looking pretty good once the flaky rust was knocked off, and with a test buff with a sanding pad it looked promising and after consulting with the owner I marked a new edge to get it closer to an ideal cutting line – with a compromise between the ideal and not taking off too much steel (a good deal had already been removed in the previous repair, as you can see by the way the edge bites in toward the wavy line of decorative tensioning):
After ripping the edge back with a flap disc, the edge was about 1mm thick – no good for cutting! So quite a bit of peening required – I used the Rinaldi field peening anvil to get a flat, wide impact to speed up the bevel formation. I then cleaned up the whole blade with the sanding pad, honed it with a progression of stones, then put some veg oil on the blade to stop it rusting. Then I remembered that the whole reason the guy came to us was that he wanted a snath! And the ring wasn’t going to fit over our standard snaths. So I expanded the ring slightly, removed a few mm of timber from the end of a snath, and finished it with a thinner-than-usual piece of neoprene. Pretty pleased with how it all came up:
But, as always, the proof is in the mowing, and it mows nicely. Short of digging through hundreds of old samples to locate a similar blade to enable accurate dating, Peter Vido has put this one as 50+ years old as a safe guess, with the possibility of it being 100 or more years old. Either way, a thrill to be able to get it back into service: