Sharpening in the field is absolutely essential to successful mowing. Depending on the edge of your blade, what you’re cutting, and when you’re cutting it, honing can give you noticeable benefit after only a few minutes’ mowing; if things are starting to feel wrong, when they used to be right, it’s highly likely you just need to hone the edge.
Our Falci blades are unusually fine-edged straight from the supplier and respond to a whetstone very quickly; honing the edge will not be a laborious task – if you’ve used a scythe before you’ll probably find you can restore an undamaged edge to its sharper state in 5 to 10 seconds. When it starts to become more like work to successfully hone an edge, it’s probably time to peen your blade.
While mowing is always easiest in the early morning, when you’re first learning you’ll find the process easier if you wait until the sun comes up so you can see what you’re doing.
Pictured below is the basic process. Many experienced mowers prefer to ‘merge’ stage 2 with stage 4, that is, apply one stroke to the front of the blade, the next to the back, the next to the front, and so on.
Be sure to hold the stone firmly in a fist-like grip – keeping your fingers as far away from the blade as possible while still giving you good control over the stone. Scythe blades are very, very, sharp. A pair of cut-proof gloves may not be a bad investment if you’re accident prone.
Step 1: Holding the blade with the sun behind to as to catch any reflection off the edge.
Step 2: Sharpening the edge.
Note that in addition to the action indicated by the arrows, the whetstone ideally should be rolled with the wrist such that the angle of the curve of the whetstone as presented to the blade, stays relatively constant for the stroke. This requires an action that feels a bit ‘unnatural’ initially. The presentation of the whetstone to the blade in a stroke defined by one of the solid orange arrow in the picture above, is pictured below (but remember you have to leave enough room for your hand!):
Step 3: Having run the whetstone over the blade, you’ll note a fine edge has been dragged over, which catches the light. It will also catch your fingernail if you run it (carefully) from the belly of the blade to the edge.
Step 4: Taking the burr off.
Step 5: Be careful to check that the grey slurry of water/stone/steel doesn’t mask a remaining burr.