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Intro to sharpening

It’s vital to note that there are two essential steps involved in sharpening a scythe: peening and honing. The former is unlikely to be required on your new blade for some time, while the latter will probably be required within minutes.

Peening

Peening is the act of striking the blade, supported by an anvil, with a hard object, with the aim of drawing the edge of the blade out to make it thinner. Careful peening can also harden the edge by ‘compressing’ it. On a truly blunt blade, peening is the first step in sharpening, prior to honing.

With a scythe, peening is usually carried out with a jig or ‘freehand’, or somewhere in between.

The peening jig

The peening jig

The standard peening jig is a device that has been designed to minimise the possibility of user error by providing a guide against which the edge can run, as well as two ‘caps’ which are rested on the blade and struck with a hammer. Each cap has a different profile on its face, which results in impact being applied to different parts of the edge.

Peening freehand with an anvile

Peening freehand with an anvil

The freehand peening anvil relies on the user holding the blade in place on the anvil and striking the blade directly.

Other anvils which include a ‘table’ and/or ‘guide’ are effectively jigs as well, since they provide a physical guide for reproducing more consistent results than may otherwise be achieved.

For more information on how to peen your blade, check out our detailed section on peening.

Honing

Honing is the act of sharpening the blade with a whetstone. As with most abrasives, whetstones are available in different grades of coarseness, with the fine stones used for keeping an already sharp edge very sharp, and the coarser ones often used as an intermediate step, for example on a freshly peened edge, or on a repaired edge that has been filed but is still too rough for a fine whetstone to make quick inroads.

For more information on using your whetstone, check out our detailed section on honing.