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Scythe lingo

Like any tool with a long history, the scythe has some unusual terms associated with it. As well as the annotated photo showing the anatomy of a scythe, we’ve prepared a glossary of terms that may be useful.Parts of a scythe

Dress
This may not even be a scything term, actually… but we speak of ‘dressing’ the edge of a blade in reference to the process of restoring a sharp edge to a blade that has just had some work done to it which has detracted from the edge – whether in peening, repair, or other preparation.
Peening
Sharpening the blade by hitting it with a hammer. See our page on peening.
Honing
Sharpening the blade with a whetstone. See our page on honing.
Swath(e)
The arc of the scythe in the grass, as in “cutting a wider swathe”. Confusingly, it can also mean the mown grass as it lies. But on this site we mean the former. The latter, we call a…
Thumbnail test
This is the ‘gold standard’ test of a finely peened blade. The metal of the edge of the blade will ‘give’ slightly under the pressure of a thumbnail pushed gently underneath it (under the edge, not against the edge!)
Windrow
The cut grass or crop that lies in a neat row after being mown. For a right handed mower the windrow gathers on the left at the end of the stroke. This is a ‘natural’ result of mowing with a scythe.