Need some convincing about why scythes are a worthwhile investment?

You can never have too many wedgies

all-kinds-of-wrongOr wedges, anyway. Actually, you can. Which is one reason why the picture over there looks all kinds of wrong. But my point is this (and yes, I’m labouring it HARD): you really should experiment with wedges.

Ready to mow

Ready to mow

This is a Russian blade that a fellow mandolin-playing wannabe writer IT consultant scythe enthusiast (no, seriously, there really is more than one!) kindly sent me to check out. I spent a long time freehand peening it to get the edge thumbnail-test fine (the steel in these blades is comparatively hard, so the peening is quite a chore) and then fitted it up to my snath. It performed adequately on lawn, but was virtually unusable in ‘real world’ paddock mowing.

That was not any fault of the blade though – with a little bit of adjustment via not one, but two, wedges, the experience of mowing with this blade was transformed from a frustrating waste of time to a “bring it on!” kind of experience.

The two wedges I used here are almost identical, but I’ve rotated one at 90 degrees to the other, so that one wedge raises the entire edge of the blade to make it sit on its belly rather than on its edge, and the other one raises the point (toe) of the blade so it doesn’t dig into the ground.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend using wedges like this in the long term – it’s a bit of mucking around to set them up and adjust them, so now I’ve convinced myself that this is where the blade needs to be set to behave well, I’ll be heating and bending the tang.

And, for the record, the reason the ring is so very low on the snath on this rig is because these tangs are very short. Or, in other words, the attachment ring is as high as it can be – fitted snugly under the neck:

small-tang

And, for those interested, the short tang is my main concern with these blades. Indeed, at 95cm, this is the longest blade I own to date, and it has the shortest tang (6cm from top of knob to neck). This makes for a very short lever on which the attachment ring’s set screws can do their job. Here’s a shot of (left to right) a Russian blade, a Turkish blade, and an Italian blade, arranged such that the curves of the neck are level (i.e. where the attachment ring would go) – the latter two are pretty much neck-and-neck (excuse the pun) in length from neck to knob, while the Russian blade is about 30mm shorter (or, looking at it the other way around, the Turkish and Italian blades are 45% longer between tang knob and neck):

tang-lengths

Now, I’m not shy about cranking on my attachment ring’s hex key – I really give the threads a workout – but I couldn’t stop this blade opening up on the hafting angle in clumpier grasses. There’s little doubt in my mind that’s because of the shorter tang length, and possibly the extra possibility for slippage created by the use of the two wedges. It’s also possible (or likely) that these blades perform better with a different attachment mechanism altogether, and indeed I may just be displaying my ignorance – there could be a very good reason for the short tang, so I’m hoping to get some Russian feedback from the Scything Improver’s Forum.