How to sharpen the blades on a reel mower
Reel mower blades need be sharpened very rarely. Poor blade contact is often misdiagnosed as a queue for sharpening. 95% of the time, mowing problems can be fixed by adjusting the blades so that they are properly spaced.
After several years of use, blades can wear down and get dull. This is usually caused by pebbles that snag on the mowing blades, but driving the reel mower over curbs or just running over rocks can also take the edge off. As the blades get dull, it gets progressively more difficult to use the mower. Sharp blades cut smoothly, while dull blades are much harder to push.
Not only are sharp blades easier to use, but they are also gentler on your shoulder and elbow. There’s less vibration when blades are smooth and unblemished. If your mower is hurting your elbows or making unpleasant sounds while mowing, it may be time to sharpen the blade.
When you sharpen lawnmower blades, please follow proper safety procedures. Be careful to avoid pinching your fingers in the apparatus or cutting your skin on the blades.
One of the easiest ways to sharpen a reel mower is with a backlapping sharpening kit. This type of kit includes sharpening compound and a handle. Here’s how to use a reel mower sharpening kit. Start by attaching the handle to the driving gear on the mower (under the hub cap). Then, apply sharpening compound to all of the blades of the mower using a paint brush. Next, start cranking the mower backwards so that the blades scrape each other down to a smooth edge.
The reverse direction is important, because it minimizes wear of the blades. Turning the reel mower by hand can take a while and requires some serious arm strength. For faster results, it’s possible to turn the mower quickly using an electric drill with the proper attachment.
Some reel mowers can be sharpened with conventional blade sharpening kits. These knife sharpeners aren’t as effective as a backlapping kit, and there’s a possibility of overgrinding the blades and ruining the mower. Sharpening kits are better than knife sharpening tools because they prevent damage and reduce the risk to your fingertips.
If you prefer to use a knife sharpening kit, it’s a good idea to completely disable the machine before sharpening the blades. If the blade is not detachable, then please make sure to pin the blade in place so that it can’t rotate. Some reel mowers have arresting gears that will lock the wheels in place. If your reel mower doesn’t have that feature, then it’s a good idea to put wooden chock blocks in-between the blades to prevent them from spinning freely.
Watch out for your knuckles while sharpening blades. It’s easy to cut yourself while applying force on a tiny area. If you’re clumsy like me, you’ll want to choose a blade sharpener with finger guards. There are also more precise sharpening tools. They give fine control over the angle of the blade, and also deliver a uniform edge. These fixed position blade sharpeners can also be used on loppers, secateurs, tree pruners and other edged tools.
If you have a power drill, a sharpening attachment may be the most convenient way to sharpen reel mower blades. Rotary sharpeners fit onto powerdrills just like drill bits, and they work like polishing brushes. Let the drill do all the work, and your arm will thank you for it.
Another way to sharpen the blades is with metal finishing sandpaper. Using a sheet of sandpaper to do the job is pretty hard work, but there are sandpaper appliqués that do a wonderful job. These sandpaper sharpeners attach to the back blade and brush against the cutting blades as they rotate past. To sharpen the reel mower, all you have to do is attach the sandpaper and give it a push.
After sharpening, putting a light coat of oil on the blade can prevent rust and other corrosion from setting in. Low acidity vegetable oil is a good choice because it wont leave any harmful residue on your lawn, and it will protect the blade from moisture.
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