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How to Sharpen Reel Mower Blades

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How to sharpen a reel mower blade with a file or sharpening compound A reel mower's blades might get dull or need adjusting to produce the optimum cut.

How Does a Reel Lawnmower Work?


A reel lawnmower features blades that spin with the wheels. When you push it forward, the blades and a special "Cutting Bar" meet the grass. Then rake up the discarded grass clippings if your reel mower does not have one and they are longer than half an inch.

Will Dull Blades Affect My Reel Mower?


The blade sharpness affects a reel mower in various ways. Because the wheels and blades operate together, when the blades start to dull, it becomes more difficult to push the mower.

Dull blades also tend to "push over" grass rather than cut it. Dull or rusty reel mower blades can also damage grass, exposing it to turf disease, bugs, and fungus.

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Can I Sharpen Reel Mower Blades?


Reel mower blades are engineered to last longer and be sharper. Even so, they will eventually fade and develop rust pits.

This is more likely to happen if you let your lawn grow longer than 4 inches or if you trim it when it is still damp.

You can sharpen rotary lawnmower blades with a bench or electric handheld power grinder. These are the wrong instruments for sharpening reel mower blades.

How To Sharpen A Reel Mower With A File?


A mill file is my preferred method of sharpening reel mower blades. Some hardware stores even have special mill files for sharpening reel mower blades.

Here are 5 steps to sharpening reel mower blades with a file.

1. Stop the reel's blades from spinning.


Lawnmower blades are normally too dull to cut grass, but that does not mean they can not cause a severe finger wound! This requires inserting a broom handle or a hardwood dowel inside the blade assembly to prevent it from rotating accidently. It is also a good idea to place the mower in a large work area and chock the wheels with a doorstop or shims.

2. Clear away any debris, such as grass or dirt.


To remove any debris from the blades and surrounding surfaces, use a stiff wire brush or coarse sandpaper. If you use sandpaper, be sure it is metal-rated.

3. Scrape The File Against The Blades


The objective is to angle the plane of the metal mill file such that it matches the beveled edge of the first blade. You are not attempting to create a new angle; rather, you are attempting to remove a millimeter or two of dull metal. Depending on how rusted or dull the blade edge has become, this normally takes three to five passes.

4. Repeat Steps 3


Once you have removed as much of the first blade as you can, remove the broom handle and carefully spin the cylinder to have full access to the next blade. Then re-secure the blades and sharpen them again.

5. After Sharpening, Lubricate and Protect Blades


After sharpening all the blades, lightly lubricate all the moving parts with WD40. Coat the blades with penetrating lubrication or a clean paper towel soaked in linseed oil.

Sharpen Reel Mower Blades With Compound


Some manufacturers produce a unique sharpening kit that allows you to sharpen reel mower blades through a procedure known as "Back Lapping." It requires a little more elbow grease and takes a little longer than the file method. The main advantage of this back strapping and sharpening compound procedure is that you do not have to worry about the blades' bevel angles matching.

How Do I Adjust My Reel Mower's Blade Alignment?


With a little bit of mechanical skill, it's pretty easy to adjust your reel mower blade alignment. Improper or maladjusted blade alignment can hinder the efficiency of your reel mower blades. If you hear a scraping sound, you will likely need to use a bed knife to adjust the blades. After each one makes another soft, slow spin, you can see how many more adjustments you need to make.

The Importance of Routine Maintenance


Routine maintenance can help you get the most out of your reel mower. Sharpening the blades, making small adjustments, and applying a penetrating oil to the moving parts is less expensive than maintaining a gas-powered lawnmower.