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Altering a scythe blade tang angle for ease & efficiency

 
pollinator
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Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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This morning I was called upon by someone I know to look at their scythe and see why it was hard for the guy to use. I watched him hold the scythe and use it a little. He's tallish and his scythe wouldn't mount well in his snath in any provided adjustment to be fixed at a proper angle.

You need the blade to move (in it's arc) fairly perpendicular to the grass or other plants you need to cut.  The tang of the blade was clearly fashioned either for a shorter person, or for a different snath.  So I removed the blade, clamped it into a bench vise, heated the proper portion of the tang, and twisted the angle of the blade somewhere in the range of 20 degrees.  That worked out great & the guy was pleased.

I'm posting a link to a page about doing this sort of thing.  The demo shows an electrical-induction method being used for heating the steel of the tang to the required heat range for twisting, but I used oxy-acetylene — simply what I had in my shop equipment.  I hope this may be helpful to some of you who are finding your scythe uncomfortable and inefficient.

Adjust Scythe Tang
 
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Adjusting the tang angle is pretty much the only way to get a truly perfect fit of user, blade, and snath, short of making the snath completely from scratch to match the blade. You can use things like wooden wedges or shaving away part of the end of the snath to adjust things to a certain degree with some snaths/blades, but those are kind of half-measures compared to just setting the tang angle properly. Luckily, anyone with an oxy-acetylene torch or an induction heater (many mechanics have them for loosening rusted nuts) should be able to do the necessary adjustments for you if you lack the tools or know-how to do it yourself.
 
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Location: Southwest Washington 98612
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It is a lot of extra work for me to use my scythe due to the length of the snath vs the length of my legs. It seems the wood handles on the aluminum snath would move, as they're held on with nuts and bolts, but I am afraid to damage the handles (the nuts are sunk into the wood, thus no ready way to turn the nut). Reading this thread makes me think I should just go for it. Would love to post a pic, but I am away from my scythe for a few days. It is a Seymour SN-9
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Barbara Kochan wrote:It is a lot of extra work for me to use my scythe due to the length of the snath vs the length of my legs. It seems the wood handles on the aluminum snath would move, as they're held on with nuts and bolts, but I am afraid to damage the handles (the nuts are sunk into the wood, thus no ready way to turn the nut). Reading this thread makes me think I should just go for it. Would love to post a pic, but I am away from my scythe for a few days. It is a Seymour SN-9



The nibs (side handles) are a traditional twist-to-tighten configuration, and run on a left-handed thread. Turn the wooden grip piece clockwise ("right") to loosen and counterclockwise ("left") to tighten. They may be seized on their tight, so some rubber jaw pads in a vise will allow you to clamp the grip in the jaws and then use the snath as a lever (push the working end of the snath down--or clockwise--as if the whole snath is rotating around the grip like it's an axle) to break it free. Once loosened you can then slide the nib up or down the length and re-fasten it with firm hand pressure. Also, the retaining bolt for the heel plate on those is installed upside down at the factory. The nut should be on top, not on the heel plate side. Just unscrew it and reverse the direction of the machine screw.

 
Barbara Kochan
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Location: Southwest Washington 98612
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Benjamin, WOW, thank you so much. Wouldn't have thought they might be reverse threaded. I can't wait to try this out.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Adjusting your tang angle will likely help, as well. Users of average height using aluminum snaths will typically need a tang angle of about 15° to get the edge to lay the proper finger's thickness off the ground in use. You may find this blog post of mine helpful. If you don't have the tools/confidence for doing the job yourself, a local metalworker can do the job pretty easily. Just find an independent auto mechanic, machine shop, blacksmith, or anyone else who might have an oxy-acetylene torch or mini induction heater. Basically any mechanic will have a torch, and many of them will have induction heaters, since the handheld units like I use were developed for heating rusted automotive bolts so they could be loosened.
 
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