I've been using a european scythe for several years now and love it to pieces. Actually, that's part of why I'm posting. It's in pieces!
I bought an outfit from the Scythe Supply up here in Maine. Picked up both a ditch and bush blade with the custom fit wooden snath. Everything works beautifully and gets tons of use around here. There's one big problem, though - the middle grip keeps coming loose. It's done this so many times, and I've had to strip/sand/re-glue so many times, that I'm at the point where I'm going to need a new snath entirely. It's all the twisting force when hitting thick and unyielding materials that's doing it, of which we have lots to content with (from saplings to rotting stumps, to huge/heavy clumps of perennial grass sticking up several inches above the grade, to the many, MANY rocks [that's our best growing crop!], to the walls of the ruts in all the old skid trails).
So what's the verdict from those who've tried everything? I mean, I'd love to stick with wood for the simple reason that it feels good in my hands, but this grip-twisting-out issue really needs to be stopped. It slows down the work, screws up everyone's schedules and makes things more difficult (very unpermie...things are supposed to be EASY!).
1) Will metal actually do the trick to stop this craziness from happening 6 times a season? Or will I probably just end up with a useless, bent over snath after a few weeks of whacking down the 2" thick yellow birch saplings growing into thickets in my so-called pastures? I'm not joking - I do beat my scythe mercilessly upon everything in my path, and I'd have it no other way... can the aluminum snaths stand up to this tyranny?
2) Is that inherent spring and flex of a good hardwood handle going to be *sorely* missed using one of these aluminum snaths? I'm talking literal sense here - I don't want to find myself getting sore using the scythe.
3) Is there a simple, smart, and durable way to make a wooden snath, specifically those like the Scythe Supply sells, not suffer the problem with twist-out of the lower grip? I'd love to continue sending them my business (they're local after all, and especially these days, local matters hugely). I'd imagine a metal pin driven through the snath at the grip attachment would help, but that could weaken the shaft and makes me very nervous. Perhaps something other than wood glue to secure the grip?
There's so little info out there on this specific issue, yet I imagine I'm not alone in encountering it... I'm hoping a fellow permie will have some advice for me / us As always, thanks for all the responses ahead of time.
First and foremost, you might consider one of the wooden Swiss snaths from someone like One Scythe Revolution. But if trying to "fix" this notorious issue with the Scythe Supply stem, you can pre-drill and pin to keep it from loosening, or you can turn the hole into a rectangular mortise and tenon arrangement instead and make your own replacement stem/grip. Making your own grips is recommended for those snaths anyhow since the stock ones are ergonomically lacking compared to the Swiss snath.
Benjamin Bouchard wrote:First and foremost, you might consider one of the wooden Swiss snaths from someone like One Scythe Revolution.
I'll contact them about pricing and shipping one. Those prices do make me cringe a bit, though. You know what they say - you get what you pay for, except when someone's charging twice as much as the item is worth due to shipping it in from halfway around the globe and paying a fortune in import duties I'm amazed no one is making these within the continental US.
Benjamin Bouchard wrote:But if trying to "fix" this notorious issue with the Scythe Supply stem, you can pre-drill and pin to keep it from loosening, or you can turn the hole into a rectangular mortise and tenon arrangement instead and make your own replacement stem/grip.
Drilling and pinning sounds like a nightmare for the snath shaft strength, which I'd love to avoid. Like I said in the OP, I tend to beat the poor thing mercilessly while clearing brush and can't image removing any more wood. It makes me nervous just thinking about it. And making my own stem and grip would be great if I had the time, tools and skills to make something I wouldn't be ashamed of, but that's just not the case. The idea of a rectangular attachment helping stop the twisting-out issue makes good sense, but my version of rectangle would likely come out closer to a professional's version of "oval" at this point
Well, not much really. I used contact cement on the stem and lower handle which already gave out and for now I'm just dealing with things coming apart now and then while I work. Not much left to the season so trying not to worry about it too much yet - this coming winter will be time for trying a few things to make this work better.
I did put a couple larger nails through the old snath with my bush blade for the roughest stuff, and that got some serious exercise a couple months ago as I cleared out some regrowth of fir, hemlock and birch - that's holding up so far, but I do find myself grabbing the shaft of the snath as I work rather than using the handles when I encounter tangles or thicker stems.
So problem not solved yet. Hopefully I can make some progress this winter with something durable enough to stand up to the mess I'm working with