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A little lawncraft with an American scythe.  RSS feed

 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Got a little mowing in the other day and snapped some video. You don't need an Austrian to do the job well, folks! You just have to know how to adjust and maintain a totally different pattern of the tool, as the technique of the one does not wholly translate to the other. Austrian/continental scythes are great an all that, but the American isn't even half the abomination that so many have mistaken it for.

The snath is a late-period Derby & Ball and the blade is a North Wayne Tool Co. Yankee-pattern grass blade with their signature "Monitor heel" and a gentle crowning along its length. The tang has been given the correct pitch for proper blade lay, as was supposed to be done post-purchase. That angle is much less than found on continental blades, but still required for peak performance.

If anyone ever has questions about how to properly setup, use, and/or restore an old American scythe don't hesitate to ask!
 
Mike Cantrell
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Mighty fine!

How would you compare your speed to a gas weedeater? A reel mower? A push gas mower?

(Not to imply that speed's the only thing that matters, not at all. Just looks quite fast in the video and I'd like a sense of the reality.)
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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With a 30" grass blade it's pretty darn fast! Faster than a strimmer or an old fashioned reel mower (haven't tried the newer types) and still quite dandy next to a walk-behind mower if including total time involved (startup etc) and it's much more manageable on bumpy ground than a walk-behind. Not to mention how I always just about tear my rotator cuff yanking on the dang cords on those things!
 
Jordan Lowery
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Nice job man, your smooth. I have a sythe and use it all the time. I muchprefer it to a weed eater or a lawn mower. A great workout too, I love how it works your whole upper body.

I don't have anywhere that flat to do it though. All slope and changing terrain.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Jordan Lowery wrote:Nice job man, your smooth. I have a sythe and use it all the time. I muchprefer it to a weed eater or a lawn mower. A great workout too, I love how it works your whole upper body.

I don't have anywhere that flat to do it though. All slope and changing terrain.


The spot where I took that clip is one of the only flat areas on the property!

I actually shot some more footage today that I just need to tidy up (clipping startup/end times since it's self-filmed) of a weed rig being used in variegated terrain on a healthy mix of different targets. I'll probably post them some time tomorrow.
 
Joe Moore
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Location: Breckenridge, CO
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Oh boy! Looks like I'm going to need to do some more research on scythes. Has anyone ever made one?
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Here's a little more action, this time with a weed blade arrangement on uneven ground:



 
Jordan Lowery
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Don't you love how unlike a weed wacker, when your done your not covered head to toe with little bits of vegetation. And your ears don't ring from the overly loud noise of the weed wacker.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Heck yes. And now little bits of plastic string left everywhere, no ringbarking of trees, and I can feed the clippings to my horses and rabbits without feer of colic or other digestive issues resulting from the grass being overly minced and/or laced with gas or oil.

Edit to add: Actually I mowed the fenced-in area we have on our lawn for our son to play in and it generated enough clippings to fill a 7.5 cubic ft. Rubbermaid wheelbarrow to the point of overflowing!
 
Eric Thomas
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Location: Northeast Oklahoma, Formerly Zone 6b, Now Officially Zone 7
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There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself;
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound—
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.
It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.

-- Robert Frost

Watched the video a couple of times, once with my eyes closed just listening to the soundtrack. All I could think about was this poem that I had to memorize in high school.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Did some clearing of dense reedy grasses on brutally uneven rocky ground today using an Emerson & Stevens bush blade. I used it without angling the tang whatsoever, in true bush blade fashion. It totally wrecked that grass! Full-depth swaths, no problem. Some of the widest swaths cut, unfortunately, weren't fully captured but you can see when I extended for them and how much grass was moved. That E&S takes a lovely edge.

 
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