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My scythe arrived  RSS feed

 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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I think I'm going to need some time to learn to use it efficiently and how to both make sure it is sharp and judge just what "sharp" is for this tool. Although I ordered it explicitly pre-sharpened, I don't think it arrived with a proper working edge

But, I found using it to be not physically demanding and, overall, rather pleasant. I can imagine that when I'm trying to get some task done under time pressure with other things that are waiting to be done and almost equally time sensitive, I may find myself wishing for a faster way But mostly, I think I'm going to enjoy this tool.

 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Where did you get it from? Got photos?
 
Peter Ellis
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Ben, I got it from Scythe Supply in Maine. No pix, sorry. Used it again yesterday, this time in the jungle that is my backyard. Still seems like I need to get it sharpened a bit better, or I'm just doing something wrong in my technique Seems intermittent in the way it cuts - which I would think says I'm doing it wrong, but it also might be that the edge is not uniformly sharp and so cutting well on the sharp part(s) but not so well where it is less sharp.

Still working out the kinks
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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It's likely a combination of the two factors, like you mentioned. The snaths on Scythe Supply models are pretty atrocious so you'll want to look into making your own wildwood one as soon as you reasonably can--I imagine it's probably compounding the problem. Try drawing a piece of paper along the edge and see if it catches, snags, or tears in any spots and refine the edge in those regions. Also make sure that your edge is free of burrs or a "wire edge". In technique keep on experimenting with the "tiller" of your hand positioning to make sure the lay of your blade is proper, keep the heel of the blade down, and pay attention to the way the toe of the blade enters the arc of your swath. A lot of it is just time on task, but you'll definitely have a rough time with figuring things out if the edge is in poor shape.
 
Ben Plummer
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Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b
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Have you picked up The Scythe Book? Lots of detail on use and maintenance.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Just ignore literally every single thing that The Scythe Book says about the American scythe. The man didn't have a clue what he was talking about in that regard. (If interested in learning more about the Anglo-American pattern scythe, see my guide-in-progress HERE--it's a wonderful tool, just very different from the Euro type.)

I recommend The Scythe Connection for info on the continental European pattern scythe. Peter Vido is the unquestioned global guru with regards to them.
 
Ben Plummer
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To be fair, in the second edition about a third of the book is by Peter Vido. Thanks for the link to your guide, I'll have to give it a read. Much easier to find old American style scythes than European. Might have to take a trip up to Liberty Tool again to see if I can find a good one.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Yup! Indeed it is, though even Peter knows little about the American pattern at this point in time. I'm one of the few individuals (the only, actually, that I'm aware of) that's actively engaging in research on the American pattern, though there are many of us that prefer the style for our purposes. It's just a shame that so many take an unfairly negative view towards its value as a tool--it's just built and used differently and has a different range of strengths and weaknesses vs. European style scythes. I own and use both kinds and for my land and uses the American is by far my favorite.

Edit to add: The document itself I linked to is a "living" one and continues to see updates and refinements. I keep uploading new versions to the same address so whenever edits are posted (and I'll be doing some today if all goes to plan) the link will continue to show the most recent version. A simplified version of the guide will actually be distributed by Seymour Manufacturing once I finish with some minor formatting and the addition of more diagrams.
 
Ben Plummer
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Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b
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Good to know, I'll write a shell script to download it periodically. I was browsing your site last night, I haven't found any place around here that sells good knives. Was buying from Ragnar's Ragweed Forge but will definitely check your site out again next time I'm in the market. A Youtube channel too? Good stuff.

Edit: Hah, just noticed you are in Maine too. Do you have a physical storefront as well?
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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No storefront at this time--strictly online.

I just uploaded a small update to the guide, by the way. A few more images and a couple of notes about grinding and sharpening narrow blades.
 
K Nelfson
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Sharpening a tool is a valuable skill that will translate directly from the shop to the kitchen to the bathroom sink (if you use a straight razor). There are some differences but learning how to sharpen one item will simplify your life. Oh, and it makes cutting the grass easier, too.

Congrats on the scythe.
 
Alder Burns
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Remember you are much more likely to cut yourself sharpening a scythe than you are using one...at least that's the only way I've managed to do it! You need a long stone, probably specifically for scythes. The stone you might have for, say, your kitchen knives isn't long enough, because with the scythe you have the blade held still and you are holding the stone in your hand, rather than the other way 'round!
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Alder Burns wrote:Remember you are much more likely to cut yourself sharpening a scythe than you are using one...at least that's the only way I've managed to do it! You need a long stone, probably specifically for scythes. The stone you might have for, say, your kitchen knives isn't long enough, because with the scythe you have the blade held still and you are holding the stone in your hand, rather than the other way 'round!


Quite! Only time I've ever cut myself with a scythe was when I was distracted while touching it up. I like to use either a traditional "canoe" shaped scythe stone for coarse work or a Jewelstik brand "Stubby" diamond steel with a hook made out of heavy gauge wire run through the cord hole on the end so I can hang it from my belt loop. However, just a couple of days ago I got one of these and it instantly became my favorite scythe "stone". The edge it leaves is astounding and with a minimum of material removal.





Not an inexpensive piece of kit at around $80, but well worth it. The performance it delivers really is absolutely superb.
 
Peter Ellis
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Ben Plummer wrote:Have you picked up The Scythe Book? Lots of detail on use and maintenance.


Came as part of my "outfit". Have skimmed through it but not read in depth yet.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Here's an example of the kind of crap growth that I consider an American head and shoulders above the European pattern for. It ain't pretty pasture here. You can also see me using the Balkan steel at the beginning. Works real slick.

 
K Nelfson
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In all other areas of sharpening, dressing the finished edge is always an important point. For scythes, it's rarely mentioned. I think a coarse steel would be a good alternative to using an abrasive stone so frequently.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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It's actually a very fine cut! You'd have a hard time believing it actually does anything just by feeling how fine the striations are on it, but man--what an edge it gives!
 
Matthew Farnsworth
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Location: Northern Michigan
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I found when I got my scythe last year, that it didn't take long to understand why scythers often refer to themselves as Scythe enthusiasts. It is a magical wonderful tool.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Isn't it, though? Nothing like getting some good time with the scythe. Swish...swish...swish...!
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Benjamin, question for you. On a couple of occasions you have indicated that you don't find the Scythe Supply snath to be satisfactory.

As I am a total novice with no experience using any other snath, I don't know whether mine fits properly or not

Could you elaborate on what makes a proper fitting snath, and perhaps on where you find the Scythe Supply version falls short?

I am enjoying my scythe, but I am finding the need to work over an area multiple times to get a complete cut. This may be due to my not getting a proper edge, or to poor technique, or maybe it's a problem with the fit of my snath - or - quite possibly, all of the above

In any event, it would be helpful for me to have a better understanding of what I should be looking for in terms of how the snath fits.

Thanks for your time.

 
Benjamin Bouchard
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The ScytheSupply snaths have round, unangled grips that force the user to hold the tool excessively hard and puts strain on the elbows, for starters. The ScytheSupply snaths were designed to be easy to make, market, and sell--with much less thought put into how they would actually work. For information on properly selecting or making a snath I suggest consulting the reading materials on ScytheConnenction.com--there's a ton of it to go through and it's very well written. I, however, prefer American pattern scythes, so my own suggestions come from a totally different school of use.
 
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