• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

scythe vs. string trimmer  RSS feed

 
Dave Miller
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I could not find any info on the "100 yard dash" that Brian mentioned on the scythworks site, but I did find this pretty fair competition between a scythe and a 'strimmer' (string trimmer):

 
Doug Gillespie
Posts: 77
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great video.  We got our scythes from Marugg, and they have to have been some of the best purchases we've ever made.  I've never known any other tool that could take a task that is at worst onerous and at best mindless and turn it so quickly into something to be anticipated gladly.  Also, the scythe seems to me to be somewhat unique in that a better job is generally done by expending the least amount of energy - if you're working hard at it, you're probably doing it wrong. 

Doug
 
                    
Posts: 0
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Finally watched the Brian Kerkvliet video, and I gotta say....his form isn't what I've been lead to believe is good scything technique.  Not to say he doesn't get the job done, but if you were to attempt to mow an acre like that you'd be exhausted shortly - and I know this from personal experience.  When I first started I got tired quickly.  As my form improved I could mow as much as I wanted and not ever get tired. 

He doesn't twist his spine very much at all, and most of his motion is in chopping with arm strength.  You can also see that there are stems that don't get cut - it's not a "clean sweep."  I don't mean to be nit picky or critical but I really don't think this is a video from which people should "learn to scythe." 

At least he doesn't scoop, there was an article about scythes in Backwoods Home or Countryside magazine kinda recently and the photos of the guy scooping at the grass were textbook "how not to scythe." 

I say this only because the tool is NOT that efficient without proper technique.  Technique is everything.  Well, that and peening. 

There are lots of scything videos out there that demonstrate better technique, in my opinion. 

Like this one, that someone else already posted:



Look at the seriously wide width of her swath!  Look how she sways her whole body weight from side to side and twists her spine with each stroke, shuffling forward to cut the next thin layer of growth.  Look how her little arms are doing practically no labor other than hold onto the snath.  She's 14, barefoot, a hundred pounds soaking wet, and cleanly lays down tall dry grass with little effort.  Oh and then she twirls the thing around her head and on her hand at the end.  SO COOL. 

It's a seriously beautiful video, I first watched it several years ago with sound, it's too bad the audio was disabled.  One of my favorite things on youtube. 

I've never known any other tool that could take a task that is at worst onerous and at best mindless and turn it so quickly into something to be anticipated gladly.


I know!  We have grazing animals now and I don't have as much of a reason/opportunity to scythe....I miss it.  We're talking about making hay for winter by hand though.....that would satisfy my desire.   
 
                                                                    
Posts: 114
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Can a few of you folks recommend:
1) type of scythe for cutting grass
2) brand or model  you like.

I don't mind spending whatever it takes to get one.
Just would like it to get it right the first time.

Kindly....
Campy
 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
Posts: 933
Location: France
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes marina, that video was what got me interested in scything in the first place.  Isn't she inspirational!!!  Apparently she's Peter Vido's daughter.

I was very very lucky last year as our first ever WWOOFer was Botan Anderson's daughter (see Botan's video above - making the hayrick).  She taught me to scythe and then we video-ed (is that a word) me scything, sent it over the wires and Botan skyped back to say "See at x mins in the video, try doing this" etc. Wonderful.

Campy, he sells scythes and really good Austrian scythes too.  I've used both metal and wood and there's no way I'd pick up another metal one by choice - I just LOVE my wooden one.


EDITED by staff to delete dead link {Polk}
 
                                                                    
Posts: 114
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks but they are out of stock on Snaths....
 
Doug Gillespie
Posts: 77
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Campy in Nashville, Tennessee, USA wrote:
Thanks but they are out of stock on Snaths....


You might try Marugg - http://www.themaruggcompany.com/ - that's where we got ours, and I've been very happy with the product and the service.  Amy's as nice as they come.  Austrian blades, and wooden snaths made in the US.  They're in TN, by the way - Tracy City, which  appears to be not ridiculously far from Nashville. 

We use the curved snaths and the 24" grass blades.  When we have a bit more experience we might move up to a longer grass blade, but I don't feel any pressing need to.  We also have a post horn blade, but honestly, the grass blade will cut through anything up to a half inch sapling like it's hardly there.  It's amazing - you feel it happen, then you look to see what that was and  if was a wild rose bush and it's been cut cleaner than you could do it with pruners.  Given that, I've not had much use for the heavy blade as of yet. 

Hope that helps.

Doug
 
                                                                    
Posts: 114
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Doug:

Thanks for that wonderful and valuable information.
I have contacted the TN company.

It appears that most vendors in the country are sold out of grass blades!
It think we have spotted a trend, and a very good one.


 
Doug Gillespie
Posts: 77
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My understanding is that there are only a very small number of firms in Austria that produce the blades, so it would not surprise me too much if everybody ran out at once ...

Doug
 
                                    
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am new to this forum but I regularly read it. 
I used a scythe in the past (40 years ago in Europe) and I started again. I have a problem with the blade being fixed on the snath.  It shifts sideways and my angle of the tip of the blade is changing.  I tied as hard as I could the screws on the snath metal ring but they still open up or loosen up, I should say. 
You, experienced scythers;  what would you advice?  How can I keep my blade as fixed as possible on the snath to avoid tying every minute my blade?
I have the "Scythe supply" outfit with a large grass blade as well as a brush outfit and same problems with both of them.
 
Mr. Wright
Posts: 6
Location: Murfreesboro TN
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Loved the videos. Thanks for posting them, it has me interested in picking up a scythe for the "lawn" and "orchard".
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 10012
Location: Portugal
924
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
OK guys - you convinced me.  Look what I just bought myself!



It's a lightweight steel [s]handle[/s] snath with adjustable handles and a 20" grass blade so should be suitable for me to keep the grass trimmed around the young trees in the food forest and also for cutting patches of grass for the rabbits and any penned poultry.  The scythes I remember from the UK were vastly heavier than this - I think Portugal knows a thing or two about producing appropriately light tools suitable for everyone to use no matter what their age or gender. 

I took to the thing straight away and cut around a few trees no problem.  My other half, seen here posing with it and pretending he could use it, just managed to flatten a load of grass with it.  I think he's hoping I'll adopt it so he won't have to do any more grass cutting.  It was, for me, faster than any strimmer I've ever used and left the cut grass nice and long, suitable for critter feeding, unlike the mush that the strimmer churns out. 

I showed the scythe works video of the 14 year old barefoot girl to my son before he left for the farm this afternoon and I think he's treating it as a challenge.  If he takes to it, I'm going to buy a heavier handle and a much shorter, thicker, heavier blade so he can tackle some of the brush and bramble around the place. 

The whole scythe cost just under 50 euros - I'm not sure how that compares to prices elsewhere, but I thought it was pretty good value.
 
                          
Posts: 52
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

http://www.scytheconnection.com/adp/video/oil.html

This is that video with the sound.
It is NOT the Dylan but the beautiful rhythm and music of the work she is doing that makes this worth listening to.

jeanna
 
Matthew Fallon
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
yes that was a good video i remember seeing that  with sound.
on their main video page, the title of another just catches me funny 
http://www.scytheconnection.com/adp/video/
"One Hoe Revolution: a radical hoe for our radical times. "
ahem.
 
                            
Posts: 12
Location: Asturias - Spain
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
expolenta wrote:
I am new to this forum but I regularly read it. 
I used a scythe in the past (40 years ago in Europe) and I started again. I have a problem with the blade being fixed on the snath.  It shifts sideways and my angle of the tip of the blade is changing.  I tied as hard as I could the screws on the snath metal ring but they still open up or loosen up, I should say. 
You, experienced scythers;  what would you advice?  How can I keep my blade as fixed as possible on the snath to avoid tying every minute my blade?
I have the "Scythe supply" outfit with a large grass blade as well as a brush outfit and same problems with both of them.


I picture would help. Or at least a crude drawing. I have a hard time figuring out how your setup would look. But then again I am thick   

Great tool, the scythe: quiet, clean and easy on yourself and on lawn beasties. I cannot recommend it enough.
 
Savannah Thomerson
Posts: 78
Location: zone 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Woot woot *does a jig*

I just purchased my first scythe outfit from www.themaruggcompany.com

Veddy veddy excited, indeed

Thanks everyone for the useful information which helped nudge me on to buy one.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
289
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'll bet that 14 year old spent more time braiding her pigtails than she did clearing an acre!
She makes it look so simple.  She's probably helped them sell more than anything else.
Poetry of motion at its finest.
 
Jack Shawburn
Posts: 230
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyff - Marug also received email from me !

The video of the Vido family is the Best !

I saw a lot on Y-tube including some good german ones too.
"Mowing world champion" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6xphP1g4Rs&feature=related
"sensen? = scything
There are many more once you view one.

I try to study their technique - my guess is that the adults are a bit less flexible hense, less body twist. One foot slightly ahead of the other seems important for balance.
Pulling with the arms to impart momentum then a slight body twist....

any other good sites to teach technique?
 
Evelyn Bishop
Posts: 16
Location: Chiriqui, Panama at 400 meters Wet Tropics
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Down here in Central America the machette rules. I haven't seen anyone use a scythe, but it looks like it might be easier on the back! Lots of bending with using the machette.
 
                                  
Posts: 22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I used a scythe in the past (40 years ago in Europe) and I started again. I have a problem with the blade being fixed on the snath.  It shifts sideways and my angle of the tip of the blade is changing.  I tied as hard as I could the screws on the snath metal ring but they still open up or loosen up, I should say.  


I found that happened with my new snath for the first few hours of use.  Keep putting it back to the right place as often as you can and (on mine anyway) eventually the wood in the snath will dent slightly in the right spot.  Does the tip (toe) of the blade ever dig into the ground?  That's a great way to make the heel of the blade shift position on the snath.  Or hitting a rock or something can shift it.  

But maybe the screws need some more friction on the threads?  What about a drop of lock-tight or something?

I just peened my blade for the first time in almost a year.  I was comparing the lawn pre-peen and post- peen, two sections right next to each other, and I can see that the newly peened blade is better at getting those really fine, short, small stemmed grasses that have seeded.  

We're using scythes quite a bit to mow pasture even though we're attempting to graze cows or pigs where ever we can.  (lack of fences make this a challenge to say the least)  We use the scythes to take off seed heads after the animals come through.  We have few numbers of animals and so even in rotational grazing it's tough to get that completely mowed look that comes from having more animal density working on a section of pasture together.  The scythe comes through and cleans up what the animals don't, and the grass is stimulated to grow back.  
 
                          
Posts: 5
Location: Cascadia Bioregion
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have some reed canary grass, which gets 6' tall and DENSE. When it falls over, it makes a mat about 18" deep, that the domestic geese will not forage in, for new grazing. If we scythe it down in the fall, then the geese can reach the new growth in the spring. I also want to echo the statement, if you want to use the cut material for anything, use a scythe. Friends have make bee skeps and placemats woven from our reed canary grass. For clear info on how to use a scythe, read David Tresemer's The Scythe Book.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1095
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
45
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Obviously it wasn't a Vermont field. We grow rocks here. A string trimmer would win easily. I love scythes but that's reality.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
289
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You do grow some nice rocks there.  I've seen some grow big enough to flip a pretty sturdy tractor.
Rocks, t-bar posts, tight spots.  Each tool has its place.  A new spool of "string" costs a lot less than a new blade, and never needs honing or peening.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
this scythe deprived girl was so thrilled that her son bought the new plus one ryobi string trimmer

I totally love my plus one ryobi 18 v  battery operated tools and use them way more than is even slightly normal..

I have neary every tool and more than double of some (circular saw, drill driver, flashlights etc)..

we have been waiting for a good quality string trimmer to come out and he got it on Friday (but it was raining here and I was in the UP for Sat car show)

today I will try it out..so very happy to have it..and hope it outperforums all the wonderful ryobi plus one tools.
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am a scythe newbie!  I need some advice for picking a blade.  I have 10 acres of rocky and steep grassland.  There is some brush, but not a lot (small acacia).  There are not a lot of weeds, but the grass has not ever been mowed (just grazed).

The grass is pretty thick in areas, and some rocks are fairly big and hidden.

What sort of blade/setup should I consider? 26" or longer?  I fear that I will probably hit my share of rocks while learning and getting used to things, how will the blades hold up to that?
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
update on the plus one ryobi string trimmer:

runs about 10 to 20 min on a charge, does NOT cut heavier weeds and certainly not tree seedlings bigger than the tiniest ones..however, it does cut grass and flowery weeds pretty good, which is what I needed at the time.

I also have a DR Trimmer, however it needs mechanical work before I can use it again as it won't start and have a gas trimmer that needs a cable replaced..so I'm thankful for what I have.

we have scythes, I need to learn more about them as well so I can do the heavier stuff in between repairs on the mechanical items
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
89
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Vela, walk around an area beforehand to pick up rocks, then practice in that area.  Them rocks will eat a blade up. 
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
that is fine for a small practice area, but not for the property.  There are literally millions of rocks here.
 
Dave Miller
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My ground is pretty uneven and I hit the ground (and sometimes rocks) with the scythe all the time.  This makes 1" of the tip a bit dull but the rest of the blade stays sharp.  I used to use a self-propelled mower, then a gas weed whacker, then an old, heavy scythe I borrowed from a friend.  Once I got the hang of it, the scythe is WAY easier than the mower or weed whacker.  And lately I've gotten pretty good at targeting single weeds (blackberry & thistle) among grasses I want to keep.  The reach of the scythe is amazing.
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've got an old, American style scythe that I might play around with for now, and then look at the quality Austrian ones once I've destroyed this one on the rocks...
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My favorite tool for harvesting my hays for my rabbits.
Not inexpensive but it is incredibly adjustable and very well made too.
http://www.leevalley.com/US/garden/page.aspx?cat=2,2160,40710&p=10198
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Incidentally, for general weed whacking I also use an Ames 12" grass hook with a 36" handle.  It works really well for cutting brush too.  I learned to use a scythe when I was a youngster from an "old timer" from Ukraine. My Dad had one of the curved handle varieties.  I was really too little to use it effectively and have discovered that my preference is a straight handle with adjustable handles. 
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
PS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzdjOkLQw1s&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugSO54WKm8I
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Really good onformation here:
http://www.scythesupply.com/
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
paul wheaton wrote:
Brian talks about the scythe vs. the string trimmer:



A suggestion for any and all that are handy with a draw knife and do want to make your own Snath.  Check out companies that sell Bow Staves.  Find one that you like and then spend a day or so turning that wedge into something more rounded.  I just ordered a couple of Hickory Staves and am going to make a couple of Snaths.  One for my existing 55CM blade and one for my future 90CM blade for harvesting my hay.  I have made a few Bow before so I am not a stranger to using draw knives and cutting mortise and tenons by hand for that matter.  I find wood working relaxing.
 
Stonewall Greyfox
Posts: 13
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
Gwen, I don't know if a scythe would work for what you are talking about.  When I said you could get precise with a scythe, I meant like next to a fence or around trees, that kind of thing. 


How do you get precise with a scythe around fences?  Wouldn't it be hard to get the arc and not hit the fence?

Paul B.
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
StonewallGreyfox wrote:
How do you get precise with a scythe around fences?  Wouldn't it be hard to get the arc and not hit the fence?

Paul B.
The video may help.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gL2_chKPWjE&feature=related
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
artfarm wrote:
Down here in Central America the machette rules. I haven't seen anyone use a scythe, but it looks like it might be easier on the back! Lots of bending with using the machette.


I live in Central America and I use a scythe, but I think I am pretty much it. I can cut faster with a scythe than most people with a weedwhacker, but it takes practice.

What I love is the scythe leaves all the grass in a row, which I then just throw to the sheep, who eat it just about as fast as I can cut - and then leave very nice fertilizer. Instant composting. 
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22494
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
89
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was a bit reluctant to experiment with peening on my scythe, the darn thing took forever to find and cost a fortune when I finally found one.  A hammer on that sharp edge?  I'll ruin it!

I had an old machete, beat up, rusty, with a handle made mostly of duct tape.  Down on the floor I had the head of a sledgehammer that I kept around thinking I might do something with it some day.  I can usually find a hammer of some kind if I look hard enough.  That garage has anything I need it seems.

I set up the sledge, grabbed a hammer in one hand, the machete in the other and commenced to beating on the thing with all my might.  The machete was crap to begin with when it was new, so if I stove it up, its a loss I can live with.  Before too long I was starting to see a little bit of progress.  Not bad for a first timer.  That old blade was so tore up it had more teeth than me.  A little more practice here and there, trying out different hammers, adjusting the sledge, I figure I may yet save that machete. 
If I live long enough.

Time to frig with the scythe. 
I still dont have a proper peening jig, but the sledge is hardened steel and fairly flat.  I allowed I could try a few light blows on the scythe, see if I could nudge that one bad spot back to life.  The metal on the scythe is considerably harder than that Made in China machete.  It's much more forgiving and will take a good solid whack.  I kept at it and within a few minutes that little nick was looking more like a sharp edge.  It's in fine shape now.  I could probably take down the clothesline with it.

Peening is a kinda simple thing.  Getting the feel of the hammer, getting the blade lined up just right, hitting it consistently all takes a little bit of practice.  If you want to practice on something before you go after the scythe, there are all sorts of things you can use to try out your technique before you go after the big prize.  Kitchen knives, an old putty knife, maybe you have an old lawn mower blade hanging on a nail.  Take it down, smash it around.  Give it a couple of hours, you'll get a good feel for things.  Move on to the scythe when you are ready.  There's nothin to it.

 
Hang a left on main. Then read this tiny ad:
Ernie and Erica Wisner's Rocket Mass Heater Everything Combo
https://permies.com/t/40993/digital-market/digital-market/Ernie-Erica-Wisner-Rocket-Mass
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!