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"Traditional" Austrian Scythe from Lee Valley

 
R Ranson
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It may not be the prettiest of scythes, but the Traditional Austrian Scythe from Lee Valley certainly looks functional. 



If you've never used a traditional Austrian scythe, you're in for a real treat.
Most scythes sold are narrow, thick, and heavy. They feel "clunky" and are more suited to cutting brush than grass. In complete contrast to this is the traditional Austrian scythe. The blade is wide, thin, light in weight, and very sharp. It is mounted to a straight aluminum snath (handle) with grips that adjust to the height of the user.

Because a razor-sharp scythe is essential, a water stone and watertight holster are also offered. Sold as a set of all pieces (blade, snath, stone, and holster) or as individual components. A healthful and low-cost way to maintain or harvest a small acreage. Blade measures 29" long, snath measures 59" long.


At that price (and the link is in Canadian dollars), it makes a great starter scythe... at least that's what I'm hoping.


I picked up a used one of these for dirt cheap at a yard sale a few years back but never had the courage to try it out. 

Any tips or tricks specific for this scythe? 
What's the advantage of the aluminium snath? 
What does this kind of scythe excel at?

I worry it feels very big for me.

I don't know enough about this scythe yet to give it a review.  If I can get it to work well, I would like to maintain the lawn with it (all two acres of lawn, including some steep slopes) and if it can do that, then I'll get a beautiful scythe, maybe from scythe works.
 
Ian Miller
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In my view, the danger of getting a lower-quality "starter" scythe is it will not be as effective as you would like and that 1) you develop bad habits that lead to fatigue and/or injury and 2) you give up on the scythe because it seems ineffective, inefficient, etc.

Snaths such as these that are not adjustable (one size "fits" many) are not ideal in that it will kinda-sorta fit you but not totally fit you, thus making mowing less effective and making you put more effort into mowing. Furthermore, the left grip looks like it might easily slip sooner or later (grip slippage is all but impossible with different snath designs). And I am not a fan of aluminum snaths. They won't crack or break like a wooden snath, but they'll bend, rendering them useless. I also don't like their feel as you move the blade through the grass.

I also can't tell who the manufacturer of the blade is nor can I figure out anything about the whetstone (course? fine? natural? artificial?). Anyone have insight on this?

On the other hand, splurging for a relatively-expensive kickass scythe right from the get-go, before you know for sure that this is the tool for you, might not be realistic for you, so you'll have to balance that, of course. Seeking out a mowing class, where high-end scythes are available for use, might help give you a better idea--better idea than a "starter" scythe, that is--as to whether you truly want to use a scythe for your land-management needs.
 
R Ranson
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Location: Left Coast Canada
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I can't imagine I'll enjoy using the aluminium snath, but $10 for a used scythe is definitely the kind of starter price I like. 

I also worry about developing bad habits by using a tool that isn't right for me.  But maybe with this one, I can learn enough to discover what I want from a scythe and I can practice peening and other skills on it without fear of messing up a nice one.  I feel if I can get comfortable enough with my starter scythe that I can mow a small patch and be joyful while doing it, then I know It's worth investing in a really good quality one. 

The forward handle is fixed, and the back one moves up, down and around, with sort of a friction grip.  I can imagine it slipping quite easily.


Here's a photo of my scythe blade beside a new one from Lee Valley (I borrowed from a friend to use for comparison) 



I think my blade needs some major love.

I don't know much about the whetstone except it is quite a bit coarser than the ones I use in my kitchen.  That might be because the whetstone that came with my scythe is (mis)used, not new. 
 
R Ranson
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Location: Left Coast Canada
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Does Heart Crown have a good reputation as a scythe blade?

I'm wondering if I could use my blade on a wooden snath or if I should just get a whole new kit.
 
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