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Big scythe questions. Do scythes really have a use? Am I delusional? American or European?

 
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So, long story short. I hate weedeaters, it isn't that I don't think that they don't have their place... they do and people should use the tool they feel most comfortable with. They are fairly easy to use and take no skill really. I however find them uncomfortable to use, and discovered scythes through watching a youtube vid.
I personally don't care about the noise the weed eater makes, or climate really. I don't think the amount of polution a weadeater makes when I use it from time to time really makes a difference, I also don't worry about fumes as I mostly use an electric one. However I'm kind of sick of things like string debris etc. shot at my shins, hands and even face XD. And based from what I've seen scyths (when sharpened well) can navigate obsticales better than weed eaters. I plan to use it around some trees in my yard, my green house and around my house where the plastic siding meeds the ground (it's already sort of dinged from a previous owner). I don't think I'll replace my lawn tractor however, as I find with more large scale mowing I'd rather use it because all I have to do is sit and drive and when you have a larger field things tend to progress much faster when using something like that.

I already got a sickle from scyth supply for my weeding, I figure that could replace my fiskars grass shears. They work pretty well, but I find when weeding around my vines, particularly if I've left them to run along the round, when I try to cut the grass it can be hard to judge the blade and what it will cut the vine, the grass or both. And I figured it could be a stop gap while I save for more of the scything gear/maintenece stuff I need.  Anyhow did I judge the usefulness of a scyth in modern days right? Or am being naive when it come to this?

Also which scythe would be better/affordable to use? I want to get a new one, one I don't have to refurbish or anything, I'm not very experieced and I don't have much in way of smithing/crafting... I've read you don't peen american scythes and I've read you can... I also read that american scyths (while heavier) are harder and require less edge maintence.. and then I've read there's really little difference aside from slight difference in swing technique. I took a look briefly, at baryonix the looked about the cheapest when I came to scythes, followed closely by scythe supply. I don't know if makes a difference, but physically... I am short 5'5"~5'6".
 
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Charles,  

I hate weedeaters that said I love my scythe.  I'm not sure which model you have but I'm guessing you went through the process of measuring your cubit and height in order to get the correct blade presentation.    It doesn't really matter what your height is as long as you have the scythe set up to your body.  

The blade you choose also makes a difference, there are longer curved blades that help you get up close to tree trunks.   There are grass blades.   Then there are the shorter stouter blades that allow you to clear brush and cut out small saplings.  There are specific suggestions for blade size and shape, based on your experience level and the intended use.  

This information is available on the Scythe Supply website.
 
I regularly use my scythe to clear weed vines from under large evergreens and to clear a fence line that runs around an acre or so.  It is so much faster and more effective than doing it with a weedeater that I couldn't go back, especially considering that I actually enjoy scything.


For some, the downside of scything might be the maintenance of the tool.  For me, this is part of the joy.  I am far from good at sharpening and peening my scythe but I enjoy the process.  If you are having a difficult time peening the scythe I suggest getting the jig-set that they offer, it makes the process quite easy.

There are also suggestions and videos on how to set the tool up and how to choose which tool works best for your needs.  Scythe Supply

If you learn how to properly use a scythe that is set to your body dimensions,  it is quicker than using an electric or gas weedeater.

I think the European scythes are the scalpel compared to the U.S. version which is more like a butter knife.   This is just my personal opinion of course.      

When it comes to affordability I find that you get what you pay for.  From wood- gouge, to battery operated drill you are going to pay for a good tool.  If you know you will take good care of a scythe then I would purchase one that works for you.  If you know you won't maintain it I wouldn't get one.

Maintenance is a must with a scythe.
.......................................................

This is the video that introduced me to the scythe  



 
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Scott Foster wrote:
I think the European scythes are the scalpel compared to the U.S. version which is more like a butter knife.   This is just my personal opinion of course.      



I can't imagine you've ever used a properly sharp one, then. With a freshly ground 30" American grass blade I can easily take a 20"+ deep swath. I can get a blade so sharp that the first cut doesn't even carry the cut grass into the windrow, and instead it's carried by the second cut. A well-sharpened American scythe should cut short lawn grass even when used at very low speed.





Sounds like for the tasks you're envisioning it should do well. Stylistically speaking it's a matter of preference, and good and bad examples abound of each type. You don't want to peen American blades for a number of reasons, including the fact that it risks damaging them, but more specifically because many vintage blades are laminated. If you peen a laminated blade, your edge will end up being made out of the cladding iron rather than the hard edge steel sandwiched in the middle of the blade.

As an overview, American blades take and hold an edge much longer, while Euro blades place a higher emphasis on low weight. This goes for blade attachment hardware, as well, with Euro rings being a thin band of steel welded to a thick plate with a couple of grub screws in it that tighten down on the broad tang to hold it in place. This is prone to slippage in use, but a very light form of construction. American snaths most typically use an iron reinforcing collar and heel plate on the end of the snath with a loop bolt to affix it in position. The oval opening of the loop bolt clamps against the rectangular cross section of the tang to create a two-point contact that locks the blade solidly in place with no risk of slippage. European scythes usually use a right arm-dominant stroke with the left hand acting as the pivot (a third class lever) while American scythes are typically used with the left hand creating a drawing action to drive the stroke and the right hand as the pivot (first class lever) that gives better mechanical advantage. European scythes are beveled by peening roughly every 8 hours of use to keep the geometry behind the edge thin for cutting efficiency. Due to the much slower wear experienced by American blades, they only need regrinding about 1-3 times per season depending on use level and if they take any damage in use. Both do their job well when properly maintained, but require different kinds of maintenance and use different strokes and tuning. :)

Edit: fixed a typo.
 
Charles Garzon
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I think I'll go with the American style scythe because it seems to be a bit cheaper. The snath is a little more expensive but the it's hard to beat blades at like $45 (I can grind out the rust, and I have drill not a particularly powerful corded one though), and the grinding point at 15. Also the other perks to me seems to be the maintenance and toughness of the blade. Of course I doubt I'll ever scythe more than 20-30 mins tops. Sure it's a little bit heavier and slower but I feel getting a better deal in the long run. I'm prolly gonna go with an allround blade (ditch, weed blade, somewhere around 20" maybe a little longer), I'm gonna do mostly weading with herbacious weeds of 1/4" or so (mainly young briar/blackberry, horse tail weeds, and foxtails), and light fescue mowing. I have larger blackberry bushes but I'll mostly keep them/use pruners on them.


Less maintenance, $166 vs $204+~
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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I'd personally argue that American scythes are no slower than Euro ones. The stroke is slower on average, but it can take a bigger bite on average as well. The heavier weight can actually be of advantage in heavy growth. It's still quite light overall, but the extra mass helps create a flywheel-like effect where input energy at the start of the stroke is stored as inertia that's expended at the end of the stroke, leveling out the amount of input energy required across the stroke and keeping you in the aerobic zone.
 
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