Cylinder lawn mower sharpening. How to Maintain Push Reel Mowers

Reel mowers are quiet and don’t spew air pollution like gas engine mowers do. They’re simple to maintain, and sharpening the blades is easier than you might think.

In 1962, when I was a teenager, my father gave our neighbor, Mr. Gruder, 10 for a reel mower of my very own. The ash handle shone with age and use, and it had a canvas grass catcher. Mr. Gruder had built the reel mower from parts — the finest custom-made machine of its kind ever built. Pushing it revved up the blades, a cylinder of curved scimitars that sliced each blade of grass to the same height. Mr. Gruder gave me a lesson on how to safely sharpen the blades to razor sharp. “Wear gloves,” he said, as he demonstrated.

For nearly a year, I mowed lawns with my trusty push mower. I wish I still had it. But two years ago, I found a Super Chief reel mower in an antique store. It had a broken handle but a spotless canvas grass catcher. It was just 75 for a piece of American history, stored indoors for 50 years.

Buying a Reel Lawn Mower

A good vintage reel lawn mower handle should be splinter-free, with solid handles baptized in boiled linseed oil. But if a bad handle is the only thing wrong with a used machine and it has a good price, buy it. For 10, I commissioned a high school shop class to make a handle for the Super Chief.

Old machines in good working condition are rare, but worth the hunt because they’re often inexpensive. But are they worth the hours of restoration? To me, yes, but you may be happier with a more recent model — something you won’t have to repair or restore first. The Mercedes of modern reel mowers is the German-made Brill Razorcut 38, and it’s priced accordingly (250). But you can also find economy models, such as Scotts Classic Reel Mower, priced at a bit more than 100. Tip: The grass-catcher attachment is worth having on all models, as reel mowers don’t mulch clippings.

Maintaining and Sharpening a Reel Mower

You should perform basic maintenance on a reel lawn mower after every third use, and the procedure is perfectly simple. First, put it up on a workbench. If you grovel at its level, it’s easier to be injured by the blades and lose tiny parts in the grass.

If it’s old, the blades probably need to be sharpened, and you need practice to do this right. Moving the wheels forward causes the blade cage to rotate rapidly because of the movement of a series of gears (which might need to be oiled or repacked with grease). Check the rubber wheels. If they’re slick and can’t get traction, the reel won’t turn efficiently. You can temporarily repair this by making grooves in the tires with a three-corner file — until you have time to look for replacement wheels.

Always wear leather gloves when working with the blades for any reason, including debris removal when mowing. To hone the blades, jam a wooden stick through the cage to prevent it from turning. A coarse sharpening stone and a light application of cutting oil will make each blade sharp within seven or eight light (but even and smooth) strokes. Follow the angle of the blade as closely as possible.

Use the same number of strokes on every blade to ensure a uniform distance of all blades from the cutting bar, which should almost touch the whirling blades, leaving room for the width of a blade of grass. You may need to adjust the cutting bar when you’re done. If your blades slice easily through a sheet of newspaper placed on the cutting bar, you’ve done it right.

Some experts advise dabbing the honed blades with grinding paste and pulling the mower backward for 10 minutes. But I tried out this method, and can tell you that death-by-boredom may occur in half that time. A young person, if desperate enough, might do it for 20, if nobody sees them. (Those were exactly my nephew’s terms.)

On most models, the gears in the wheel assembly aren’t hard to access, but you must be careful not to lose any nuts, bolts or pins. (Drop them in a small can or jar for collection and oiling.) Remove the wheel covers and pack the exposed gears with light grease. If you’re lucky, the wheel covers on your model will have lubrication holes. After each mowing, use a garden hose or air compressor to clean the blades and wheels. Then spray everything liberally with WD-40.

Always mow on a dry, clear day — weekly is best.

I don’t miss the pollution, the stench of hydrocarbon exhaust, or the unrelenting decibels of a gas engine mower. Instead, I have the silence, the pure scent of newly mown grass, and the satisfaction of light muscle-powered work. No earplugs required.

cylinder, lawn, mower, sharpening

If you’d like to know more about sharpening blades on conventional gas-engine mowers, read A Midsummer’s Sharpening: How to Sharpen Your Lawn Mower Blade.

Do you use a push reel mower? Have you sharpened its blades? Share your experience in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев section below.

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How to Sharpen a Reel Mower (Step-by-Step Guide)

Mowing the lawn is a chore that most homeowners would love to avoid, but it’s one that needs to be done on a regular basis to keep the lawn looking healthy. One of the tools that you can use to mow your lawn is a reel mower. However, if your reel mower is not properly sharpened, it can become difficult to operate and cause damage to your lawn. In this article, we will show you how to sharpen a reel mower and keep it in good condition.

  • Reel mowers use a belt instead of blades to cut the grass, and they are often easier to operate than other types of mowers.
  • Keep the mower deck clean by scraping off any grass after using it.
  • The cost of sharpening the reel mower is around 30.
  • The direction of sharpening the reel mower is holding it at a 45-degree angle and using the honing rod to sharpen the blade

Does a reel mower need to be sharpened?

A reel mower typically does not require sharpening, but there are a few things that you can do to keep it running smoothly. Check the blades for any chips or cracks, and if they’re noticeable, have them repaired or replaced. Keep the mower deck clean by scraping off any grass and leaves that accumulate over time. Finally, sharpen the blade if it starts to become blunt.

How do you sharpen a reel mower blade by hand?

Reel mowers can be a hassle to sharpen by hand, but it can be done. It is important to use a sharp blade to avoid damaging the machine or yourself. Here are the steps for sharpening a reel mower blade by hand:

Use a honing rod to keep the blade sharp.2. Hold the blade at a 45-degree angle and use the honing rod to sharpen the blade on one side only. Be careful not to sharpen too much off of the edge of the blade or you will risk cutting yourself.3. Repeat on the other side of the blade.

How much does it cost to sharpen a reel mower?

There is no one definitive answer to this question since the price of sharpening services will vary depending on where you live, the type of reel mower being sharpened, and the skill level of the sharpeners. However, assuming that you can find a reliable sharpener who does a good job and charges an average price, here are some ballpark figures to give you an idea:

-A professional sharpener who does a basic sharpen on a reel mower will charge around 30.-If the reel mower has more complicated blades (like a riding lawnmower), the cost will probably increase since the sharpeners will need to use more time and energy to get it looking good. A basic sharpen on a riding lawnmower can cost upwards of 60.-If you have an electric reel mower, there is not really any need to get it professionally sharpened unless there is something wrong with the blade (like it’s rusty or damaged). In that case, a professional could charge around 50-100 for a basic sharpen on an electric reel mower.

How much does it cost to sharpen a reel mower?

Typically, it costs around 10 to sharpen a reel mower. However, this price may vary depending on the brand and model of the reel mower. In general, most brands and models of reel mowers require around two hours to be properly sharpened.

How often should a reel mower be sharpened?

Reel mowers can be sharpened using a whetstone or a sharpening stone. A reel mower should be sharpened every 2 to 3 weeks if it is used regularly.

Sharpen reel mower with sandpaper

If your reel mower is not cutting the grass as smoothly as it used to, you may need to sharpen the blades. To sharpen the blades, use sandpaper to smooth out the blade. Follow these steps:

Remove the blade from the reel mower.2. Place the sandpaper on a flat surface and place the blade on top of it.3. Turn the blade around so that you have a good view of both sides of it.4. Start sanding off any rougher spots on one side of the blade.5. Hold the blade stationary and keep sanding until the blade is completely smooth.6. Repeat on the other side of the blade.

how to sharpen a reel mower bedknife

If you need to sharpen your reel mower bedknife, here are a few tips to follow. Firstly, make sure that the blade is properly lubricated before beginning. Secondly, use a sharpening stone that is at least 800 grit. Thirdly, hold the blade at a 45-degree angle and sharpen along the grain of the blade. Finally, use a polishing cloth to polish the blade’s surface.

cost to sharpen reel mower blades

The cost to sharpen reel mower blades varies depending on the type of blade, the blade sharpener, and the location. However, in general, sharpenings typically cost between 10 and 30.

If you have an electric sharpener, expect to pay less than if you sharpen the blades using a manual sharpener. Manual sharpeners are generally cheaper than electric sharpeners but require more personal attention because they use a stone instead of an electronic motor.

The location also affects the price of a blade sharpening. In most cases, blade sharpenings cost more in metropolitan areas than in rural areas.

How to Sharpen a Reel Mower Step-by-Step Guide

Reel lawn mowers are ideal for small lawns. They are environmentally and budget-friendly. over, it doesn’t emit any fumes or noise. It also helps maintain a healthy lawn. Instead of other mowers rotating blades that chew up and whack off the top of the grass, the reel mowers blades act like a pair of scissors that cut off the top of the grass efficiently.

How Often Should You Sharpen Reel Mower Blades?

It depends on lots of factors, like in the mowing time when the blades meet with small stones, rocks, and any kind of hard obstacles it loses the blade’s sharpness. But generally, Mowerslab experts recommend every 20-25 hours of usage take an interval and sharpen the blades. But some people do it once or twice a year. Conversely, if you use a reel mower in a commercial location, we recommend sharpening mower blades once a week for optimal performance.

Working with dull blades will damage the grassroots. And make your lawn brown instead of green. To maintain a healthy lawn you have to do it.

In this article, we will provide you a step-by-step guide on how to sharpen your reel mower blades within an hour.

However, before sharpening reel mower blades we required some tools that will save time, effort and make your work much easier than ever.

  • A file
  • A hand gloves
  • Protective eyeglasses
  • A regular sharpening kit.
  • A back lapping sharpening kit.
  • Use of power drill with a sharpening attachment.
  • Use of metal finishing sandpaper.
  • A range

How To Sharpen Push Reel Mower?

The rest of the machine exists to support those two main parts. Wheels drive a gear that spins the 5-7 blades and the blades angle snip the grass better. Also, there is a roller behind the bed knife that allows adjusting the cutting height.

Well before sharpening the blades, we have to take some safety precautions

  • Wear hand gloves, protective eyeglasses to protect your hand and eye.
  • Wear tight-fitting clothes; no jewelry. Loose-fitting clothes and jewelry tend to get hooked on the machine parts and thereby leading to avoid accidents.
  • Don’t sharpen the blades if you’re tired or on drugs
  • Wear landscaping boots and jeans pant that will help to protect your feet and legs from the object that may fall or be thrown
  • Wear a face shield to protect your face from any kind of tiny metal particles, sanding stone, and others.

All these gears protect you from accidents while shaping your mower blades.

Our main goal is to make your reel lawn mower blades like a bread knife.

So, we don’t want to waste your precious time. Let’s get into the definite reel mower blades sharpening guide.

How To Sharpen A Reel Mower With A File

A mill file is an ideal tool for sharpening reel mower blades. However, many hardware stores will carry special mill files that are specially designed for sharpening a reel mower blade.

Well, here we mention the 5 steps to sharpen reel mower blades with a file.

Press carefully to the toothed end of the metal mill on the dull edge of the first blades. Now use the file to scratch the edge of the blades, and always ensure that you go forward and backward throughout the length of the blades. And also don’t try to make the new cutting angles.

You’re just trying to remove one or two millimeters from the dull cutting angle.

Do it several times. It fully depends on the blade’s conditions. But we recommend at least up to seven times.

Once you have sharp the edge of the blade, now you will need to remove the broom handle and carefully rotate the mower cylinder to fully access the next blade. Then re-secure blades and repeat the sharpening process for all the dull blades.

When you’re done sharpening all the blades, apply great to avoid rusting of the metal blades. On the other hand, Spray (light) some penetrating lubricant like WD40 on all the moving parts.

Also, MowersLab experts recommend you should coat the blades with penetrating WD40 lubricant or a little bit of linseed oil soaked into the clean paper towel.

Now we are taking a detailed look at how to use a sharpening kit to sharpen the reel mower blades.

How To Sharpen Reel Mowers Blades Using A Sharpening Compound

In 2021 there are some mower manufacturers offering some special sharpening kits to sharpen the reel mower blades. Generally, they provide “Back Lapping”.

It’s yet another easy and efficient way to sharpen dull mower blades. It comes with a handle and a sharpening compound. The sharpening compounds are applying on the cutting edge.

Now we use a handle or lapping tool to turn the reel mower driving gears. For the razor sharpness, you have to move the blades in one direction for 3 to 4 passes.

In our experience, it’s not working as well as the file. And also takes more time and effort.

But the advantage of using the back strapping and sharpening compound method, it cuts the blade angles equally so that you don’t worry about matching the bevel angle of the bales.

How to Adjust The Blade Alignment Of My Reel Mower?

Properly adjusted blade alignment ensures a clean and efficient cut without any training. However, it won’t damage any grassroots and helps to maintain the green lawn.

Now we know how to sharpen the blades. Adjust the blade’s alignment is the major part of this definitive guide. Follow these 4 steps and adjust the blade alignment.

Step – 1: Lay down the mower handlebar on the workbench for easy access to the reel and chock the two wheels with small wood blocks to prevent them from moving and turning the cutting cylinder.

Step – 2: Spin the reel with your hand several times to determine the type of adjustment required. If you do not hear any kind of metal scraping sound, everything is fine. But if you hear metal scraping sounds, find the position and adjust the blades aways from the horizontal cutting bar. Now, If the blades spin freely, move it closer to the reel cylinder.

Step – 3: If you think they are not in the right position, take a screwdriver and tighten the blades and make it right positioned. Also, if you need to bring the blades closer, simply tighten the screws.

Step – 4: Spin the blades again to determine if any further adjustments are needed. Check and turn the adjustment screw a little at a time until you achieve the proper position.


You shouldn’t hire a professional or go to a service center to sharpen a reel mower. You can do it by yourself with these simple steps.

Honestly, reel mowers are really handy gardening tools to maintain a healthy lawn.

We are at the end of this article.

Hopefully to say you enjoy our reel mower sharpening definitive guide. And also if you have questions or confusion feel free to drop your Комментарии и мнения владельцев.

Our experts are ready to help you.

Desmond J. Hernandez

I’m a lawn mowing expert and gardening enthusiast. I started my own lawn care business in college and have been doing it ever since. I love taking care of lawns and gardens, and I’m always looking for new ways to improve my skills. I’m also a big fan of composting and using natural fertilizers.

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Sharpen a Push Reel Mower

Easier than it looks.- basically reverse the rotation and lap with a grinding compound

Here is a video of the mower cutting grass once it is all sharp.

I recently bought a Fiskar push reel mower and it is great:

Step 1: Basics

A push reel mower is like scissors, except one blade is fixed and the other blade is on a reel.

The blades make a spiral so they are only cutting in one small spot at a time.

  • Make it so the blades rotate the wrong way
  • Put grinding compound on the blades, this makes the blades into there own sharpening stones
  • Push the mower around until it is easy, this is called lapping (maybe reverse lapping. )
  • Wash off the grinding compound
  • Make the blades so they go the right way again
  • Mow the lawn

Step 4: Swap the Gears

Put the left gear on the right side and the right gear on the left side.

Now it will run backwards.

cylinder, lawn, mower, sharpening

Step 6: Adjust the Fixed Blade

The blade that is fixed (not on the reel) can be positioned by adjusting two screws.

You want to make it so the fixed blade is touching the reel blades, so that it is hard to rotate the blades (but not impossible).

Step 7: Apply Grinding Compound

Putting valve grinding compound on the blades makes them into their own sharpening stones. The blades will sharpen each other, eventually they will both be sharp and fit together perfectly.

They have this at auto parts stores and on amazon: Valve Grinding Compound

Step 8: Push the Mower Backwards

Pushing the mower backwards will now sharpen the blades. Push the mower until it the reel is moving easily, then adjust the screws on the fixed blade so that it is is hard to push the mower. Now push the mower until it is easy, again. You want to repeat this until the blades are shiny all the way across.

How To Sharpen Blades On A Reel Lawn Mower

Step 10: Wash Off the Grit With Water

As the blade gets sharper you can start to wash off the grit with water. This makes the blade easier to turn. You also want all the grinding compound to be gone by the time you are done.

Step 12: Swap the Gears, Again

Put the gears back on the correct sides. So that the mower will go forwards.

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Комментарии и мнения владельцев

Thank you so much! Revitalized a free-bee mower. 🙂

Couldn’t be bothered changing the gears so reverse rotated it by hand. Did end up with a lot of grinding compound on my hands as I spun it. Worked brilliantly. Now I have sharp blades and got such smooth exfoliated hands too. Double win.

Thanks Marc, great instructable. I wasn’t able to get the wheels off to change the gears around, but even rotating the reel backwards by hand was enough to sharpen things up nicely. Makes mowing the lawn a pleasure again. And the grinding paste worked great on my grass shears as well. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Just wonder should the pin be swaped too. How are the pins to be positioned? Can you illustrate further with photos or scatches. Thanks.

I just swapped the gears and didnt touch the pins. I had no problems.

Maybe different models require the pins to be turned. it didn’t work for me until I turned the pins over so the squared edges and curved edges went in the opposite direction from usual. Then I switched them back when I put the gears back in the correct wheels.

I used this method today on my 5 yard sale reel mower and it worked! The only thing I found in the instructions that was not clear was that the pins have to be turned over so that the straight edges catch the gears correctly when you switch them back and forth between sides. The ends of the pins are curved on one side and squared on the other and this does matter. In my first attempt, I didn’t notice this detail (and although there is a picture in Step 4, it is not explained) and the blades would not turn at all. Then I disassembled the wheels again and noticed that the pins were not squared on all edges. that was my aha moment. I went on to complete the project and then mowed my lawn with great satisfaction.

Very useful instructable, Marc. Thank you!

Reviving this, because it certainly was helpful to me and only for the price of valve grinding compound!

Step 6:I would simply add: The screws that adjust the fixed blade towards the curved ones work in concert; you loosen one while tightening the other other.

Try to keep the same adjustments for both sides so that you keep your fixed blade parallel and grinding the curved blades evenly.

cylinder, lawn, mower, sharpening

Fantastic instructions, thank you!

When you say make it so the blades are going in the wrong way, do you just flip the lawn mower over a push it?? Not sure.

You have to flip the gears to the opposit side so you can push it backwards.

My reel mower is older and the blade wheel can move forward of backward. So in theory do you agree I can just spin the pup backwards? I am not worried but for the life of me I see no difference. Thanks.

Hey this can be much easier I think. My 1940’s reel mower spins forward and spins backwards so QUESTION: Can I apply the compound and let her spin backwards? How many minutes is normal? Thanks.

I sharpened my recently restored Craftsman with the blade and gears swapped and tan it bacwards. You can actually feel tge blade moving more and mo r e freely. I purchased a reel mower sharpening kit with the grit in a jar. That old mower cuts grass like scissors now. Once it got sharpened i tightened it a bit more and added more grit to take off more uneven wear due to heavy rust for so many years. So I did this process twice. Switched tge gears and flipped the blade back around and replaced the tires and tried it out on Newspaper. It sliced the paper without ripping on evety area I tried. The mower cuts even thick patches of grass with ease.

Suzie, where did you purchase your sharpening grit in a jar.

Going to try this this evening as the closest reel mower sharpening place is 35 minutes away charges per blade. :(. Will let you know the results. 😉

Why would you want the lawn mower run back wards. I need to get my blades sharpen and I can’t do it. Also how can I cut the tall grass after you mow the grass.

Worked like a charm! The compound only cost 4 at the auto store and I can probably sharpen the blades 8 to 10 times with one tube of it.

Excellent instructable! Thank you

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