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How to Sharpen Reel Mower Blades?

Old man in a garden. Senior in a blue shirt. Grandfather mows the grass in the yard.

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Have your reel mower blades gotten blunt lately? Hate it when that happens. But what if instead of tossing it away, you could sharpen its blades?

Well, as busy home homeowners, we like our tools being ready for use at all times, and when it fails to work, we either replace or try to fix it. Not all appliances can be repaired, but you can definitely fix things when your reel mower’s blades hit a snag.

Even though these blades are designed to retain their sharpness for a long time, they eventually wear and stop working altogether. While that’s unavoidable, there are several effective ways to sharpen a reel mower’s blades. And you can do it yourself by following a few simple steps and taking some precautions beforehand.

Without further ado, let’s get down to business.

How to Sharpen Reel Mower Blades?

Safety Measures Before The Job

You don’t need to hire a handyman or a technician to get the job done, but you need to follow certain safety procedures. So, before we discuss the sharpening methods, we want to elaborate on the precautions. Here we go…

  1. Make sure that the reel is secure.
  2. Do not, at any point, place your hands on the cutting edge.
  3. Avoid all distractions while going through the process.
  4. While sharpening the blades, wear well-fitted clothes and take off all jewelry. This is necessary as with loose-fitting clothes and jewelry, there’s a risk of the mower parts getting hooked on to them.
  5. Wear resistant and non-slip footwear as well as full-length pants to keep your legs covered and protected at all times. While sharpening the blades, it’s essential not to wear slippers, sandals, or any type of shoe that will leave your feet exposed.
  6. Wear a face shield and safety glasses. While sharpening the blades, a lot of tiny metal particles, sand, stone bits, and other small matter will fly around and may reach your face. Hence, you must cover your face, especially the eyes, properly to avoid any injury.

All these measures are ways to ensure a safe experience and prevent any mishap or injury. So, it’s best that you follow this basic routine before getting started.

File As a Sharpening Tool

This is by far the most cost-effective method of sharpening reel mower blades. It’s pretty easy and helps you hone the edges of the blades until they regain sharpness.

  1. Get rid of the debris

Before using the files, scrape off the stone chips, sand and other debris stuck on the blades. For this task, you can use a wire brush or a coarse sandpaper. After you finish cleaning, put the mower on a workbench or tabletop and chock the wheels with a piece of wood so that they don’t move.

  1. Secure the blades and file

Lock the blades in position by inserting a broom handle through the mower’s blades. Thereafter, press the toothed end of the metal file on the bevel edge of the first blade. Angle the file and simply scrape on the blade between 3 to 6 times, dragging it down towards the end of the beveled edge.

  1. Work till the midpoint and beyond

Continue filing your way down the blade until you reach the midpoint, repeating the brushing motion. Since the blades twist, you’ll have to stop near the midpoint, remove the broom handle and reposition the reel to work on the rest of the first blade. Continue filing the blade applying the same motion but now start from the other end of the tool.

  1. Repeat on all blades

Once the entire blade is sharpened, reposition the reel so you can perform the same course of action on the second blade, third blade, and so on, until all of them have been sharpened.

Finish with a lubricant – Once you’re done with the blades, lubricate them so that they resist rust. You can either spray lubricant directly on the edges of the blades or apply some on a rag and then wipe it down the edges.

How to Sharpen Reel Mowers Blades Using A Sharpening Compound

Using a back-lapping sharpening kit is yet another quick and productive way to sharpen dull mower blades. The kits usually come with a handle and the sharpening compound. That being said, sharpening compounds are grainy substances which when applied to the mower’s cutting edges sharpen them as the blades rub against each other.

This procedure involves attaching the handle to the driving gear of your reel mower, then using a paintbrush to apply the sharpening compound on each blade. Coat the blades generously and make sure to apply on all the blades. After that, push the reel mower backwards so that the blades rub against each other and regain their sharpness.

The reel can be driven back manually, but it is somewhat a tedious process, requiring a lot of effort. However, you always have the option of using a power drill to crank the reel more quickly, which speeds up the process, making it less stressful.

How to Adjust the Blades of a Reel Mower

We often mistakenly assume that the blades of our reel mowers have become dull, and need sharpening. But this may not be the case always as misalignment of the blades can also hinder the smooth operation of the mower. Fortunately, with these simple steps, you can realign the blades and resume work in a snap.

Below are some tips on how to adjust the blades of your reel mower:

  • Step 1 

Lay your mower on a flat surface like a tabletop or a workbench. Wedge the wheels to prevent any movement.

  • Step 2 

Spin the reel to determine the type of adjustment necessary (they are not the same always). While spinning, if you hear a screeching noise, it’s an indication that you have to reposition the blades away from the cutting edge. However, if it spins loosely, then you must move the blades nearer to the cutting bar.

  • Step 3 

After ensuring the type of adjustment needed, if the blades need to be moved nearer, place a flathead screwdriver in the screw hole and tighten the screws. Conversely, if the blades need to be positioned farther away, unscrew the bolts a little until the desired distance is achieved.

  • Step 4 

While tightening or loosening the screws, make sure it is done a little bit at a time. If it’s too much, the blades may be over-adjusted.

  • Step 5 

Turn the screws of the cutting edge in the direction opposite of the reel screws. This should also be done slowly, bit by bit, to prevent over-adjustment.

  • Step 6 

Continue spinning to find out other adjustments needed.

If this procedure is followed correctly, you can quickly fix any misaligned blade. If the blades are still blunt, then you should sharpen them employing any of the methods explained above, to get the mower working once again.

Knife sharpener and hand with blade on table, closeup.

Conclusion

It is totally unnecessary to pay a professional for a job that you can complete yourself in the comfort of your home. That being the case, reel mowers are bound to get blunt with use over time, so it’s best that you master the skill to undo the damage.

However, before we leave, we once again advise caution as sharpening any tool should be done carefully by following all the safety measures. If, at any point of time, you feel uncomfortable handling sharp parts, it’s best to ask for help.

On that note, we’ve come to the end of this guide, and we hope we could answer all your queries.

Let us know in the comments section below if you have more tips to share.

Till next time!

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