Our reel mower has been a joy to use, and it has finally started to show. The reel mower we bought last year no longer cuts like it should and has begun to almost just tear the grass. Obviously, this is not ideal. We like to keep our tools working hard for us. It is definitely time to sharpen and oil our blades. It’s such an easy bit of maintenance, and does it ever pay off with a clean perfect cut.
The idea of sharpening mower blades can seem like a daunting task, but it was anything but. Reel mowers are built to be self-sharpening. Sharpening a reel mower is simple and easy giving you no excuse not to do it often. Here’s how to sharpen a reel mower.
Adjust the cutter bar so the blade makes a firm consistent contact across the entire cutter bar. Reel mowers should have tightening screws. Only tighten a very small amount at a time being careful to not over tighten. Our newer reel mower did not require any tightening.
Turn the mower on its side. Clean any caked on dirt or debris off of the mower blades with a damp rag. I try to do this occasionally so nothing has a chance to build up. For debris that won’t come off, use a scouring pad. Dry the blades immediately. Rust is your worst enemy here.
Spread a thin even layer of lapping compound (available at your local auto parts store) on the front edge of each of the blades. After they are all well covered, turn the reel blades letting them rub against the cutting bar to sharpen the blades. Continue to turn the reel blades over and over. Once the edge of the cutter bar is polished, it is sharpened.
Clean any grinding compound from the blades and anywhere it may have gotten on the mower. Finally, spread a thin layer of wheel bearing grease (also from the local auto parts store) to lubricate the axle.
That’s all it takes to sharpen your reel mower and get it up to speed. Once again, we are ready to tackle our huge lawn without using a drop of gasoline.