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For a Perfectly Cut Lawn – How to Sharpen Your Reel Lawn Mower Blades

If you have determined that the blades of your reel lawn mower need sharpening, there are several ways you can accomplish this. Which method you choose will depend on your personal preference. If you have lots of good arm strength and your reel lawn mower is pretty clean, go with the One Wheel Off Method. If your mower is dirty, use the Two Wheels Off Method so you can clean the parts and re-grease the reel shaft. If you aren’t physically very strong but are handy, you may wish to try the Push Sharpening Method. And finally, if you have drill and socket bit set, give the Drill Bit Method a go.

All Methods

To begin, you will need your push lawn mower, a flat head screwdriver and your sharpening kit.

You may wish take the handle of the mower off, but we found that leaving it in place gives us more stability when we are turning the reel. You may have to try both ways to figure out which is the easiest way for you. Turn your mower upside down. Take the screwdriver and slide it under the wheel cover to pry them off. This will reveal the axle or reel shaft. The wheel is clipped on the shaft by a E ring, sometime also called an C ring. There is a flat spot in the E ring where you can insert the head of the screwdriver and just pop it off.

Pull the wheel off the shaft. Remove the gear that sits on the shaft just inside the wheel. Slide the gear off the shaft and keep it in a safe place. Behind the gear you will find a small piece of metal called a pawl that fits into the shaft. Be careful that the pawl doesn’t slide out without your noticing or you may lose it. From here you may read on or skip to your preferred method of sharpening.

One Wheel Off Method

Seat the sharpening crank over the shaft and pawl. Apply the lapping compound to the cutting edges of the blades. Apply sparingly or it tends to run off the cutting edge, but ensure all cutting surfaces are well covered. Apply to all blades, turning the crank to turn the reel as needed to expose all of the blade. This time you will be turning the reel backwards, or the opposite way from the way it would turn if you were mowing.

Once all the cutting surfaces have been covered with lapping compound, turn the crank to turn the reel backwards for about 7-8 minutes. In some cases, the lapping compound will begin to change colour. You want to see that the cutting edge is bright and shiny with a smooth edge. This is hard work! Take breaks, Tom Sawyer your children into helping, or try using a drill bit (more below) to turn the reel.

Once you think the blades are sharp, repeat the paper test to ensure all cutting surfaces are sharp. If the paper is cut cleanly and easily then you are finished. Adjust the blades if needed.

Replace the gear, the wheel, the E ring (this will be harder to get back in than it was to pry off) and the side cover.

Two Wheels Off Method

With the mower upside down, remove the wheel cover, E ring, gear and pawl from the second side. Keep the pawl in place on the first wheel. Clean out any dirt as needed.

Seat the sharpening crank over the shaft and pawl. Apply the lapping compound to the cutting edges of the blades. Apply sparingly or it tends to run off the cutting edge, but ensure all cutting surfaces are covered. Apply to all blades, turning the crank to turn the reel as needed to expose all of the blade. This time you will be turning the reel backwards, or the opposite way from the way it would turn if you were mowing.

Once all the cutting surfaces have been covered with lapping compound, turn the crank to turn the reel backwards for about 7-8 minutes. In some cases, the lapping compound will begin to change colour. You want to see that the cutting edge is bright and shiny with a smooth edge. This is hard work! Take breaks, Tom Sawyer your children into helping, or try using a drill bit (more below) to turn the reel.

Once you think the blades are sharp, repeat the paper test to ensure all cutting surfaces are sharp. If the paper is cut cleanly and easily then you are finished. Adjust the blades if needed.

Replace the gear, the wheel, the E ring (this will be harder to get back in than it was to pry off) and the side cover for one wheel then repeat for the second wheel.

Push Method

This method initially seems more complicated, but once we experienced the hard work of arm sharpening, the ease of push sharpening seems to far outweigh the slightly longer dis-assembly and reassembly time.

We have not tried this method ourselves but came across it while reading reviews. His suggestion “Remove both wheels, remove and switch ratchet gears from L to R and vice versa, flip over pawls, apply compound and push the mower backwards for about 5 minutes”. From reading this we assume he means to put the left gear and pawl on the right side of the reel shaft and vice versa. We also assume that you would need to replace the wheels to push it backwards.

Once you think the blades are sharp, you would then need to disassemble the wheels, repeat the paper test to ensure all cutting surfaces are sharp. If the paper is cut cleanly and easily then you are finished. Adjust the blades if needed. Switch the gears and pawls back to their original sides and then replace the wheels. We will update you if we try this method to let you know how it works. I think that once it was done once, it wouldn’t seem as confusing and would be a lot easier than cranking by hand.

Drill Bit Method

There were many mentions of turning the reel with a drill. You will need to find a socket attachment that fits over the reel shaft; a 16 or 17 mm socket size were mentioned most often. We would recommend removing the pawl as it might fly out while the drill is turning the shaft. Follow the instructions for dis-assembly as for the One or Two Wheel method. If you removed both gears, we recommend you remove both pawls. Fit the socket over the reel shaft and let the drill do the work for you. No one seems to mention how long to do this but we imagine it would take far less time than by hand. Visually check your blades for sharpness after 3 or 4 minutes. Re-assemble the wheel(s) as for other methods.

That’s it! It may seem complicated at but after the first time you will be a pro!



Source by Tee Hall

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