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sally_in_wales
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Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 05 6:33 pm    Post subject: Scythes  Reply with quote    

Yesterday I had a very interesting conversation (with one of the dads that comes to a home ed session at the museum- I have tried to tempt him into joining the group!) about different sorts of scythes. He'd been on a course where they were taught to sharpen Austrian scythes by hammering rather than sharpening, and we were talking about whether anyone these days really really knew how to use the 'British' type sythes that we all see occasionally at farm sales but which are a real b**ger to use without experience.
From an archaeological perspective, I found it particularly fascinating as early bronze tools tend to be sharpened by hammering, and having tried to use a scythe before now I know its not nearly as easy as we'd like to think it is.
Just wondered whether we had any scythe experts here?

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 05 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I was thinking about a similar post myself. If you have a large area to clear I'd much rather use a scythe than a petrol strimmer. However, what sort to use and how do you learn to use them? Can they cope with bracken?

footprints



Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 234
Location: North Wales
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 05 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Treacodactyl wrote:
I was thinking about a similar post myself. If you have a large area to clear I'd much rather use a scythe than a petrol strimmer. However, what sort to use and how do you learn to use them? Can they cope with bracken?


My Father (in his 70's) now uses a scythe with an aluminium handle. We have always had scythes at home. My fathers tip on the sweep or stroke was to sweep the blade in an ark as is to put the top handle/grip in your pocket

My Father saw off reeds on a 3 acre patch by systematically attacking them with a scythe (and draining)

Thought the sharpening by hammering an interesting idea. I would like more details on the tecnique, bearing in mind how often a conventional scythe is sharpened. Wonder what "gear" you need to carry? The conventional scythe stone is big enough, and without a belt will pull your kecks down

Leonie



Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 731
Location: West Sussex
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 05 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'm sure Gavin uses one on his allotment, he's got a website I'm sure I saw something about it in there, or he mentioned it on a forum somewhere.

Helen_A



Joined: 26 Jan 2005
Posts: 1548
Location: MK, Bucks.
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 05 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I know someone who uses a scythe on a regular basis

He is the chap on whose farm The Mother camp takes place. He doesn't have regular net access as far as I know. But he uses a scythe to maintain the circle that is used for the camp (beautiful hilllside, compost loos, sigh.... could have stayed for a month... Cumbria.)

Article about scything in the most recent issue of The Mother...

(www.themothermagazine.co.uk and you can probably contact him (Niall) via them as well).

Yours, Helen_A

Home on the Hill



Joined: 06 Feb 2005
Posts: 313
Location: Warwickshire
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 05 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Have a look at www.thescytheshop.co.uk for lots of info about working with and sharpening mainly Austrian scythes. It's not a pretty site but has lots of interesting text.

Naomi



Joined: 26 Mar 2005
Posts: 1945

PostPosted: Fri May 12, 06 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

One of my club members uses a scythe on his land and he is kindly running a one day scything workshop for us in June. If anyone is interested in joining LSSSC and coming along feel free to PM me.
The workshop is going to be based here in Lincs,

Lozzie



Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 2595

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 06 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

People down here in the West Country may be interested to know about the Second West Country Scythe Festival, taking place on 29-30 July 2006.

http://www.thescytheshop.co.uk/festival.html

The Scythe Shop also run courses. Details are on their site.

Gervase



Joined: 17 Nov 2004
Posts: 8655

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 06 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Treacodactyl wrote:
Can they cope with bracken?


Easily. I've used one for clearing bracken, sedge and reeds in Norfolk, and once you get the rhythm right and get used to whetting the blade to refresh the edge after an absurdly small number of strokes, it's a doddle.
A lot of grasses and bracken have pretty tough stems which will take the edge off a blade surprisingly quickly, so a quick stroke every five minutes or so isn't excessive.

I can understand the logic behind hammering copper and bronze blades, as the hammering hardens the edge, making it tougher and better suited to slicing through fibrous materials. Too much hammering can make copper and bronze brittle, however, so it would be a good idea to anneal the blades every so often by bringing them to a dull red heat and letting them cool slowly in the warm ashes of a fire. That would make the metal malleable and ductile again in readiness for a new, hammered edge.

oldhibberd



Joined: 09 Mar 2005
Posts: 118

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 06 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Treacodactyl wrote:
I was thinking about a similar post myself. If you have a large area to clear I'd much rather use a scythe than a petrol strimmer. However, what sort to use and how do you learn to use them? Can they cope with bracken?


Treac,

Last year I Purchased an Austrian Scythe, purely for this purpose. Acre of steep sloping bracken. Let me tell you it works a treat.
Much less stressful and polluting than a strimmer.

It is easier to Scythe bracken than it is grass!

Blacksmith



Joined: 25 Jan 2005
Posts: 5025
Location: Berkshire
PostPosted: Sun May 14, 06 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

With the right type of steel blade, a hammer sharpened edge, will "work harden" the metal, where a ground edge (using a grinder) will often heat the blade, causing it to loose its tempered hard edge.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 33030
Location: yes
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 06 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

tufts can be a real b......
sickles , the short almost 2/3 circle bades on a short handle are pretty good for brush clearance .brush hooks ,like a bill hook but longer and lighter , are best for really rough stuff .
sythes are best on a fairly even flora and ground .
when i was 4 yrs i went to the last family hay harvest with sythe and horse .in a field they work i wouldnt want to try brush clearance with one .
great for parties with a bit of a cloak n hood

gil
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 08 Jun 2005
Posts: 18369

PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 06 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

As of the weekend, I am now the proud owner of an Austrian scythe and a copy of David Tresemer's 'The Scythe Book'. Also of a pair of whetstones (very light and portable, no trouser trouble). About to get a peening hammer and portable anvil. The scythe is extremely light, manoeuvrable, and easy to set up and get the hang of.

Apparently whetting the blade is sufficient, every 5 minutes of serious use, as Gervase says. Peening (hammering) the blade less often : before first use, and every 12 hours use thereafter keeps the ideal thickness and strengthens the blade.

Just been out for a quick trial on the meadow that was once a lawn : very impressed, as the scythe gives a much faster, neater and cleaner finish than a brushcutter or strimmer. Obviously quieter and no vibration. I'm expecting it to be a lot less tiring. Haven't quite got the hang of throwing the cut stuff into neat rows yet.

Seemingly it is better to scythe grass in the morning when it has moisture on, as it cuts more easily. However, it was toiling a bit on solid thistles and docks this weekend (though I had only just started using it).

Scythe convert here. And as dpack says, it makes for great fancy dress.

Naomi



Joined: 26 Mar 2005
Posts: 1945

PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 06 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Hey that's great Gil!
I went on a one day scything workshop with my club.They really are versatile tools. Deanom on here is doing another workshop soon, which I hope to attend.

I was really interested in the methods he used to peen and sharpen the blade.
It is important you are competent at that side of things ,as it makes a huge difference to how well the blade copes with mowing.
Deano was able to peen free hand as well as using the jig.

Good luck with your scythe. Let us know how it goes!

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 43954
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 06 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Used my daati for the first time this morning, took a lot less time to start than the strimner, less fuel too (2 slices of toast and some baked beans), quite a bit slower though.

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