Sunday, January 13, 2013

Newly Arrived Scythe Tools

I grew up with a father who was one of the few men in the neighborhood still using a scythe, and the only one using a European-style blade. I think I remember Dad telling me once that purists peened the blade rather than whet it so often, but he never learned the trick. Instead, he used a common carborundum whetstone like those who used American-style blades.  A few quick, rhythmic strokes on opposite sides of the blade every now and then kept the blade almost razor sharp and mowing smoothly. Dad was the best hand with a scythe that I ever saw and could mow nearly as even as a lawn-mower. I grew fairly skilled with the tool myself, but could never come close to matching him.

When I arrived home one day last week, there was a box waiting for me on the hearth. Inside were some anxiously anticipated tools from Scythe Supply. A few days earlier, I’d ordered the tools pictured below, a special hammer, two peening anvils and a peening jig. The hammer was a bit over-priced at $29, but it had a special narrow peen, so I decide to go for it anyway. I have no gripes with the head, but the grain in the handle is deplorable. Luckily, it will only be used to tap, not to wallop anything with, so it will do. The wide, slightly domed face is made to be used with the narrow peening anvil. That anvil reminded me of a hardy for a blacksmith’s anvil, except for the slightly arched shape. The somewhat arched narrow peen of the hammer is to be used with the larger, square anvil, which is slightly domed. The two anvils went for $16 each, which seemed reasonable. The peening jig is made to do the same job with less skill required. Its trio of parts set me back $40, but the well-machined device seemed worth it, especially considering what it can do.

I ordered a couple videos with the tools, which I could probably have done without. I wish now that I’d ordered a couple of their natural whetstones, but I’ve got an antique, super-fine one that will probably work for now. Now, I need to make a holder for the stone that will hold water and hang from my belt. Plus, I need to figure out how to put a T-handle halfway up Dad’s old snath, so it will work like those used in Europe. Sorry folks, but the American blades and snaths are man-killers in comparison. If you recall, I mentioned a few weeks ago that I sold my weed-whacker to a neighbor. © 2013



Michael Silvius said...

I remember seeing the Scythe Supply folks at a couple of farm fairs here in Maine a few years back. They had quite a few eastern European tools that caught my attention.

Ralph Goff said...

Interesting.Got a couple of olc scythes here. One with a really twisted handle was no doubt used by my grandfather to cut the first crops he grew here. The other with a straight handle was one that my dad bought at a farm auction. I've tried them out but am too spoiled by the modern lawn tractor..

Pumice said...

I felt like I was reading a Greek Commentary. I think I figured it all out. It is always amazing what could be done before all the modern technology came in. I would also assume that you are now ready to harvest the wheat when all else fails.

Grace and peace.

Gorges Smythe said...

I think I've heard that they do some fairs, Michael.

So am I, Ralph, but there's a few spots that I can't quite drive over.

I don't grow wheat, Pumice, though I used to have a grain cradle.