[permaculture] scythes

Martin Naylor martinwnaylor at yahoo.com.au
Sun Jun 3 18:27:14 EDT 2007

     This a responce from pfaf  
     Re: Scythes and scything   Posted by: "Griselda" griselda1 at btopenworld.com   griseldacannmussett   Thu May 31, 2007 1:20 am (PST)   Scythes ­ of the traditional kind, with a long curved handle, secondary
handle halfway down, and curved blade set at right-angles at the end ­ are
dead easy to use. They are in common use in France to this day and can be
bought in any small market town for a few euros, made of modern materials
(aluminium handle, for instance).

With the modern ones, you can change the whole thing to be left or right
handed ­ maybe you have one the wrong way round for you?

You hold it so it¹s comfortable, not taking the weight with any strain. You
swing it from side to side in front of you, letting the weight of the scythe
do the work. You work along from side to side, or forward, as you choose.

You sharpen it with a Œstone¹ - carborundum. Again, it should be easy ­ you
are using the hard stone to create a new sharp edge along the blade, so you
just stroke the stone along, taking care not to cut your fingers. The stone
is harder than the steel of the blade so as it sweeps along it smooths it
back to a new edge. This is the same as using a hard steel knife-sharpener
to sharpen a kitchen knife made of soft or Œcarbon¹ steel. Imagine the
angle you want to create right along the cutting edge, and hold the stone at
that angle as you sweep along. Give it three or four runs along the blade
to make a new edge. You only need to do one side of the blade. On my scythe
I sharpen the top edge ­ following how it was made.

You do not need it to be razor-sharp. The cutting is done by the weight of
the scythe pushing through the herbiage. Depending on what you are cutting,
you might need to re-sharpen every 15 or 30 mins, so you keep the stone in
your pocket.

Scything is a really pleasant job, something which you can do for quite long
periods of time without needing a break. I really like doing it, and I am a
middle-aged woman, not terribly athletic or strong, middle height. It¹s
tremendously satisfying, quiet, simple, ancient and effective.


> Hey Guys
> We've been through this catalogue many times
> can we get this info out again or refer to past sources once and for all
> We are referring to all tools and implements
> Martin
> Dear Sue,
> This all starts getting very Grass Roots magazine, but I'm sure there
> are ways of adding a Permaculture design twist to the "back on the land"
> interest we share.
> I have a scythe (the Restorer's Barn in Castlemaine Victoria had a
> bunch of them a while back too) and a few blades that I have tried out, but
> my technique, or perhaps my sharpening is not up to scratch. I've had
> the same issue with cut-throat razors, I just can't get them sharp
> enough to do a good job. I'm hoping to learn from an old barber before they
> all die, but it might be hard to find someone alive that ever used a
> scythe for a living.
> I'm on the lookout for a chaff cutter too in the hope that I can use it
> for hand shredding/mulching of light garden prunings. Is this a
> realistic hope, or can they only handle chaff?
> Feel free to reply off list if you feel this is getting to particular
> for the general edification of the other list members.
> Cheers,
> Joel Meadows
> jmeadows at portphilli p.vic.gov. au <mailto:jmeadows% 40portphillip. vic.gov.au>
> ------------ --------- --------- ---
> How would you spend $50,000 to create a more sustainable environment in
> Australia? Go to Yahoo!7 Answers and share your idea.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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Messages in this topic (3) 
     Re: the whole earth catalogue?   Posted by: "bslark at aol.com" bslark at aol.com   stepup100uk   Thu May 31, 2007 4:49 am (PST)   Hi all

For all you need to knnow about scythes go here: 
_http://www.thescyth eshop.co. uk/index. html_ (http://www.thescyth eshop.co. uk/index. html) 

My group just starting to work with scythe here in Wales, we spent some 
happy hours clearing footpaths through our coppice woodland using some restored 
english style scythes. We were taught by our resident woodsman who showed us 
how to fit the scythe to our body and how to create a rythmical and 
consistent swing, we also learnt about sharpening and peaning.We will probably start 
teaching this at at one of our courses, if anyone is interested please let me 

visit my group at: 
_http://www.coppicew oodcollege. co.uk/index. html_ 
(http://www.coppicew oodcollege. co.uk/index. html) 
Happy swinging.

Bruce Slark

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