We held our first Introductory Scythe Course of the season on Saturday. With such good grass growth this spring, the course was full with a waiting list as well! Here is a nice summery of the day by one of the course participants, Bill Smith of “Growing Ruabon”.
After lunch, Phil turned to the subject of peening and sharpening. There has been an interesting debate on the Scythe Association of Britain and Ireland Google Group recently about the merits of the peening jig vs free hand peening with an anvil.
We recommend people start with the jig for several reasons. Firstly the jig has been designed to make the peening process more accessible to the beginner. It is an excellent way to become familiar with the procees of peening and what you are aiming to achieve.
Secondly, it is a good and useful tool. When used correctly it will produce a good cutting edge, and with practice it can be used to produce an excellent edge.
Thirdly, we believe that the important thing is that people learn to peen and have a tool that they will use. Freehand peening with an anvil looks very glamorous, and yes it is the tool to use to produce the very best cutting edge. However, it takes time and perseverance to learn to freehand peen well. For many people with only one or two blades to peen, it can be hard to get in enough practice. In the majority of cases, the peening jig will get the necessary job done quickly and effectively. This encourages people to peen the blade when it is needed, allowing them to enjoy the ease of mowing with a truly sharp blade. It is too easy to put the task of peening off until another day and anything that makes the task easier is to be welcomed!
Phil started peening with the jig, and produced good results with it for several years before moving on to freehand peening.
If people are interested in freehand peening, a good way to begin developing the necessary skills is to use the jig to complete the first lines of peening, then finish the edge freehand. We also recommend people attend a peening workshop, where participants can peen a blade from start to finish (using either the jig or anvil) with help and advise on hand.