Push Mower Sharpening Kit


Do-it-yourself kit to sharpen your push mower

This week Mark Frauenfelder extolled the virtues of ye olde reel blade push mower for cutting grass. I wholeheartedly agree with him. I have been using a push mower for over 20 years and it is great. There is a zen pleasure in getting a little exercise with the quiet whirring snipping sound of the reel.

However, it took me about 15 years to realize that you need to keep the blades sharp. At first I figured it would take some skill with an angle grinder to get it slicey again. After some basic intertubing, I found there is a better way. The American Lawn Mower Company SK-1 Sharpening Kit ($16). It is simple to use and does a fantastic job getting the reels AND the fixed shoe blade sharp. It takes about 20 minutes by hand or about 5 minutes with a hand drill. You apply grinding compound to the reel blades, then turn the reel in reverse. With the hand crank, it takes about 10-15 minutes of turning. With the tomahawk hand drill, about 5 minutes gets it done. My first sharpening took longer and also needed a tweak of the shoe height since I had gone so long without sharpening. Since then, one sharpening in the spring and it is good to go – cutting grass like with a pair of scissors. The snipping sound of sharp mower is very satisfying. Actually, the test for sharpness is to put a sheet of paper in the blades and cut it. When sharpened right, the reels will cut the paper cleanly – just like scissors!

Here’s a video that shows how it’s done:

-- RJ Godin 05/3/19