Sunday, July 28, 2013

Peening The Ol' Scythe Blade

Every so often, my scythe blade gets some pretty big dings in it. This is usually from my not paying attention and swinging it into things like fences and rocks.
So I have to go in and sharpen it. I hope this little explanation can help someone else understand what peening is all about.
The dents in the dings in the blade need to be hammered out in order for the scythe
to perform at its best.
Peening is the art and science of hammering a blade into shape. Usually, for me anyway, this means hammering out the dents in the blade. Dents like the ones shown above. And this one in the middle of the blade:
A big dent like this really reduces the efficiency of the cut.
So on Friday, I took out the blade and the peening jig, headed to the composter, and got hammering.
I use the compost bin as a peening station because the bottom of the jig fits very nicely in between the pallets, and it provides a good height and good stability for the work.
There are two different caps for the jig that provide different cutting angles. The #1 cap (one line) provides a wider angle, and is best for hammering the big dents into shape. The #2 cap (two lines) finishes everything out.
To start with, I lay the blade as flat as possible on the jig, and press the blade right up against the pole in the middle of the jig.
Getting ready to peen.
The cap rests on the edge of the blade. I use light strokes on the hammer, tapping the top of the peening jig cap as squarely as possible. Ihit it about 2-3 times a second, not very hard. It takes about a minute to a minute-and-a-half to make a full pass down the blade.
Then I rest because my hands and forearms are tired.
I check the blade at that point, and then go back to the problem areas and give them extra attention. Sometimes, I find I have to flip the blade over to hammer out some really nasty dings.
One the problem areas are done, I'll go through and do another full pass with the #1 cap before setting it aside and readying the #2 cap.

Thing #3 stopped by to make sure I didn't slice off a finger or something.
He was also fascinated by the compost.
The #2 cap provides some finer work, and really make the blade a lot more uniform. I use the same process - a good once-over, extra attention to even out the lingering problem areas, and a final pass. The hammering is light - I'm not driving a nail here. It is a methodical, gentle shaping of the metal that produces a sharp edge, not a brute force whacking into place.
I'll usually give it a second final pass, just to be sure.
The blade comes out wicked sharp and uniform. All of the dents are cleared up (compare to the first two images):
The really bad dent in the middle, still not 100% smooth, but it is even and sharp.

The dings at the end end are smooth, clean, and sharp now.
The only thing left to do before hittin' the hay (a ha ha ha!) is to give it a really good honing.
I ended up scything for just over two hours on Saturday. I cleared out the space around out lagoon septic so the water could get more sunlight and wind.
I'll be taking the cutting and storing the hay in the shed for the donkey and sheep this winter.
Next, I have the half-acre hay field to attack.....

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