Reel mowers are an environmentally friendly option for keeping the yard in shape and provide you with healthy exercise to boot. As with all mowers, the blades of a reel mower can dull over time. This reduces the mower's efficiency and can even damage your grass if the blades become too dull. A little forethought can help you keep your blades sharp without extra work.
Avoiding Tall Grasses
One factor in keeping the blades on a reel mower sharp is the height of the grass that you cut with it. Reel mowers aren't intended for use with tall grass or weeds, and using one for grass that is too tall will wear the blades out or cause them to go out of alignment. Mowing more frequently lets you keep your grass short while removing no more than one-third of the grass length in each cut, something that is important for the health of your lawn.
Refreshing the Blades
If your reel mower begins to dull, but the blades still seem like they're in good shape, using a refreshing kit can restore sharp edges without spending a lot of time sharpening the blades. The kit consists of a crank and an abrasive paste that you apply to the blades and the bar at the bottom of the mower. A wheel must be removed and replaced with the crank, which is then used to turn the mower approximately 100 to 150 times. The mild abrasive in the paste sharpens the blade edge and then is washed away with plain water.
Sharpening Nicked Blades
The blades of your reel mower may eventually become nicked or otherwise damaged. If this occurs, a refreshing kit can't restore the blades. Sharpening kits are also available that combine an installable bar with rough strips of sandpaper-like abrasive material. As the blades of the reel mower turn, the abrasive material brushes against them and wears down any nicks or chips that have formed on the blade edge. This restores the edge and sharpens the blade at the same time.
As an alternative to sharpening the blades on your reel mower by hand, you can install a blade sharpener that sharpens the blades automatically as the reel turns. These sharpeners are aluminum cylinders that clip to the mower, allowing the blades to brush against them as the mower is pushed. This wears down any rough portions of the blades, sharpening them to the correct angle for optimal cutting.
Taking care of your reel mower before storing it for the winter helps ensure that it's sharp and ready to cut come springtime. Clean the blades of your mower to remove any grass or dirt that may be stuck to them, and then sharpen or refresh the blades if they need it. Once they're sharp, apply a light coating of penetrating oil to prevent rusting over the winter months. This keeps moisture from damaging and dulling your blades while the reel mower is stored.