Wash grass clippings off mowers before storing them to prevent rust.

How to Sharpen a Cylinder Mower

by Mary Lougee

Cylinder mowers are manual lawn mowers that are environmentally friendly and do not emit fumes as gas-powered mowers do. A cylinder mower is also called a rotary or reel mower, and it only requires sharpening the blades and occasional oiling to cut lawns effectively. The smooth motion slices through grass with a scissors motion and the clean cut helps retain moisture and repel diseases in the grass blades. Sharpening your cylinder mower takes only a short amount of time and is easily performed by most homeowners to improve lawn quality and turf health.

Turn a cylinder mower on its side on a flat surface, such as a workbench or driveway. One wheel should be pointing up.

Insert a flat-head screwdriver into the slot in the wheel cover and pry it up to remove it. A C-ring that holds the wheel on is now visible.

Place a flat-head screwdriver into the center of the C-ring and pull it out of the wheel. If the C-ring is tight, you can use a pair of needle-nose pliers to pull it off the wheel.

Place one hand on each side of the wheel and lift it straight up and off the lawn mower.

Lift the metal gear straight up and off the mower. Insert the open end of a cylinder mower crank handle onto the area where the gear was.

Apply rotary mower sharpening compound with a paintbrush to each of the five curved blades. Add sharpening compound to the cutting edge of the bar that contacts the blades to cut grass. Turn the crank to rotate the blades to access each one.

Turn the crank toward the handle of the mower to sharpen the blades. This is in the opposite direction that the blades rotate when the mower is pushed. You will hear a grating sound as the sharpening compound on each blade and the cutting edge make contact.

Continue turning the crank for about 100 to 150 turns or until the blades are shiny and sharp on the cutting edge.

Rinse off the sharpening compound with a garden hose.

Remove the crank handle and replace the gear. Center the wheel on top the gear and insert the C-clamp to hold it in place. Center the wheel cover cap over the C-clamp and press it down firmly with the palm of one hand to lock it in place.

Items you will need

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Cylinder mower crank
  • Cylinder mower sharpening compound
  • Paintbrush
  • Garden hose


  • Cylinder mower sharpening kits that include the crank handle, sharpening compound and a paintbrush are available at hardware, automotive stores and home improvement centers.
  • Mow your grass with a cylinder mower when you want to remove 2 inches or less of the grass blades.
  • Blades need sharpening about every two years to keep them sharp, instead of annually as on a gas lawn mower.
  • Placing a cylinder mower on a workbench alleviates back strain from bending during the process.


  • Keep your fingers and any other objects away from the turning blades when sharpening them.

About the Author

Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.

Photo Credits

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