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Will_Linton_UT

Large Sickle for yard care

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I have a yard care business and I want to make a very large sickle like the ones these ladies have, but I am extremely new to bladesmithing and I need to know what kind of metal would be best suited for this kind of project.  I have watched the video dozens of times and it looks like there may be a fuller in the blade as well.  Any suggestions, or resources you would recommend checking out?  I have a friend with a half acre of pasture this would be nice to have to do some trimming with.

 

 

 

Edited by Will_Linton_UT
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Some one may know better, but given what I know about scythes, I'd bet that they are low carbon, maybe even the equivalent of mild steel.  Grass is very abrasive and so rather than have a hard edge which cuts for a while, but is hard to sharpen, the blades are soft, but a couple of strokes on a stone, or a peening over a stake puts the edge right back on them.  It would also not surprise me if they had a "T" shaped spine.

 

Geoff 

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Maybe something like 1050?  It hardens well enough with a water quench to hold its shape, but sharpens up pretty easily as well.

 

I have a very old and rusty sickle hanging up in my shop for decoration.  It's quite a bit smaller than the ones in the video.  If I remember later today (after I get done plowing snow:angry:) I'll spark it and see what it shows.  I'm not good enough to determine a specific grade, but I can tell the difference between mild and high carbon.

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The Swedish "Klassiskt Jarnsmide" book shows the making of one.  Only available in Swedish, but lots of pictures

Edited by Gerald Boggs

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George, The instruments used in the video are sickles, which are different from scythes.  I own both scythes and sickles.  To give a little explanation regarding scythes, there are two main types of scythes: the American Scythe, which has a heavy hardened blade and a bent handle(snath); and the Austrian/European Scythe, which has a light, less hardened, blade, and a straight or slightly bent(just at the tip) snath.  The American scythe is sharpened with either a file or a coarse whetstone(cigar stone) as its primary sharpening instrument while the Austrian scythe is peened in order to establish the primary bevel.  Both scythes are finished off with a medium to fine grit whetstone(canoe stone) to give them their final edge.  The spine for the American Scythe blade has a ridge established on the outside edge of the blade, kind of like an upside down V.  This performs two functions, to provide an angle guide for the canoe stone to give the right sharpening angle for the blade, as well as a mild reinforcement of the blade.  The Austrian scythe has an L shaped vertical cross-section.  The ridge(rib) at the outer edge of the blade provides the main rigidity and reinforcement for the softer metal.  

 

Sickles are one-handed tools, while a scythe is a two-handed tool. Attached are pictures of my Austrian scythes, my American scythe, and some of the sickles I have bought.  I want to make my own, very large, sickle, like the ones the ladies are using in the video. Based on what I can observe, it appears they are made of hardened steel and have a fuller in the middle of the blade.  

 

20191113_192707.jpg

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American Scythe.jpg

Sickles.jpg

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14 minutes ago, Gerald Boggs said:

The Swedish "Klassiskt Jarnsmide" book shows the making of one.  Only available in Swedish, but lots of pictures

Well, I read Danish, so it shouldn't be hard to make the adjustment.  Now I just have to acquire the book.

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One of my favorite (I've many favorites ;)) blacksmiths on Youtube is  Torbjorn Ahman.  He has a good video on forging a Scyth.

 

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Chris, that was an absolutely fantastic video on forging an Austrian scythe blade. Thank you.  I have been trying find as quality of a video as this.

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My pleasure.  I like his videos.

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Anyone know if a cv axle would be hardenable for this, and whether it would be of sufficient quantity to make one?  I have a couple cv axles as scrap and I thought it might be worth a try. 

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The only way to tell is to take a heat on one and quench it and see if it gets hard.  Depending on where you are, a bar of steel of a known quality (like 1060) is only a few $.

 

Geoff

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The Austrian scythes are a lower carbon steel, like 1045 or less, so you can shapen by peening without cracking the edge.  I don't know what CV shafts are, but GM rear axles from the 1990s were 1050, sway bars were 5160.

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Probably the same, mid to low carbon.  Super hard steels for cutting tools is more of a modern thing.  Butchers knives used to be HT'ed in the low 50's, I'm guessing that these were as well.  You could sharpen it in the field with just a few passes on a stone, or by peening it.  If it were hard, you'd need more tools than you could fit in your pocket, and maybe a dedicated sharpener.

 

g

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Yeah, low to mid carbon, tempered soft.  The few old ones I've handled seemed to be a spring temper.

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I'm a little late to the party, but there is also this video.

 

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