DO YOU KNOW HOW TO SHARPEN YOUR PUSH MOWER?

PUSH-mower-title

Say hello to my push mower.  It’s green and red and old.  Not olden days old, but old.  Floppy disk old.

push-mower-2

I knew how to *tighten* the blades on this push mower so they ran across the metal bar, but I could never quite figure out how to actually sharpen it.

blade-tightening-bolt

To move the cutters closer to the bar so your lawn mower makes that cool “click, click, click” sound reminiscent of an episode of Leave it to Beaver, you just have to tighten the blade tightening bolt on either side of the lawn mower.

tightening-push-mower-blade

Easy.

But sharpening the actual blades is something else entirely. And without sharp blades on your lawnmower, you might as well try cutting it with a sock puppet. You’ll get the same results.

And then I found out how to sharpen my lawnmower blades.  With a blade sharpening kit.

sharpening-blade

And angels sang and neighbours joined hands in song.

My lawn would no longer look like a 1980’s haircut.

cutting-grass-with-dull-blade

blade sharpening kit is just some blade sharpening compound and a brush.  But it also comes with something very important. A handle that you have to insert into the wheel assembly so you can turn the mower blades over and over again to sharpen them.

To sharpen your push mower you need to take one of the wheels off.

This part might be scary to you; taking your lawn mower apart.  But you only partially take it a part.  Just a little bit.  Barely at all. Just a little off the top.

I know it scares you because it kind of frightened me too.  And I don’t frighten all that easily.  I even got in bed with Jerry Springer once. I have photographic evidence. Which I didn’t spend too much time searching for.

I accidentally found this blade sharpening kit at Lee Valley one day when I was wandering around but you can get the same one on Amazon for $14.

O.K. let’s sharpen those lawn mower blades!

blades-before-2

Before I get to the steps for sharpening, here’s a look at the blades before.

applying-blade-compound

  1.  Brush the sharpening compound on the edges of all the mower blades.

how-to-sharpen-push-mower-22.  Pop off the plastic cover on the left  wheel (the left wheel when you’re pushing the mower).  It’ll just pop off easily.

remove-u-ring

3.  Remove the U Ring. This one’s trickier.  Don’t try to bend it or force it.  Just use a screwdriver or knife and stick it under the U ring and gently pry the U ring up.  It’ll seem like it’ll never come off but all of a sudden it’ll PING right off and you’ll spend the next 10 minutes looking for it.

removing-wheel-from-push-mower

4.  Once the U ring is off you can just lift the whole wheel right off.

cog

5.  Under the wheel you’ll find the cogged jiggy/jaggy wheel assembly thing.  Gently pull it straight up and it will come off.

hand-crank-place

6.  Under the jiggy/jaggy thing is where you’ll attach the hand crank that came with your kit.  Which is the whole reason you had to remove the wheel.

hand-crank

7. Attach the hand crank and turn, turn, turn in a counter clockwise motion.  You’ll be going in the opposite direction than how the blades normally turn when you push the mower.  For 10 minutes you’ll turn.

Then check your blades.

blades-after

If your blades are evenly shiny and clean looking you’re doing a good job.  If not, put a little more compound on and keep turning.  I had to do it twice and frankly could have done it another time but I got sick of turning.

8. Wipe off any remaining sharpening compound.

blades-after-2

After sharpening the blades, put everything back together in the opposite order of how you took it apart.

push-mower-sharpened

Then take your mower for a test run.  It should be much smoother, with a cleaner cut.  Also if you’ve noticed your grass looks brown on top where you cut it, sharpening and adjusting your lawn mower will stop that.

How to Sharpen your Push Mower

  1. Apply blade sharpening compound to blades.
  2. Remove mower wheel.
  3. Insert hand crank.
  4. Turn counter clockwise for 10 minutes.
  5. Reassemble.
  6. Wipe off excess compound.
  7. Cut grass.

 

Maintaining things like your lawn mower, dryer, dishwasher will help them last a lot longer.  If I keep this up with my push mower in years I’ll be saying “It’s old. Not olden days old, but old.  The Cloud old.”

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27 Comments

  1. Melissa says:

    Ordering as we speak. Who knew???

  2. Linda in Illinois says:

    haha jiggy/jaggy thingy.. cracked me up. I had a reel mower years ago.. loved it but did not have the strength to push my lawn any longer. I wish I would have kept it now. So how am I the second to comment? I’m usually the last or near last, it’s 8:24 am in Illinois.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda! The “allow comments” was accidentally turned off on this post until Fish Pedicure texted me to alert me that no comments could be made. So I only turned comments on a few minutes ago. 🙂 Congratulations on being first. Or second. One of the first anyway, lol. ~ karen!

  3. Lavada says:

    Probably one of the more fun aspects of your technical posts is the fact that I learn parts names. My son points out to me continually, “EVERYTHING is not a doohickey or thingy! I don’t know what you’re talking about!!” Seriously, who cannot fathom, “Hand my that thingy that I gave you just before the black doohickey there”? I mean, how much clearer could that be; right? You and I would work well together I’m sure of it. LOL

    • Karen says:

      Jiggy/Jaggy is a very, very technical term. I’m almost positive I read it in the instruction manual. 😉 ~ karen!

      • Penny says:

        There are many technical terms known ONLY to TAODS readers (and those who probably would be if they once read one of your posts). My family know the difference between crud, gunk, gubbins and wazz (mainly degrees of viscosity) can tell a whatchamacallit from a farfallnugen and would never put an oojamaflip where a patoolibongo should go.
        I have an ongoing fight with my daughter, though – she claims that ‘smirridge’ is the word for squeezing past someone when there really isn’t room to do so, whereas I steadfastly maintain that what she’s doing is ‘squinching’, and that smirridge is used for the application of Marmite to toast.
        Care to adjudicate, Karen?

  4. Rebecca says:

    I have a push-mower – and I love it and it’s click-clickitiness, but I have been neglecting it and the grass is suffering, and I now have to mow the same plot over and over and over just to cut it – so I’m suffering….so, tonight, I am going to go straight home and sharpen those blades! Yes!…Right after a nap!

    Thanks Karen! Your posts are always an inspiration and motivation to really get stuff done! I wish I had signed up for your 3 months of getting things done 🙁 but I don’t have facebook and I wasn’t up for signing up – but I am planning to shop from your ‘shop’ page in support!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rebecca. There are a few people in the group who signed up to Facebook just for the Summer of Doing Stuff. They’re just using it for that and that alone. You wouldn’t believe the great things people have got done. I’ll share photos soon. July starts soon and it’s a fun backyard one. I’ll be explaining it next Monday. Give it some thought. 😉 ~ karen!

  5. Kristina says:

    It’s like magic! (Seriously, I’m a little thick here, but what exactly sharpens the blades? Friction against something, surely?)

    • Karen says:

      The compound is gritty Kristina and that’s all it takes to sharpen the blades. 🙂 ~ karen!

    • Dan says:

      The sharpening compound is abrasive, kind of like toothpaste. The reel blades spin and the tiny tiny bits of grit in it abrade the blades as they pass by the fixed part of the mower.

  6. Jody says:

    Now I understand the sounds that come from the basement when my handy husband sharpens the blades. It’s the whirling sound of the hand cranking. Re-reading this comment it sounds weird and rude and wrong…but it’s not. Really!

  7. Dan says:

    I’ve got the Lee Valley reel mower which I love. The sharpening kit which I’ve used before is a sandpaper strip which goes on the fixed part of the mower, then you do laps up and down the driveway spinning the reel against that. By then, it’s hot out, you’re hot, and it’s beer-thirty. You’ve got a nice sharp mower and a lawn up to your knees.

    I’m going to have to give this method a go.

  8. Ev Wilcox says:

    When I was a kid, eons ago, the only chore my brother had to do (winter-shovel snow) was push one of those mowers around. Three girls, 1 boy-guess who had to do everything else?! I wonder if that mower ever got sharpened. My dad was a do-it-yourselfer, but not in the extreme. But then, years later, same brother was a long distance truck driver. While driving through an old timey small town he pulled the rig over and made an old man let him mow his lawn for him. It was hot, and the man was pushing one of those mowers. So I guess it all works out in the end, right? Karen, you are a true inspiration, and the jiggy/jaggy thing needs no other name!

    • whitequeen96 says:

      Awww, what a nice man your brother grew up to be! When I come across someone like that, I always tell them, “Please tell your mother that she did a good job of raising you.” But I guess I should mention their fathers as well.

  9. Garth Wunsch says:

    I had a gizmo made by a friendly machinist that fits into my battery powered drill (or a variable speed plug-in type) chuck and replaces the hand crank. No hand cranking involved. Just don’t run it too fast or you’ll throw the compound off and heat up the blades.

  10. Mary W says:

    I love the sound of your mower LOVE it and it is immediately followed by the most amazing smell on this planet – next to bacon or coffee. Wish they made a room deodorizer like it or maybe I could just crush up some tomato leaves, except I know they are poisonous. I was told I couldn’t use a push mower in FL since the grass grew sooooo tall in just a day or two and it just wasn’t able to cut foot tall seed heads as it just bend them over. So, I live through my memories of the smells and sounds of Wisconsin summers with it’s short fat blades of grass. Thanks for a great memory.

  11. Nancy says:

    You’re da bomb!

  12. Where’s the picture of you with Jerry Springer?!

    • Karen says:

      I’d have to search a little more for it Christie. 🙂 I have video. A lot of it, lol. I was the host at a TV station once that aired The Jerry Springer show and we did a few cross promotions together so we did some segments together, went out for dinner, etc. Very smart man actually. ~ karen!

  13. Teri Shaw says:

    Just bought a push mower because I’m old and weak and can’t pull the string thingy anymore. And while I, technically, understand the internal combustion and/or two stroke engine I choose to think of it as something with which I no longer wish to be involved.
    My new push mower is very spiffy: light weight with very sharp blades which the manufacturer (someone in Germany who probably thinks I’m mowing really nice manicured city grass instead of rural ‘ground cover’ made up of weeds, moss and assorted things that fall off trees) says won’t need sharpening for years. I’m keeping your instructions in several places (iBooks, Evernote etc) so I can pull them out again in a few months and study them when I’m sure the blades will need sharpening.
    Thanks Karen. You are a fountain of useful and practical information.

  14. Kelly Reeser says:

    I’m so happy that you posted this! I’ve had a push mower for a long time and your quote, “And without sharp blades on your lawnmower, you might as well try cutting it with a sock puppet.” couldn’t be more true! Thanks again for the sharpening tips.

  15. Stephbo says:

    You forgot Step 8: Reward yourself with an adult beverage.

    • Karen says:

      Well for me it would be a Diet Coke and entire bag of chips and dip but yes … most would go for the adult beverage, lol. ~ karen!

  16. Matt says:

    Great tips on sharpening reel type mowers. Those are my favorite, they cut the grass much nicer and leave better stripes. Sure is more work thoug. Thanks for the post!

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