Yesterday was International Peening Day. For our part, we held a Peening and Sharpening Workshop. The rain came in steady waves all day, so I was very glad that the day was mainly spent in the comfort of the Red Barn, where Phil described and demonstrated the process of [popup url=https://www.scythecymru.co.uk/scythes-for-sale/peening/ height=”800″ width=”800″]peening[/popup] in detail.
Participants had plenty of time to practice with both the peening jig and freehand peening with an anvil. Some choose to gain confidence on some reject blades we have from the Fux factory before moving onto working on their own blades.
The aim of the day is to send participants home with one of their blades that they have peened themselves and a renewed confidence in their ability to peen. As well as people picking up the hammer for the first time, the workshop is very useful for people who have been peening already but would like to increase their skill level, perhaps moving on from the jig to freehand peening or learning how to use peening to mend damage to the blade edge.
Our experience shows that getting to grips with peening and sharpening can make a big difference in your mowing ease and quality. It took Phil several years of practice to raise his peening skills. The biggest improvement was marked by a big jump in the speed and quality of his mowing, leading to the first occasion on which he won the Quality Cup at the West Country Scythe Festival in 2008. Since that time, the peening and sharpening ability of the UK scythe community as a whole has risen, indicated by an increasing number of people mowing fast and well in the various UK mowing competitions.
The competitions are of course just the visible part of UK mowing. Across the country there are people like us, using the Austrian scythe as a working, living tool on their farm, small holding, garden or allotment and finding that the ability to get a blade sharp and keep it that way makes a great difference to the effectiveness of the tool.
It is extremely pleasing to see this general increase in skill level in the UK. After all, we started from a very low base. Peening is not a traditional skill in th UK, as it is not the way the English scythe is maintained (more discussion of the different ways of maintenance to follow perhaps!). When we first started using the Austrian scythe in 2005, it was an uncommon tool. Now, there is a vibrant and growing community of mowers showing increasing skill level. The Scythe Association of Britain and Ireland Website(SABI) will give you an idea of the varied activities that are happening on the UK scythe scene.
Phil would say that while his skill level is high and improving, he has still not mastered the art of peening. It is a subtle art and can be used with great effect to alter the mowing quality of your blade to suit the conditions that you are mowing in, be it clearing nettles or mowing hay. Any attempt at peening is likely to improve your mowing and, as with any skill, your ability will increase with practice. The important thing of course is to begin!
If you missed this workshop, there will be another opportunity to hone your peening skills with Phil during a Peening and Sharpening Workshopon Wednesday 23rd July.