Sharpening a scythe with a stone (honing)

Frequent sharpening (honing) of your scythe blade is really important.

It makes mowing easier and more efficient. Mowing with a sharp blade requires less energy, so it is easier on your body too.
Starting Sharpening – Recommendations

Below is how we teach people to sharpening. When you begin, it’s important to sharpen slowly and with attention. By working slowly and sharpening one side of the blade at a time (as outlined below), you will be able to ensure the angles of the stone are correct and build up a “muscle memory” of these correct angles.

Speeding it up

As your muscle memory builds you will be able to speed up your sharpening and, if you choose, begin sharpening both sides at the same time. Soon sharpening will be a quick job and you will really notice the difference to your mowing before and after.

The advantage of resting the blade tip on the ground

Note that we recommend people to kneel and rest the tip of the blade on the ground to sharpen (described below) as we find this gets the best results. Resting the blade tip on the ground holds it firm whilst you are sharpening and leaves you free to concentrate on how you are using the stone.

Alternative sharpening methods

Some people might find it hard to kneel. One alternatives include resting the blade on a raised object such as a fence post.

Sharpening standing up – pros and cons

It is possible to learn to sharpen in the standing up with the snath on end, which eliminates kneeling entirely. The downside is that you also need to learn to hold the blade steady whilst you sharpen. This adds an additional process to concentrate on whilst you are moving the stone.

If you can manage it, we generally recommend learning to sharpen resting the scythe on the ground first, then move onto standing later if you wish, when you have mastered the stone honing actions.


It’s really useful to watch someone sharpening. We are planning on making instructional videos on both methods of sharpening as soon as we can find some time! In the meantime you will find a short video of Phil sharpening kneeling down (below left) and a useful instructional video from Botan Anderson (One Scythe Revolution) on sharpening standing up (below right)

Basic Honing Instructions

Whenever you are mowing carry the stone on your belt in the stone holder, half-filled with water.

Before sharpening, use a bunch of mown grass to carefully wipe debris from the blade.

With the snath in your left hand, kneel, lowering the scythe with you. Place tip of the blade on the ground.

Using the narrow edge of the stone and short, overlapping strokes, hone one side of the blade at a time until you are confident with the angles required.

First hone the cutting edge of the top of the blade.

As a guide for the correct angle to use the stone at, place the tip on the rib and lay the stone down to meet the edge.

Hold this angle as you move the stone.

Then hone the back of the blade to remove the burr pushed over by the first pass of the stone.

Hold the stone parallel with the tang.

Look carefully to ensure it fully contacts the edge.

Phil using the kneeling technique to sharpen.
Botan Anderson of One Scythe Revolution demonstrating how to sharpen standing up. The technique of sharpening one edge at a time can be used whilst kneeling.