Sharpening a Push Mower

Those of you that own a hand powered push lawn mower or a manual lawn mower may be aware that when they have been used for a while, they do not cut as easily. Some signs to look out for that your manual mower may need sharpened are: if it seems to pull at the grass without cutting it or if it is damaging the grass blades and not cutting them uniformly. That and if it is taking extra effort than usual to cut the grass, you probably just need to sharpen your mower’s blades. Sharpening push mowers is not that difficult if you do not let it go entirely too long. Next, we will include normal instructions for sharpening most types of manual push mowers.

Please use common sense and observe due safety precautions- wear safety goggles and be careful around sharp blades. Even though it's not a powered mower, the blades can still hurt you.

Tools Needed

    1. Large flat head screwdriver
    2. Sharpening compound
    3. Crank handle
    4. Application brush
    5. Pry bar
    6. Flat metal file
    7. Socket set

Steps to Sharpening your Push Mower

    1. The first thing you do normally is take off the wheel at one end of the reel. This can be done by popping off the wheel’s center cap with a large flat head screwdriver. Next you want to pry off the C-ring in the center of the axle and remove the wheel.

    2. Now you remove the gear that you will see behind the wheel. Be careful, there is usually a small part that makes the gear turn the crank, so take it out too, noting how it was assembled for easy replacement.

    3. Repeat steps one and two to remove the wheel on the other side.

    4. Take your crank that came with the mower’s sharpening kit and put it over the axle where you took the gear off.

    5. Next, get your sharpening compound and the applicator brush and spread the sharpening compound over each blade on the reel.

    6. Now you are going to crank the crank so that the reel turns backwards. This is the key to sharpening the blades. Be certain that you are turning the reel in the opposite direction that it normally goes. You are going to have to crank it for some time, so do it until you are tired and take a break.

    Then, do it again until you can see that all the blades have a nice edge on them. You should be able to see one side of the blade ground down to a 45 degree angle and the other edge should be flat. You can also use a power drill to crank the reel backwards instead of the crank. You can attach a 16mm, 17mm or 9/16 (depending on the mower type) deep well socket to your drill and use it in place of the crank. That should keep you from tiring out during the sharpening process.

    7. Okay, that is it! Put it back together the same way you took it apart and go mow your lawn.

Above, are the basic instructions for sharpening most push mowers. Your push mower should be very similar if not exactly the same. If you do not have a sharpening kit for your mower, check you local stores. They usually sell for about $25 to $30. The sharpening kit should come with the crank, sharpening compound, applicator brush and instructions.

Sharpening Extremely Dull or Damaged Blades

If your push mower has been severely neglected, you may need to do some extra steps to get a sharp edge on the blades. There are machines that were made especially for sharpening reel type lawn mowers. You could take it in to your local lawn and garden shop and see if they can do it.

You could also do it yourself. If you know a little about sharpening garden tools, go ahead and use a flat file and sharpen the edge on each blade at a forty five degree angle. You should be able to tell which edge to sharpen by looking at the blade. One edge will have a bevel and one will not. If you are unable to tell, then take it to a professional. You should never sharpen both sides of the blades.