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Author Topic: How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?  (Read 7833 times)

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richyrich7

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How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« on: November 23, 2006, 21:38 »
Hi can anyone tell me how to use a hand sickle properly as I've got only about 1/2 a plot left to clear and the grass is to long to dig in. I dont know anyone local with a petrol strimmer. So I thought I'd just buy a small hand sickle to wack it down a bit.  90% of the grass is annual grasses not couch. Or does anybody have any other ideas how to clear it so I can finish digging out the beds etc.
Cheers
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Jake

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How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2006, 22:08 »
Ok I have a sickle and have used it only once but boy was it fun. Get a second hand / antique one if you can, should cost about 3 quid.

The trick is, as far as I can tell, make sure it is sharp, blunt is actually very dangerous. Don't try to take big hacks out of the vegetation, just a small amount each time.

And let the sickle do the work, just swing it at its own weight taking a bit at a time.

Be careful but it is fun.

Edit: I suppose I should have added, buy a sharpening stone, or even a modern implement from an army and navy store.

muntjac

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How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2006, 00:13 »
the way to use a hand sickle is to imagine throwing a pebble as in ducks and drakes fashion and take the sickle in your right hand as you would holding the handle in over hand golf club fashion , the larger scythe is harder to describe .but take the top offset handle in your left hand and the lower in your right .swing the scythe brehind you to about 45%degrees and the point of the blade should be parallel to your right leg then swing it forwards keeping the blade level to the ground about 3/4 inches above the ground .carry on the swing until the blade butt is in front of you and pull back to the first swing once again in one flowing movement ,sharpening them using a torpedo stone holding the heel ( the point where the blade joins the wooden shaft of the scythe )blade facing down  in your left hand and stroke the blade down the blade in a single motion ,the same for the hand scythe when you have done 8 strokes or so with the stone .run it once down the top side of the blade to remove any scarf. small burrs on the blade ,.now i know someones gonna say i do it this way or that way ,well i do it my way folks .i wear butchers chain gloves ,you just make sure you wear something please .

incidently naomi can arrange days for folks wanting courses in scything search her id for the lcss or something similar .( john can correct this )
bit  :wink:
 annual grasses ,dig em in trench style  8)

Eristic

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How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2006, 01:31 »
As this is a task you should only have to do once I would suggest you just use garden shears. They are safe, maybe slower but probably will take a lot less effort. Using a sickle or hook on such a dirty cut will require constant sharpening which is an art in itself, and dangerous.

If the ground is reasonably level you could also use an old lawnmower set on high cut

I'm surprised that Muntjac did'nt point out that the hook is even more dangerous when not in use than when it is being used. Too many people have had their legs cut to the bone after tripping over the hook while doing something else.

muntjac

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How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2006, 11:21 »
ooooops  :oops: .spanked again,didnt mention it mate cos i kinda rely on folks to use common sense .i did warn about losing the fingers tho :wink: am i forgiven? :cry:

richyrich7

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How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2006, 11:37 »
Thanks everybody for the advice...Eristic you've got a good point about common sense, think I might just stick to the garden shears idea. :lol:

John

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How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2006, 11:45 »
You'll know you're in trouble, Karl, when a one legged man hops up the drive waving his fingerless fist at you!
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muntjac

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How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2006, 20:48 »
aye i think your right john mate  :lol:

N.WalesIdealist

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Re: How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2010, 16:53 »
Hello, I've just found this website due to a search that I've been doing after purchasing said tool.  Although, that's not completely true as I've used the veg information and "Jobs to do in..." for some time now, but I guess I've only just discovered the forums!

Anyway, I'd just bought a sickle as I've gotten round to motivating myself to start work on converting a very overgrown half an acre of my girlfriend's parent's property into a vegetable garden and orchard.  So in my search for any tips on it's use I discovered this post, had a little read and then plowed on, achieving some very good results!

Although it's not the quickest work, it is very natural and once you get into the swing of it I found that time passed very quickly, and I made more progress than I thought.  Here's my tips on how to use a sickle, in case anyone was still wondering:

1.  First off get a good pair of boots on.  I've been using my Dunlop Wellington's bought for 7 pounds from Trago Mills in Cornwall (in case anyone is in need of a cheap pair!).  They're very strong, and withstood a couple of pretty harsh blows when I lost concentration for a second.

2.  Still on the safety theme, thick trousers or jeans are a must, not so much when you're actually using the blade, but on a number of occasions I felt the blade lightly brush against my leg when i was surveying my work and I was thankful for my jeans preventing any scratches or grazes.

3.  Gloves and long sleeves were also a godsend, although I guess these may be dependent on the type of work you're doing.

4.  Now then, onto the proper tips.  Grab a handful of the stems of whatever you're wanting to cut about 10-12 inches off the ground.  You may need to vary this, but the point is, you need to have the area of the stem that you're going to cut in sight.

5.  Loop the blade around the stems with the tip towards you and the handle pointing out to your right (if you're left handed do this the other way round).

6.  Whilst pushing onto the stems with the blade, rotate it around and repeat until they're all cut, you should end up with a nice bunch of cut stems in your other hand.

7.  Voila!  For more woody stems you may need to hack at them a little bit, but when doing this make sure you're aware of where the tip of the blade is at all times to avoid a nasty jab!

So.  That's how I used my sickle, and it was brilliant.  The action feels so natural and instinctive, and having a nice bunch of cut stems after wards is strangely rewarding.  I'm sure I must have been a farm hand in a previous life!

Bernard

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Re: How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2010, 19:16 »
First, check for supply of wooden legs...
Actually, I agree with using shears.

I had to do this when I moved in to my present house because the grass was a foot long.  (30cm if you don't speak english) As I progressed I found there wer many frogs which did not leap until the shears were closing on them. Result was a row of frogs with back legs missing.
Very traumatic.

Why does this stupid spell checker think I have spelt 'english' wrong?

John

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Re: How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2010, 19:21 »

Why does this stupid spell checker think I have spelt 'english' wrong?

Should be capitalised - English :)

madcat

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Re: How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2010, 09:07 »
Given the choice I would use the sickle for a small area like this rather than the petrol strimmer or the shears. 
The strimmer is heavy to lug to/from the allotment, fussy to set up and as noisy as hell.  It is also harder work to clear afterwards.  It really doesn't save that much time in total - if at all.
Shears are two handed so you either go blind (see the problems with frogs :() or are constantly putting down and picking up and clearing out the way.  Plus the blades still need tickling up so you aren't chewing the grass off.
With the sickle you are cutting with one hand and prep'ing/clearing with the other, so you can see what you are doing, move frogs and stones out the way, pull up the odd perennial weed etc as you go.  You will need good gloves - as well as safety, the nasty nettle has a way of hiding in the grass.  Tickling up the blade to keep it razor sharp is a good excuse to stretch the back too.    ;)
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N.WalesIdealist

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Re: How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2010, 21:31 »
I prefer the sickle because it's so much easier to use.  Keep it sharp and it's very effective, as well as being light and accurate if used properly.  The strimmer is brilliant for shorter weeds and growth, but the area I'm clearing is covered in growth taller than I am, so the strimmer is often bogged down whilst I rake back the cuttings!

rowlandwells

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Re: How do use a hand sickle / scythe ?
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2010, 19:27 »
many good replies to this subject i have to say that if you have never used either a scythe or sickle before i would get professional advise or at least someone who has been using both sickle /scythe to show you how to use them and sharpen both properly personally i think the shears or a strimmer are your best option  :unsure:

i have used both a sickle and scythe many times and sharpened both without any problem but the first time i sharpened a scythe i cut my hand pretty deep that was about 40 yrs ago i never cut my hand again although i have sharpened a scythe many times after. sharpening these tools is essential for a good cut and there is probably an art to sharpening scythes and sickles :)

and of cause you must keep the blades under wraps for away from children when not in use and hang them up in the shed so you don't fall over them or accidently touch them safety for these tools is paramount  i am the proud owner of 2 scythes and a sickle left to me by those who are no longer here i always treat the wooden handles with linseed oil and oil the blades to overwinter i have known woodworm to get in handles if there not treated   think very carefully Richyrich7 before you you use these tools :mad:

EddieJ

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Re: How do use a hand sickle / sythe ?
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2010, 21:59 »
I spent my first two years from leaving school clearing forestry plantations with a swap and slasher.
I also remember when we also got the first brushcutters to use. :(

Our work changed forever, and not for the best. :( Suddenly we were on peace work, and to earn money we would have to fit either push bike inner brake cables or flymo blades to the machines. The vibration was evil, but it was the only way to make it worth while.
Gone were the days of gently strolling through the woods, having a chat as we would work up through the rows, the frequent stops to sharpen our blades were replaced by petrol stops, and any chance of hearing and seeing wildlife was long gone.

I feel old!!!



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