So You Bought A Seymour No.1 Snath Off The Shelf…

You’ve discovered that it has a few significant problems with it, right? Chances are the taper is noticeably irregular, the neck is as thick as a baseball bat, and you can’t get the nibs to loosen up despite knowing that they’re a left-handed thread because they were cranked on too tight at the factory. But here’s the good news: all of those issues are fixable.

The irregular taper and thick neck of the snath can be fixed with a little time with a spoke shave and rasp, and the nibs can be loosened by using some rubber vise jaw pads to hold the grips of the nibs tightly without marring or cracking them and using the shaft of the snath for leverage to break them loose. There’s one major flaw, however, that’s not as easy to correct…the collar is installed a whopping 20° out of alignment, and when the loop bolt is perpendicular to the ground like it should be, the arch of the snath is pointing right towards you.

It’s not a perfect fix, but you can correct for this by introducing a twist to the tang of your blade much like is commonly seen on European pattern blades. Heat the shank of the tang in same manner you would if you were adjusting its pitch, but instead, lock the tang in a sturdy vise and pull on the blade while the shank is still at heat to introduce a matching 20° twist to the tang. This will correct for the crooked collar to bring the arch of the snath back to vertical. The downside of this is that when adjusting the hang of your blade you’ll now be pivoting the length of the blade along a path that resembles an inverted cone instead of in a nice flat circle like you would with a snath that had the collar correctly mounted, but it’ll at least keep the arch from striking you in the thighs and knees every time you take a stroke with the scythe!

A Seymour No.1 snath as currently assembled from the factory. The blade was bent to correct for the collar misalignment prior to the photo being taken.
A Seymour No.1 snath as currently assembled from the factory. The blade was bent to correct for the collar misalignment prior to the photo being taken.

 

End view showing the misalignment of the snath's arch when the collar runs parallel to the ground as intended.
End view showing the misalignment of the snath’s arch when the collar runs parallel to the ground as intended.
View showing how the corrective bend of the blade's tang brings the arch of the snath back into correct alignment despite the crooked collar.
View showing how the corrective bend of the blade’s tang brings the arch of the snath back into correct alignment despite the crooked collar.

5 thoughts on “So You Bought A Seymour No.1 Snath Off The Shelf…”

  1. Since I am a woodworker, and love the feel of wooden handled tools..
    Why not correct the collar so off the shelf blades will fit..
    Some will say, once ya take off too much, ya can’t put it back…
    Well, I would take the collar off… fills the bolt holes with tight fittin’ hardwood dowels, glued in..
    Shave finish away, glue on hardwood shim like a piece of White Ash..
    After all that glue cured.. slap the snath in a shave horse in proper orientation and break some draw knife.. start shaving things nice and easy.. paying close attention to angle so we don’t have to do any bending of tangs..
    Once it all done, holes drilled in new locations, sanded smooth.. sock the end in Pine Tar and Linseed solution fer 24 hours till the wood cannot soak anymore.. wipe off excess, let ‘er hang fer few days..
    Then, put ‘er all back together..

    Thanks

    1. It would be possible to do so, but is a lot more labor than cranking the tang of the blade, and you’d still be left with a snath that had multiple holes bored and filled in it and shims added. If you want to go through the bother, that’s fine, but boy howdy is it a lot of work for a tool that could be easily made properly in the first place and not need it! There’s also the unevenness and irregular shape of the rest of the snath that needs taking care of out of the box. As a result, it works out best for everyone involved for us to buy the unfitted parts from Seymour, and either assemble them ourselves or offer the blanks and hardware in kit form for folks such as yourself to tune up as you will. A further advantage is that when working from blanks you can retrofit vintage hardware of different types than are available on the market today! 🙂

      1. Thank Ben,
        All is possible for finest fittin’ snath.. As I’ve seen, not everybody is the same.. Soon or later, ones will experiment what’s best.. just like a pair of shoes…
        I enjoy this site, and videos on youtube..

  2. are all seymour no. 1 snaths defective? I have an old one that seems ok. Not sure of the year. the logo is blue and embossed on the snath. Mostly worn off but you can see some blue and the imprint of the logo

    1. Not all are, but most produced from roughly the 80’s onward are out of alignment. Yours is most likely from the 70’s or earlier, depending on some other factors. However, every now and then they do assemble them right just by chance. As the saying goes, even a blind pig finds an acorn every now and then. The guide was written such that folks coming across such snaths can inspect them to assess if it was put together properly or not. There are often other issues, though, such as uneven taper and the shaft being oval instead of round. 🙂

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