Once in a great while we have a knife or tool come in that’s especially stunning, and this knife is one of them! Gorgeous figuring in those walnut scales. This is one Bushlore that’s dressed to impress!
American pattern scythe blades traditionally come from the factory with the tang flat, and they are adjusted to the proper angle for the user and their snath by heating and bending for optimal mowing performance. This image series shows our method of going about it, using a Seymour Midwest Tools 30″ grass blade. If you do not have the tools necessary to perform the bending yourself, a local blacksmith, machine shop, or auto mechanic will likely be able and willing to perform the job.
The angle you will need will depend on your height, stance when mowing, the tuning of your snath, how much bend or “lift” there is in the neck of your snath (typically about 25° in most American snaths) and your intended mowing environment. In general a good rule of thumb is that the edge should ride about the thickness of your fingertip above the ground when in mowing stance. A lawn blade may need a slightly lower lay, and if mowing in very heavy or thick vegetation or on bumpy terrain a slightly higher lay may be preferred. See where your blade rides with the tang unbent and determine how much you want to lower it. This will be the amount of bend you’ll be introducing to the tang.
Clamp the blade securely in a sturdy vise. Care should be taken so that when the tang is torqued the strain is carried by the rib rather than the thin web of the blade (the span between the rib and the edge.) Here aluminum vise pads are being used both to appropriately manage the sites of pressure, but also to avoid marring the blade.
Heating the shank of the tang to prepare it for bending requires caution to avoid also heating the edge at the heel of the blade. We use an induction heater, which rapidly heats a narrow band of steel within the confines of its electromagnetic coil, but this is an option few will have. A torch (either MAP gas or oxy acetylene) is much more common, but greater care must be taken with them to mitigate heat migration away from the site of application. A raw potato can be stuck on the edge as a heat sink, or the base of the blade wrapped with a soaking wet rag. Try to keep the heat as confined to to the shank as possible, as this is where you want the bending to occur. Bring the metal to at least moderate red heat before attempting to bend.
Now that the tang has been brought to sufficient heat, twisting force needs to be applied to the tang to impart the desired angle of lift–what is known as the “cray” or the “tack” of the tang. A bending fork is the ideal way to do this (it makes it much easier to control the bend) but you can slip a pipe of appropriate dimensions over the tang to do the job as well.
The bending fork or pipe should be close at hand during the heating process so you can get it in position without losing too much of your heat. Apply your pressure in a smooth and controlled manner so you can gauge if excessive stress is being placed on the blade itself. If resistance becomes too great, reapply heat as necessary. It is ideal, however, to get the tang angle set in a single heat.
After bending, allow the tang to air cool–DO NOT QUENCH. Cooling the blade with water or by other rapid means would harden the steel, rendering it brittle. You want the metal to cool slowly so that it will be soft and tough to better resist strain during mowing, and prone to bend rather than snap if abused.
We’re moving to a new location on 10 acres and I was out at the property today fixing some of the leaning electric fence posts to get them ready for wiring. The Falci Carpenter’s Axe proved invaluable, and I took photos of the process for your enjoyment.
The weapons–the Falci, a Predator Tools “Big Red” diamond point all-steel spade, and a second-hand Seymour post hole digger of indeterminate age.
Chopping a bevel onto the wedging material.
The wedge complete.
Here’s one of the offending posts:
Lifting the post back up straight, this is the void of the egged-out hole that was left.
Placing the wedge. Note that the beveled side is to the outside. This will cause resistance from the soil during driving to push the wedge tight against the base of the pole.
Partly driven in:
Time to dig some backfill.
Sinks in easy!
Cuts a nice big plug.
Squashing the plug down into the remaining void.
Well…not quite. There’s still this hole to take care of.
Stuffing it with some old mowed grass from when I cleared around the base of the posts.
It’ll break down eventually and still leave a pit, but it won’t be as deep, and it’ll keep me from busting my ankle in a careless moment!
Another shot of the plug on another post:
A photo of me at work that my other half was kind enough to take.