How to sharpen an axe (so sharp Gimli would use it!)

Sunday, July 24, 2022
gimli swining battle axe

How to properly sharpen an axe 

Think back to The Fellowship of the Ring when Boromir is checking out the broken Sword of Elendil and he says of it: "still sharp".

This is an in-joke to Sean Bean's character Richard Sharpe from his show Sharpe who was a soldier during the Napoleonic Wars.

And if Sean Bean knows the importance of a good sharp joke, he'll understand how important it is to swing a sharp axe when chopping wood or bringing down a horde of Orcs!

After all, one does not simply walk into Mordor without a sharp axe!

You also need to take Gimli!

It's obvious that one sharpens an axe so that it cuts wood better but a sharp edge means you can apply less force which means you can cut more accurately and for longer. 

A sharper blade also reduces the risk of an accident occurring because the edge is less likely to slip from where it lands.

A guide on how to sharpen your axe

As always, use the right tools, secure working space and play it safe with gloves as apt. Or use your bare hands, you know what to do right?

And you know that preparation is key.

There's a saying I came across a while back that goes something like this: if you have six hours to chop down a tree, then you should spend the first four of them sharpening...


To begin.

If there is any rust on your axe you should clean it off with a rust eraser or steel wool. You can use sand paper at a pinch.

You don't need to polish the axe head so you can see yourself in it but why have a rusty axe? 

How to sharpen an axe with a stone or file tool

If you have a sharpening stone, then you're on a path to sharpening glory.

Ideally, your stone will be coarse, maybe even a diamond-coated sharpening stone. 

Or you have a file. 

When you sharpen a knife, you move the blade against the stone which is stationary. 

The reverse applies when sharpening an axe or hatchet. Your file or stone will be what moves so you axe should be stationary. 

Ideally, you can clamp it in a vice so it doesn't move but a great trick I learned as a lad in Scouts is if you place a plank of wood under the axe head, you'll be able to raise the edge of the axe enough so you can sharpen at a good angle.

You can hold the axe handle down by standing on it and then use firm strokes over the edge.

Just like this:

sharpen a hatchet with a file

When you have made good progress on one side, flip the axe over and repeat. 

You'll know your axe is sharpened well enough when having swapped sides, a nice shiny 'raw' edge appears that looks ready to split wood. 

Using a grinder to sharpen an axe

Electric grinding tools are a legitimate tool to sharpen an axe with but there are some real risks when using these tools - for goodness sake, only use a grinder that the safety guard still attached and wear protective eyewear and gloves to keep those hands and eyes safe.

When using a grinder, the key thing is to ensure you you maintain the correct cutting angle of the axe itself. If you are not careful, the grinder could level out the whole blade - which would be detrimental to the 'splitting power' caused by the different thicknesses at the edge of the blade. 

Here's a handy video which shows how to cut - doesn't necessarily follow our suggested safety guidelines...

This is basically the same method you can use to sharpen a lawn mower blade!

If you are in the market for an axe, consider one of the sharpest on the shelf there is, the Gransfor Bruk Small Forest Axe may be worth your consideration.

What is the best oil for a chainsaw engine fuel mix?

Friday, June 24, 2022

Choosing the best chainsaw engine oil for fuel mixtures 

Just like a car engine needs the right engine oil, and your lawnmower too, your chainsaw will benefit from using the correct engine oil too.

In case it's not clear, we are talking about the kind of oil you mix with petrol before you add it to your two-stroke engine not oil for the chain bar!

Chainsaw engines are smaller than lawnmowers and of course cars, so run differently - at different speeds, different accelerations and at different temperatures.

If you want to ensure your chainsaw engine is properly maintained, then you need to use oil designed for use in a chainsaw.

best chainsaw engine oil

When filling a small engine such as a chainsaw with fuel, it's quite likely to be a 'two cycle' or two-stroke engine. This means the fuel added will be a mixture of gas petrol and oil, usually in a 50 to 1 ratio of gas to oil.

Do not add car engine or lawn mower oil to your chainsaw fuel! 

The quality of petrol and oil used is quite important to the proper running and life of the engine.

Unsuitable fuels or mix ratios that do not suit the manufacturer's design and intended use of the machine can cause damage to the engine which can include piston seizing and excessive wear. Gaskets, fuel lines and the fuel tank itself could be damaged if the incorrect oil is used.

It should now be clear that you should only ever use 2-cycle engine oil with your chainsaw*. Anything else will probably wreck it so, no you cannot put ordinary car oil in it!

What kind of oil to use? You'd be pretty safe with any of the major brands such as Husqvarna or Stihl.

*Can I use synthetic oil in my chainsaw fuel?

Just like their use in lawnmowers, synthetic oils have been demonstrated to have superior combustion characteristics over mineral oils on top of delivering great lubrication on chainsaw engines.

Synthetic oils will leave you with a much cleaner engine. They usually also have additives like octane enhancers, detergents and stabilizers to help burn cleaner than other engine oils. This means they will cause much less smoke as well.

You can also use semi-synthetics which cost less than fully synthetic oils. They still have fine combustion properties and give you better lubrication than you’d get from standard mineral oil.

Pros of using synthetic chainsaw oil

  • Will lubricate better than standard oil
  • Less coating on the piston and in the crankcase
  • Leaves your engine cleaner, produces less smoke exhaust

Cons of using synthetic oil

  • Price is the only real issue!

Here are some popular brand option for which it is hard to go wrong on choice!

How to mix gas and oil for a chainsaw

Before fueling the chainsaw, clean the fuel cap and the area around it to ensure that no dirt or wood chips fall into the fuel tank.

Have your oil and gas ready. You may wish to have a high octane gas.

Have your chopper positioned so that the cap points upwards.  

In order to reduce the risk of fuel coming in direct contact with skin and inhaling fuel vapour, remove the fuel cap carefully so as to allow any pressure build-up in the tank to release slowly. 

Your container for mixing should be clean, free of dirt and debris and one that is actually designed for holding fuel.

Pour the oil into the canister first and then add the gasoline or petrol. Make sure you get the ratios right by using the measured marks on your container.  

Close the canister and shake it vigorously to ensure proper mixing of the oil with the fuel.

Then pour the mix into your chainsaw. 

Close the caps firmly and place your saw upright. You are ready to rock and roll.

Time to think about chainsaw safety eh?

How long can I store mixed gas and oil fuel for?

It's recommended that you only mix enough fuel for the activity for which you are about to undertake. 

The mixture will deteriorate over time which makes engine performance suffer and even make it hard to start chainsaws (so you can remove fuel from your machine when storing if you wish to avoid that). 

Many brand manufacturers suggest one month but in our personal experience, you can go a fair bit longer. Any fuel stored longer than three months in the engine itself is likely to not be worth your time. 

Once, as a cheeky fix to spark some new life into the fuel that would not start, I added a dash of gas and it helped the chainsaw start, though begrudgingly! Check out this way to start a stalled chainsaw or replace a spark plug.

Best safety glasses for working around the home

Monday, June 20, 2022

How the best safety glasses will save your eyes

I saw this picture of these safety glasses on Reddit and I was like, YES, this is why one should wear a good pair of eyewear when doing home repairs and maintenance.

When using electric tools, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and hot metal parts spinning around at 1000s of RPM can fly directly into your face.

Much like a chainsaw that kicks back, these projectiles can rip apart your face in seconds.

Have you ever had a drill bit snap off a tool and fly off? I have but thankfully not at my head.

So we can imagine that dude that had his eyesight saved by wearing his protective eyewear, there's many a happy craftsman who still has his eyes because he was smart and put on his safety goggles.

eye safety glasses reviewas 

If you want to keep your eyes safe in your head, then we suggest you think about buying some protective eyeglasses.

These are actually some of the cheapest safety equipment you can buy, so why take a risk and not use them?

Early bird recommendation: the NoCry glasses with Clear Anti Fog Scratch Resistant Wrap-Around Lenses

What to look for in a pair of safety glasses?

There are several things to think about when buying safety glasses in terms of how you will use them:

  • Only ever wear 'personal protective equipment' glasses that have been manufactured to a recognized safety standard. If you buy cheap and nasty, you run the risk that they will not reduce the chance of harm occurring. 
  • This means you want to look out for glasses that are advertised as having "impact-resistant lenses" as they may not be suitable for your DIY purposes. 
  • Filter out UV light radiation - really handy attribute if you are working outside. 
  • Are easily washed in warm water and can be dried with a soft cloth
  • Polycarbonate construction suggests the unit will be sturdy
  • Fog resistant by way of a double coated lens
  • non slip nose pads are useful

NoCry Safety Glasses 

These babies are some of Amazon's most popular sellers - likely because they are cheap, are made to safety standards and they look pretty good when worn.

The NoCry Safety Glasses are manufactured with strong and durable polycarbonate wraparound construction. designed with one thing in mind, to keep your eyeballs safe from direct and peripheral threat so serve as a great example of personal protective equipment in action.

The lenses are double-coated and untinted which hopefully means little to no fogging up or optical distortion which is great for when doing hard physical labor.

These glasses protect your eyes from 90-100% of harmful UV radiation due to the 380nm UV protection lens coating - which is the highest industry standard for all UV protection in clear PPE eyewear lenses.

The side and nose pieces may be adjusted to give you a perfect fit without the slipping - no matter the face type or head size. You'll be able to wear them all day as their contoured design shape will hug your cheekbone area, reducing pressure on your face. they are also very light and the soft rubber nose piece will let them sit lightly on your face.

They won't feel bulky or awkward even after hours and hours at the workshop turning a nice piece of wood.

Check out the price on Amazon.

If there is one slight drawback it's that this unit will not fit over your spectacles/glasses - not to worry though as NoCry have developed a pair that just that:

best protective eyewear for glasses

Many big name brands have got into the PPE safety glasses gig because why not, there's money to be made in having your customers be safe - after all customers who use tools need to buy new tools and replacement parts and they won't be doing that if they find themselves with a drill bit in their eye.

And it turns out, Dewalt make a pretty handy pair of personal protective eyewear:
Dewalt's glasses feature :
  • Rubber tipped temples to deliver a secure and comfortable fit
  • Tough, polycarbonate lenses which provide impact resistance
  • Telescoping temples can adjust for a comfortable fit
  • Cushioned brow protection for extra coverage protection
  • Ratcheting temples that adjust for a proper fit

Here is a glowing review from a user of these glasses who bought them on Amazon:

"Awesome pair of protective goggles. I fog up glasses all the time and never believed in "anti" fog lenses. I have yet to experience normal, every day "excessive" workday fogging. 

Unless I'm sweating and not cleaning my lenses or I work in a cold place and move to a warm place, these glasses don't fog up. I worked in the coal industry operating a roof bolter which is a very hot job that requires safety glasses all day and these are THE BEST I've ever had. "

With a review like that, how can you go wrong? Check out the nice price on Amazon.

Can I get prescription safety glasses?

For those that need to wear ordinary glasses when working with tools and machinery, then prescription safety glasses can be a solution.

Many glasses are easily covered by eyewear, however, if you need to wear protective gear for a long time, the two units on the head can become bothersome so prescriptive safety glasses come into play.

Can I use safety glasses for sport?

While these kinds of glasses are generally designed to prevent injury from flying debris, you can use them for sporting pursuits to protect against flying balls - many racketball and squash players will use them just fine. 

However, if playing more of a contact sport, you'll need specs that won't come off. 

How to reduce the chance of chainsaw kickback

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The occurrence of a kickback on a chainsaw can be bloody injurious or even deadly

At the least, you'll get a good scare, at worst you could end up with a chainsaw through your face. 

Do you think we jest?

Google 'kickback injuries to the face' and you'll see what we're talking about.

A kickback injury is something you want to wear and is clearly why any person with an iota of sense about personal safety will use some form of safety gear such as gloves or safety chaps when using a chainsaw.

Even if at a minimum, it's a pair of safety classes. 

And personally, we would never use a chainsaw that didn't have a working chain brake which stops the chain from operating in a kickback moment. Those things save lives and limbs!

In New Zealand, it's actually against the law to sell any chainsaw that does not feature a chain brake

There might be a few cheeky hobbits in New Zealand but they sure know a thing or two about product safety.

Causes of kickback

The first is if the chain gets pinched between the material it’s cutting and causes the saw to drive back into the operator.

The second way is if the tip of the bar comes into contact with something solid (the ground, a log, a branch).

This is the more dangerous form of kickback.

When the nose of the bar hits that solid something at high speed, all the torque from the chain suddenly stopping gets transferred to the body of the chainsaw and the chainsaw wants to flip back at the saw handler, presumably with the throttle still held down.

You begin to see where this is going, literally.

Though putting a chainsaw in the wrong place can cause kickback, the experts at Oregon have put together this list of reasons why kickback can occur either alone or in combination:
  • Improper saw maintenance
  • Dull chain (a chain should always be optimally sharpened. Read our guide on how to sharpen a chainsaw properly)
  • Loose saw chain tension
  • Loose rivets
  • Incorrectly installed chain parts
  • Bent, cracked, or broken saw chain components
  • Incorrectly sharpened chain angles 
  • Excessive chain depth gauge settings
  • Incorrect chain depth gauge shapes
Additionally, as the size of the guide bar’s nose increases, so does the potential risk for a kickback.

So what is the science of a kickback?

When you use a chainsaw it creates a 'reaction force'. If you are cutting on the lower half of the saw (closet to the base of the saw), the reaction force is pulled into the body of the saw, or the bumper spikes - this is what you want. When you are cutting with the upper half of the bar, the reaction force tends to act upwards toward the user.

This is a transfer of momentum force.

Hence, if something kicks, the saw is driven back towards the user because the force generated by the engine has to go somewhere.

So how do you avoid a kickback from occurring?

By staying focused on the job at hand. Using a chainsaw can be tiring work and after a hard session, you can find yourself with back muscles you never knew you had.

So concentration is key.

Concentrate on where and how you are placing the top of the saw.

If your arms are getting tired, your back is aching, perhaps it's time to take a break.

Here's some guidance from Work Safe:

Using proper operating techniques will reduce the likelihood of kickback.

  1. Hold the chainsaw firmly with both hands.
  2. Make sure your left thumb is wrapped firmly under the front handle and in the mitt if fitted.
  3. Be aware of the location of the guide bar nose at all times.
  4. Do not let the guide bar nose come in contact with any object. 

Other points to watch are:

  1. Be especially careful when cutting small limbs or light material that may catch in the chain.
  2. Do not over-reach or cut above shoulder height. 
  3. Use extreme caution when re-entering a cut.
  4. Cut only one log at a time.
  5. Correctly maintain your chainsaw. 
  6. Make sure there are no loose-fitting nuts, bolts or screws.
  7. Ensure that safety devices are working.
  8. Make sure the chain is tensioned, sharpened and depth gauges set to the manufacturer's specification.
  9. Use a safety chain (anti-kickback chain) and the correct bar and chain combination.

Here's a really great video tutorial which gives some great times on avoiding kick back. It starts with a hokey demonstration of an accident but the advice given by the presenter is quality stuff:

If you follow good chainsawing practices, in particular being very careful where you place the tip of the chainsaw, you will greatly reduce the chance of a kickback occurring.

The other half of the equation is to ensure that you wear adequate safety gear to protect from serious injury. Or maybe invest in the best crypto currency wallet and make a fortune. Who knows?

Best chainsaw for cutting firewood

While chainsaws used to be the sole domain of hardened lumberjacks, farmers and very keen woodsmen, chainsaws are now almost ubiquitous in the family home.

This is often due to the need to feel trees but the main reason why is to cut wood for firewood.

Given the varieties of machinery available, it's important that the user has the right chainsaw to do the job. There's no point in having a power saw that's designed to cut down California Pine all day when you simply need a reasonably powered saw to cut some limbs of a tree.

Here then is our guide to identifying the best chainsaws to use for cutting firewood. 

There are two factors to first consider. 

How proficient and experienced are you at using a chainsaw?

If you are a bit green (nothing wrong with that, we all started at the same place) then you will want a chainsaw that is not too heavy as holding and working with these units can quickly tire your arms - which reduces productivity and increases the risk chance of an accident occurring

If you are well practiced and in a fit state, then you can consider using a chainsaw with more power. 

One of the pros of using a small chainsaw is that you can be a bit more nimble and maneuver them more easily. 

What kind of tree and wood will you be cutting? 

If you are felling large trees, then you may want to consider a chainsaw which has a lot of engine strength. If the tree is hardwood, then you will want the power. 

A chainsaw that is not designed to cut large hardwood trees will find its engine is placed under a fair bit of strain - this will lead to unnecessary wear and inefficient cutting time. 

So what am I really looking for?

The way we see it, if you are cutting firewood, you can go two ways.

Buy an all-around saw

They are usually designed and built in the same way as professional saws, but have a lesser performance rating. They are not intended for use as an 'all day tool' but for part-time use, such as cutting firewood!

To that end, the Husqvarna 460 Rancher might be the chainsaw for you:

Purchase a general consumer saw 

Smaller and easy-to-use saws designed for home use by people who will use the saw every so often. If this sounds like you, we suggest an electric chainsaw like the Dewalt DCCS620B:

The real benefit other than it being lightweight is that the electric saw requires less maintenance. It's also less than half the price of your standard gas-powered equivalent. 

best chainsaw cutting firewood

The Husqvarna 460 Rancher is a robust all round saw, ideal for demanding cutting jobs where more power is required for a longer guide bar.

Equipped with a X-Torq engine with high torque over a wide RPM range. The saw's body is ergonomically designed allowing for easy handling of the saw's power.

Further features include Smart Start, Air Injection, LowVib and combined choke/stop control.

The real value though is checking in what real users of the Rancher have to say about its performance. Here's what buyers from Amazon have said in their reviews after putting cutting bar to wood:

"I'm not a professional arborist or somebody who cuts wood all the time. But I do cut down trees from family and friends and cut some for a wood burner I have in my woodshop. Ultimately as I said I would love to be able to mail my own lumber. So for a normal everyday person I just wanted a good strong chainsaw that will hopefully be one of the last ones I buy for a very long time this chainsaws absolutely excellent !! I would even recommend this to experts as well because I believe they would love it too."

"The build quality is outstanding... contrasting it with my cheaper Ryobi chain saw, EVERYTHING (from the housing, to the bar chain oil and gas tank lids, to the chain tensioner, the bar itself, etc.) is made and assembled with much higher quality materials and attention. After all the trees I've already dropped and broken down with this Husqvarna saw, I see myself using this saw for years (probably decades) to come"

If that sells you, check out this pricing:

We would be remiss if we didn't remind you that if you are new to using a chainsaw, you may wish to take lessons on how to correctly use a chainsaw (at the least, learn what a kick back is). You'll also do well to have safety equipment such as gloves, chaps, and eyewear. And you probably will need to learn how to start a flooded chainsaw engine.

Hands on review: Gerber MP400 Compact Sport Multi-Plier

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Gerber MP400 Compact Sport Multi-Plier: Review

When I graduated with a degree many years ago, my parents got me a Gerber multi-plier tool. It was awesome, I used it all over the show. 

It had a seriously sharp knife, a saw, and a pretty handy pair of scissors. It was great for fishing/sorting tackle, opening beers, doing Macgyver stuff.

I once used it to remove a fishhook from a dog's throat which while an interesting moment for me, it was a painful ordeal for the dog.

I used it for about years until some asshole robbed my house and they nicked it and a whole lot of other gear.

At the time, we had a little baby so we spent the insurance on the kid.

No regrets.

review: Gerber MP400 Compact Sport Multi-Plier

Though I wistfully thought about that Gerber knife a lot for several years. So, when I had a lil spare cash, I got myself a replacement Gerber - the Gerber MP400 Compact Sport Multi-Plier in fact.

It was slightly different from the original one I was gifted in that it did not have a saw but the knife and scissors were sharp as I remembered.

gerber compact mp400 review

So how has it faired?

Let's start with the 'flick of the wrist' opening trick this tool is known for. 

My original (which I suspect was an earlier version of the MP600) would open up and the needle slide out with a said flick of the wrist. This version did not, it was a bit stiff and has taken a fair bit of use to 'sort it out' so the flick trick works every time. 

A small application of CRC early on helped too.

This is the only complaint I have about this knife.

It's super handy and I rate it so much, I brought my brother one for Christmas last year.

By why is it handy? All Gerber knife blades are super sharp, surgical sharp. And that sharpness seems to last for a long time. Indeed, I have not sharpened it yet, despite lots of use cutting string, garden plants and whatnot.

I even used it to cut the skin in my hand to get a wood splinter out.

I would however not perform an appendectomy on myself with it...

Last month I made a coat rack out of some nice Rimu wood - my trusty Makita electric drill couldn't get the last screw into the framing for some reason - enter the Gerber to finish the job.

Gerber has some marketing guff which may be of interest to you:

  • Solid stainless steel construction offers durable use over time.
  • Included ballistic nylon sheath keeps the tool ready at a moment's notice.
  • Proudly made in the USA at Gerber's Portland, Oregon factory
  • Fully functional toolbox that fits in the palm of your hand
  • Stainless steel hardware for durability

I'd most certainly agree the Gerber MP400 is durable. If you drop it it will not break and will likely leave a dent in a wooden floor for example. It is heavy and feels properly weighted when in the hand. You know how a knife feels just right? It's the same for this tool.

The unit boasts these following component parts:
  • needle nose pliers
  • wire cutter, wire crimper
  • serrated knife blade
  • Fiskars scissors
  • cross point screwdriver
  • small, medium and large flat blade screwdrivers
  • can opener
  • bottle opener

You may be wondering what Fiskars Scissors are - Fiskars is a well-known brand of scissors, famous for originally being for cutting material with. And you could sure cut up and Oscar gown with the scissors on the Gerber MP400 - they are so sharp!

A little bit of research tells me, this unit has been Gerber's most popular selling multi-tool for over a decade. I presume that comes down to a good brand name have a quality tool.

I am totally sold on Gerber multi-plier tools - I don't expect I'll be using anything else in the future.

If this tool interests you, check out the options on Amazon:

You might also be interested in my key ring multitool which has a handy box cutter.

How to sharpen a lawn mower blade safely

Thursday, May 5, 2022
sharpened lawn mower blade

Guide on how to safely sharpen your lawn mower blade

If you are like me, you like to use your lawnmower as a bit of a mulcher machine.

For tough twigs and shit. 

You got to chop 'em up right?

Maybe you like to monster some stray branches or other plant material such as flax (which can go all stringy and cut stuck around the blade) and you simply run over them with the mower to get rid of the waste.

If you do this enough times coupled with hitting the odd stone or when you accidentally manoeuvre the blade onto concrete or brick you've got a blunt blade which makes doing the lawns even harder.

And if you're blade is blunt, the grass isn't being cut as well as it should - meaning more work for you, especially if the grass is wet.

How to sharpen a lawn mower blade by hand with a file

  • Mark which is the downward facing side of the blade with a Sharpie marker or similar. This is so you do not accidentally re-attach it upside down.
  • Remove your blade from the mower and clamp the blade in a vice.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear, especially safety eyewear.
  • Sharpen the blade with a file. Your strokes should go from the inside edge to the out. 
  • You should aim to sharpen at a 45-degree angle. 
  • Your mower blade is sharp enough when it feels like a butter knife - that's suitable enough to cut with, given the force that occurs when it rotates under engine speed. 
  • Reinstall the blade the correct way up. If we have to say it, we have to say it!
A standard file is all you need. 

How to sharpen a lawn mower blade with a drill 

You can use your home handyman drill to sharpen your blade, with the right sharpening attachment.

Usually made of the abrasive corundum (a crystalline form of aluminium oxide), these sharpening aids can be found fairly cheaply on Amazon.

sharpen lawnmower blade with a drill

  • Note which is the downward facing side of the blade with a marker. This is so you do not accidentally re-attach it upside down.
  • Remove your blade from the mower and clamp the blade in a vice with the cutting part of the blade face up. 
  • Add the attachment to the drill. 
  • Put your safety glasses on
  • Line the bevel of the drill up to the blade. This will guide you as you use the drill. 
  • Use a light degree of pressure. 
  • Flip the blade over in the clamp and repeat.
  • Balance your blade

This video tutorial shows an excellent method on how to sharpen the blade safely:

You can also use a rotary tool such as a Dremel, angle grinder or a belt sander to sharpen the blade in the same fashion. Just use the tools in a safety conscious fashion and you'll be fine. 

How sharp should mower blades be?

Blades should be sharpened so they are like a pair of scissors or butter knife, and not like a boning knife. A knife-edge blade will get dull much faster than a correctly sharpened lawn mower blade.

What angle should mower blades be sharpened?

Most blades leave the factory with the blade sharpened at a 45-degree angle.

You should aim for the same.

If you are ever in a lawnmower store, have a feel of the blade - you'll note it is not honed down razor-sharp like say a shaving knife!

Can I sharpen a lawnmower without removing the blade?

No matter how you choose to sharpen your blade, the first thing to do is to disconnect the spark plug by removing the spark plug wire.

This is to prevent the engine from accidentally starting if the blades generate enough pressure to turn the engine - either when removing it or sharpening. 

Yes, you can. It's a little tricky but can be managed. 

As usual, disconnect the spark plug first. 

Turn the mower on it the side so that the air filter and carburettor are facing up (to avoid oil spillage), grab your file and file the blade at 45 degrees. Make sure you do even strokes on either side.

This is a quick and dirty way to sharpen the blade. You do run the risk of sharpening unevenly and make the blade unbalance. 

We recommend you take the blade off, your call though, like most of us, you don't have all day to get the lawns done.

How to balance your blade properly (as all things should be)

After you have sharpened the blade, you can test its balance with a blade-balancing tool. If you don't have such a tool you can try the classic trick of hammering a nail partway into a wall and hang the blade from it (using the centre hole). If the blade hangs horizontally, it is perfectly balanced. 

If one side lowers, you can lighten that side with your file or grinder. It's usually recommended that Material should only be removed from the end of the blade, in the sail area.

How often should I sharpen the mower blade?

Many users sharpen the blades at the beginning of every grass growing season. 

It never hurts to check and give it a tune-up if you frequently use the mower, especially if you've caught a few rocks or mulched some wood with it.

My blade is pretty damaged, what can I do?

damaged lawn mower blade

If your blade has done a diligent service but it's full of cuts and nicks it's probably time to replace it.

You can find plenty of replacements on Amazon. They are usually measured in inches, so make sure the size your order matches that of your machine!

If you are resolute about the blade, you can give it a sharpen but you'll need to accept the blade simply will not cut as efficiently as a well maintained one.

Random question of the day: What is the Star Wars title crawl font?

Can I put a mulching blade on my mower?

If you want your lawnmower to do some heavy action mulching - you might want to consider attaching a blade designed to mulch grass (rather than simply cutting the grass).  When using such a blade, it is usually recommended that you leave the grass to be a little bit longer than you would an ordinary blade. 

You will probably also find you need to sharpen a mulching blader more regularly than a regular blade as they come into contact with the grass more.

Thinking of checking out a cordless electric mower? We've got you covered.

Promise us though that you will never sharpen a blade like this guy pictured below. Sure, he has ear cover and his eyes protected but one false move and he's cut himself so bad, he won't be pushing a lawnmower for a while:

unsafe way to sharpen a lawnmower blade

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