Closeup of a reel lawn mower as it cuts grass.

8 Steps For How To Sharpen A Reel Mower With A File

4 minutes

You can sharpen the blades of a reel lawn mower in many different ways. One of the best is by using a file. Before getting to the 8 steps for how to sharpen a reel mower with a file though, it’s important to start with how you can even tell your reel lawn mower blades need to be sharpened.

How Can I Tell That My Reel Lawn Mower Needs Sharpening?

Closeup of a comparison of two lawn mower blades.

If your reel lawn mower isn’t cutting the grass as well as normal, it’s time to check the blades. Be careful, but if the blades are dull, it’s time for them to get sharpened. In general, check your lawn mower’s blades at least twice per season.

How to Sharpen a Reel Mower with a File

1. Get The Right Tools For The Job

As with any lawn mower job, getting the right tools is the difference between success and failure. Below is a list of the tools you’ll need to sharpen a reel mower with a file.

2. Practice Good Safety

There’s nothing more important than safety. First, make sure your lawn mower is off. Next, make sure you’re working in a safe location, such as a garage. I recommend always wearing safety glasses and gloves. I also recommend not wearing any kind of jewelry or loose-fitting clothes. Finally, make sure you’re awake and not distracted enough to perform this task.

3. Stop The Blades From Moving

After making sure you’re safe, double-check to make sure the blades aren’t moving and can’t start. The best way to do this is to insert something between the blades so they can’t move, such as a broom handle. It’s also a good idea to make it so the lawn mower’s wheels can’t move either, which you can do by chocking the wheels with blocks of wood.

4. Clean The Blades

Like any well-used tool, lawn mower blades are going to show signs of use. They’re going to be covered in grass, dirt, and other things, all of which need to be removed before sharpening. Metal brushes or emery paper will do the trick. Just be sure the emery paper is metal-graded. A hose, towel, and bucket can also help remove some of the grime.

5. Sharpen The Blades

Next, it’s time to sharpen the blades. Using the mill file, sweep it across the surface of the blade at an angle. Doing so smoothly will not damage the blades. Check the blades (carefully) every so often to see if they’re as sharp as you desire. Once done, turn the blade to the other side and repeat the process.

6. Repeat The Process

Once you’ve sharpened one blade, it’s time to sharpen the rest. Although it’s tempting to go quickly to get the job done faster, keep a steady pace and take breaks if necessary. After the first blade, you’ll need to get the next blade in position for sharpening, which may require removing the broom handle and replacing it once the blade is in place.

7. Lubricate The Blades

Now, for the final step. Many people don’t do this, but it’s an important part of the process. Lubricating the blades protects them when they’re used and reduces how often you need to sharpen them. Spray them with a light coat of WD40 and wipe them with a cloth.

8. Test The Blades

After everything’s done, it’s time to see if the blades are cutting better than before. This is pretty easy to do, you just need some paper. Slide the paper in between the reel and the cutting bar, then spin the reel to see if you get a nice cut. If you do, your reel lawn mower is ready to start cutting the grass again.

In Conclusion: How To Sharpen A Reel Mower With A File

Reel lawn mowers are well-liked because they let you cut grasses manually. But if the blades are dull, then it can cause a lot of problems and extra work for you. So, sharpening the reel lawn mower is an important job.

So, what do you think about how to sharpen a reel mower with a file? What have your experiences with lawn mower maintenance been like before?

Let us know in the comments below!

Todd L Miles
Lawn Mowers Enthusiast
I started "Landscape and Lawns Care" to provide clients with lawn care with better service, better products and, most importantly, better ethics. My promise to every customer is to give the greenest grass possible while controlling weeds, insects, and diseases! The most important thing is that I strive to always do the right thing for you, your lawn and your wallet!