How to Sharpen a Reel Mower

How to Sharpen a Reel Mower

6 minutes

Nothing works better than a good old reel mower to keep your yard all nice and clean. However, your mower can quickly become blunt and lose its sharpness with all that usage. 

If you know how to sharpen a reel mower, there is no reason for you to worry. This will actually allow you to take care of the mower and use it for years without any issues. 

Well, that sure sounds like a plan, doesn’t it? So, stick around with us as we go through all the steps to ensure you a super-sharp reel mower. 

Benefits of Sharpening a Reel Mower

You can enjoy several advantages by sharpening your reel mower periodically. 

  1. One of the most obvious advantages is the crisp cut. Let us put that in simple terms. 
  2. The blades of the reel mower are like a pair of scissors. As a result, it provides clean cuts and gives your lawn a more polished look. Keep in mind that you cannot achieve that result by using any sort of dull or blunt blades. So, to maximize the output, you need to maintain the sharpness of your reel mower. 
  3. Another important advantage is the swiftness. That is right. A sharp blade will perform much faster and more efficiently than a dull one. Hence, you can boost up your working speed by sharpening your reel mower. 
  4. Lastly, it elongates the lifespan of your mower and saves you money. That means you get to use the same reel mower for a longer period rather than purchasing a new one. Besides, it also prevents wastage of fuel, thus you can utilize the full potential of your resources. 
How to Sharpen a Reel Mower

How to Sharpen a Reel Mower

Unlike other techniques, sharpening a reel mower is quite simple. Instead of super-complicated processes, you only need to follow several easy steps to achieve this. And so, we will briefly explain all these steps below to make sure that you don’t face any difficulties. 

Disassemble the wheels

To begin the process, you will need to take off the wheels of your reel mower. Now, you can either remove one of the wheels only or remove both of them. Use any screwdriver to gently loosen up the screws at the end. Once this is done, carefully remove the knob that holds the wheel and disassemble it. 

Alternate the gears 

The reason behind alternating the position of the gears is to make it run in the opposite direction. Therefore, you have to take off the outer part of the lawn mower to fully expose the gear. 

After this, swap the gears. That means placing the left gear in the right position and the right gear in the left position. This way, when you run it, the gears will move backward. 

Position the blade

At this stage, what you need to do is position the fixed blades in a way that makes it difficult to rotate the mower blades entirely. To do this, you can adjust the two screws at both the front and back which hold the blade in place. 

While adjusting the screws, keep two things in mind: firstly, you’re trying to release the tension on the back screws, so, loosen them up slightly; secondly, slightly tighten the front screws. As a result, the blade will become rigid and difficult to rotate. 

Apply grinding substance 

Remember how people used to sharpen their weapons with stones and rocks? Well, we are going to apply the same strategy here. Instead of using stones, you will be using an abrasive or grinding substance. 

Now, if you want an easy solution, you can always use store-bought sharpening kits. There are plenty of options available in the market. Otherwise, grinding compounds will work just fine, they’re also the cheaper alternative. 

Start sharpening

The goal is to push the reel mower backward. Now, as we have already mentioned, the screws are all tightened up, and the blades are quite difficult to rotate.

What you’ll need to do is push the mower until the blades start moving freely. After that, tighten the screws once again and repeat the process. Continue doing that until you notice clean and sparkling blades. 

Clean up the grit 

You will notice some grit while rotating the blades and sharpening them up. These come from the build-ups and the abrasive compound that you just used. 

However, if you leave those grits on the blade, it will interrupt the sharpening process and make the overall process slower. So, be sure to wash all of that residue off with some water. 

Rearrange the gears 

Well done! At this stage, you’ve completed most of the work. So now, it is time to put everything back in place. Start by taking the wheels off once again. Remember how you swapped the gears? Well, alternate their positions one more time so that they are back in their initial position. 

Reassemble the wheels

By now, all the components are back in their respective places except the wheels. Therefore, put the wheel on your reel mower and secure it with a screwdriver. Do not forget to check whether there are any loose ends or not. 

And thus, you can successfully sharpen your reel mower all by yourself! 

When to Replace a Blunt Reel Mower?

We have talked a lot about sharpening reel mowers throughout the article. Now, there are times when sharpening no longer works. For cases like these, using the same blunt mower blades increases the risk factors. 

That is why it is extremely important to know when to stop sharpening your reel mower and get a replacement. Routine checkups are the easiest way to determine whether you should keep it or not. 

To do that, you need to take out the blades first. After that, observe the condition of the blade. If you see minor chips or build-ups, there is no reason to worry. Filing the blades will be enough to revive its sharpness.

However, things are different for cracks, bends, and ridges. These cases are more crucial. Therefore, to avoid unnecessary risks, you should get a replacement. 

Again, in some cases, the edges of the blades tend to appear slimmer than the rest of the body, and that is a major sign of deterioration of your blades. So, whenever you notice that, consider renewing your mower blades. 


People tend to have several misconceptions about the effectiveness of reel mowers. However, learning how to sharpen a reel mower dispels any further confusion. 

So, make sure to keep your reel mower blades in check and sharpen them from time to time. This way, you can utilize the maximum potential of your mower and get a precise cut every time! 

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!

1 comment

Nathan Jackson says:

I have a new self propelled lawn mower and can’t start it

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