How to Sharpen Lawn Mower Blades
For a Clean Cut, You Need a Sharp Mower Blade
A sharp lawn mower blade cuts cleanly for a professional, finished look to your yard and improves the health of the lawn. Dirt, sand and debris can quickly dull a lawn mower blade, even when used on a near-perfect lawn. A dull blade tears through the grass, leaving ragged edges that are more susceptible to pests and disease, leaving your lawn with an uneven cut.
Cleaning and sharpening a lawn mower blade is very easy and takes only a few minutes. To make the job even easier, purchase a spare blade for your mower and rotate blades every few weeks, swapping out the dull blade for a pre-sharpened replacement. A clean and sharp lawn mower blade provides a clean cut for a great looking and a healthy lawn.
After all of the time and money spent on fertilizer, watering and weed control, spend an extra couple of minutes to sharpen your lawn mower blade. Your grass will thank you!
How to Sharpen Your Mower Blade
Step 1: Remove the Mower Blade
- The first step in sharpening a lawn mower blade involves removing the blade from the mower.
- Before attempting to remove the blade, disconnect the spark plug wire to prevent the mower from starting accidentally.
- Also, drain the gas tank to avoid spilling fuel on your lawn or driveway. With the spark plug disconnected, turn the mower on it's side to expose the blade and the retaining hardware.
- Using a block of wood as a wedge to hold the blade in place, remove the retaining bolt with a socket or large wrench (my Toro mower uses a 7/8" socket). Some mower models have three bolts which must be removed. If the bolt is rusted on or is especially tight, slip a short section of pipe over the ratchet handle; the longer handle provides additional leverage for removing stubborn nuts and bolts.
- Before removing the blade, take note of the blade's orientation and the retaining bracket and washer. Most lawn mower blades have distinctive "top" and "bottom" sides, and the blade must be re-installed in the proper orientation. With the blade removed, use a penetrating oil such as WD-40 and a rag to clean both surfaces of the blade.
- Inspect the cutting edges carefully; in most cases, the blade will be dull and worn with just minor nicks along the edge. If the blade is noticeably bent or if the cutting edge is suffering from deep dings, the edge may need to be professionally re-ground or possibly replaced.
Step 2: Work the Edge
- In most cases, just a light sharpening is all that is needed to increase the cutting efficiency of the blade.
- Using a fine-tooth metal file (designed for use with metal), clamp the blade securely on a workbench and lightly file the cutting edge. Take care to follow the established bevel of the blade. Use light but firm strokes.
- Start the stroke in the center of the blade and work outwards.
- After a few strokes, flip the blade over. The filing process creates a "burr" or ridge on the backside of the blade. With a few light strokes, remove the burr from the backside of the blade to reveal the sharpened edge. Repeat this process on the other cutting edge of the blade.
What tools to use:
- A fine-tooth metal file (designed for use with metal) works great.
- A drill, rotary tool or a rotary sharpening stone is a good alternative to the metal file, especially if the blade is very dull or has a few dings on the cutting surface. With the rotary sharpening stone spinning at the tool's higher RPMs, a few light passes along the cutting edge will quickly restore the blade's sharp edge (you still have to remove the bur from the back side of the blade to create the sharp edge).
- A grinder is another alternative, though this removes a lot of material and is harder to control than either the metal file or rotary sharpening stone. But if the blade has large dings, a hand-held or bench grinder may be the best option to restore the blade's edge.
Step 3: Balance the Blade
After sharpening both ends of the blade, it is important to ensure that the blade is balanced. An unbalanced blade spinning at high speeds can damage the mower's motor and is dangerous to the operator.
To determine if the blade is balanced properly, simply hang the blade on the wall from a nail, supporting it in the middle. A balanced blade will sit level to the ground or workbench. I used a small triangular block to check the lawn mower blade in the photo for proper balance. If the blade is unbalanced and tips to one side, make a few light passes with the file on the side of the blade that is tipping downward and try again.
Consider Having a Back-Up Mower Blade
Consider purchasing a spare blade for your mower. Keeping a spare mower blade sharpened makes it quick and easy to swap out the dull blade for the sharpened spare and quickly gets you back out and cutting with a sharp blade. Later, sharpen the first blade, wipe it with the penetrating oil and then store the blade until it's time to swap the blades again.
How often do you need to sharpen your mower blade?
I usually swap my blades every few weeks or when the mower's cut leaves random blades of grass standing tall.
Still not sure how to sharpen a lawn mower blade? Take a few minutes to watch this video, and see how easy it is to sharpen your own lawn mower blade. Why pay someone else to do a simple chore that you can do yourself?
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How to Kill Nutsedge
Product Review: Ortho Nutsedge Weed KillerNutsedge is perennial grass-like plant that spreads by seed or through underground rhizomes and tubers. Its three-side stalk easily identifies nutsedge as a member of the sedge family. Pluck a stalk from the ground and gently roll it between your thumb and forefinger. If the plant is a nutsedge, you will feel the triangular shape of the stalk.
Once established in a lawn, nutsedge spreads quickly and aggressively during the warm summer months. It is very difficult weed to control. Within a few days of mowing the lawn, the bright yellow-green nutsedge leaves grow above the rest of the grasses. As the cold weather approaches, leaf growth slows and the nutsedge seems to disappear among the blades of turf grass. But it is still there, going dormant for the winter and getting ready to burst forth in greater numbers in the following spring.
There are two types of nutsedge found commonly in lawns and garden beds throughout North America: Yellow Nutsedge and Purple Nutsedge. The two plants closely resemble each other and though I think the invader in my front yard is the Yellow Nutsedge variety, I'm not really sure. It doesn't really matter if it's yellow or purple; it was spreading quickly and I wanted it gone. There are several products available that claim to kill nutsedge. I tried a couple of different general lawn care products that target weeds, with different levels of success. However, the nutsedge seemed too tough for the general-purpose weed killer that targets the pest plant but leaves the grass alone.
Then, a friend suggested Ortho Nutsedge Killer for Lawns so I ordered a couple of bottles. This product comes premixed in a small spray bottle and applying the Nutsedge Killer is as easy as spraying the offending plant with the lethal liquid. Coverage is somewhat spotty, and I used about a bottle and a half to spray about a ten-square foot area plus hitting several isolated little nutsedge islands that popped up here and there around the lawn.
The impact was almost immediate and within 48-hours, the nutsedge was already turning brown and starting to wilt. This isn't a guarantee that Ortho Nutsedge Killer will work for you but if you are trying to control this botanical pest, buying a bottle or two seems like a small risk. I'm sure that I'll need to buy more in the future because nutsedge is a tough perennial and there are still lots of little tubers just beneath the surface that are waiting for their turn to sprout. If too many do, they'll get hit with a dose of Ortho Nutsedge Killer.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2012 Anthony Altorenna