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Old 10-24-2012, 02:10 PM   #1
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Blade Sharpening


I have a small workbench top grinder that I have used in the past to sharpen my mower deck blades. I also attempt a basic balancing with an inexpensive little gadget that's basically an inverted cone shaped piece of plastic that sits atop a pivot point.
Results have been mediocre at best and so I started calling around to see what the pro's would charge, which turns out to be $8.00 per blade.
That got me wondering if there was some kind of jig or other tool that would help me to get better results in sharpening my blades. Or should I just bite the bullet and let the pro's do it?
Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Rob

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Old 10-24-2012, 02:17 PM   #2
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Blade Sharpening


There are jigs to hold the blade at an optimum angle to your grinding wheel but they will not necessarily help with balance issues. Maybe I was lazy and it helped the sharpening shop was a few blocks away. I got in the habit of dropping off blades, knives, bits, etc. almost every week. They would straighten, tip, balance and sharpen them and I found it money well spent.

$8 doesn't sound so bad. If it is real sharpening shop and you have other things overdue for some attention? Think about combining all and see if the shop will cut you a discount. Won't it be nice to have a nice sharp blade to cut up the Holiday roasts?

By the way, my sharpening folk became a fave source for things people forgot to come back for and I got some great deals on expensive bits and things.

And one other thing to mention? I found very few long mower blades that were not wacked brand new from the foundries and got in the habit of having the folks tune them. Obviously one untrue and unbalanced can screw up your machine. I managed turf for quite awhile in California and my clients had persons on staff to deal almost exclusively with tool sharpening. You might swing by your local parks or golf course maintenance shed to ask some advice. My clients turf maintenance guys would have helped you with anything you needed, especially those that worked for snotty country clubs. One year I noticed more nice little lawns around towns I worked and a noticeable bump in seed and fertilizer costs. Biff/Missy/Trip and Thurston Howell III would have been to embarassed to admit loss of a few grand in fertilizer, seed and weed killer.

I would expect you to bribe/embibe the guys with something like coffee or beer over the course of the year though. Gonna cost you $8 at least that way too but would be more festive? Grounds maintenance sheds are very special places more with some bravery in them should visit. And yes dammit, your taxes do pay for the public people. Be sure to mention this, stomp your feet and demand many things on your first visit. Seriously, rent the CaddyShack and just watch the Bill Murray scenes. He had to have done some turfgrass maintenance shed research!


Last edited by user1007; 10-24-2012 at 05:55 PM. Reason: Added last paragraphs
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Old 10-24-2012, 06:41 PM   #3
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Blade Sharpening


I have a pretty well equipped shop, prefer an angle grinder to a bench grinder for sharpening blades by the way, and have jigs that I built myself for both, but still rotate them through one of the local sharpening shops periodically. I always keep at least one extra set of blades, usually two sets, which I typically sharpen myself once, twice, maybe three times, then drop them off the next time. Situations vary, but we have several acres of lawn, with plenty of deciduous trees, and there are a lot of stray branches on the ground in the spring, so, after picking up what we can, I set the cutting height high, and mow the first time of the year with a set of blades that are close to needing sharpening. My reasoning for this is that a sharp edge is more likely to be nicked by stray branches that I might hit. After that first high cutting though, I lower the cutting height and switch to a set that has come back from the sharpener, in order to make a nice neat slice on the tender blades. No matter how careful you are, I think that it is extremely difficult to duplicate the expertise of a good sharpening shop. If you are going to continue sharpening them yourself, I would invest the time in setting up the correct angle on your grinder, then setting your factory rest there, or making your own rest. Also, as for checking balance, I have seen the cones that you mentioned, but a nail on the wall also works well. And, when you are sharpening, see if there is a curve of the cutting edge; although normal after use, it is not the way that it first came to you, so that needs to be straightened out as part of your sharpening process, in order to get good balance, particulalry if you have two or more blades on your deck.
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:52 PM   #4
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Blade Sharpening


Quote:
Originally Posted by RCrosby257 View Post
I have a small workbench top grinder that I have used in the past to sharpen my mower deck blades. I also attempt a basic balancing with an inexpensive little gadget that's basically an inverted cone shaped piece of plastic that sits atop a pivot point.
Results have been mediocre at best and so I started calling around to see what the pro's would charge, which turns out to be $8.00 per blade.
That got me wondering if there was some kind of jig or other tool that would help me to get better results in sharpening my blades. Or should I just bite the bullet and let the pro's do it?
Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Rob
My sons & I did professional lawn mowing for quite a few years. Here's what I learned...

1. I always used a 4" angle grinder to sharpen my blades. Put them in the bench vise, and went at it. I cut at a sharp angle for better cutting, and longer wear.

2. I never balanced by blades. I watched my sharpening closely, and that was close enough. Compared to the grass & other stuff that gets hung up on those blades, a tiny imbalance is the least of your worries.

3. I only sharpened blades once. The next time I bought new. I found that, no matter how awesome a grind I put on them, they just did not cut well the second time around.

For the record, I don't think $8 per blade is a terrible price for sharpening, but it's not an awesome price either.


That's my 2 cents' worth...
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Old 12-20-2012, 06:30 PM   #5
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Blade Sharpening


Hi!

Sometimes grass/dirt build up on one side of the blade can make balancing more difficult. Take a scraper and remove as much grass/dirt buildup as possible. The plastic cone shape balancers are not as good or accurate as the metal cones.

If you don't feel like sharpening the blades yourself, $7 - $8 is about the going rate in most shops nowadays.

Stay safe.

Regards,
Mark P.
Central State Mower, LLC
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Old 12-20-2012, 06:45 PM   #6
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Blade Sharpening


After sharpening my own for years, I took mine into a local lawn equipment repair place and paid them to sharpen them to see what the difference was. I figured they would have some type of jig to get the proper angle on them. The guy sharpened them while I waited and I could see him through the doorway. He just did it freehand on an bench grinder.
Needless to say, I'm back to doing them myself.
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:13 PM   #7
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Blade Sharpening


When I worked in a small engine repair shop, we used a grinding wheel just to take out the nicks, then used a 1" belt sander to sharpen the blade.....everytime. The balancer we used was magnetic and mounted to the wall.
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:53 PM   #8
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Blade Sharpening


there are plenty of ways to sharpen them just us any method, while sharpening just bee careful don`t hurt your self.
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Old 03-12-2013, 06:34 PM   #9
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Blade Sharpening


I used to use a bench grinder but I now use my Bosch 4.5 inch right angle grinder. Always ear protection a full face shield and tight leather gloves. When I am done I jut spin them on the shaft of a short length of 1/2 inch drill rod with a little oil on it and watch what happens. If the blade just stops spinning and dosent back drift fine if it does, I take a bit off the heavy end. I have no vibration out of my deck so I guess I am doing OK.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:17 PM   #10
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Blade Sharpening


I have always balanced my blades by using a 16 penny nail driven into a wall stud. Use a level and make sure that the nail is straight and level. Set the blade on the nail (in the center, not touching the wall). If the blade rotates down, then grind a little off that end and try again. When the blade sits level and does not rotate, it is balanced.

I have been doing it this way since I was a pre-teen. I am now 69 and it has not failed me yet.
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Old 04-01-2013, 08:24 PM   #11
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Blade Sharpening


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Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
we used a grinding wheel just to take out the nicks,
then used a 1" belt sander to sharpen the blade
^^This. The actual sharpening can be done very nicely with nothing more than a flat file. Getting the "I ran over a rock or the sewer clean-out" dings and gashes smoothed out really does need some sort of power tool.

Balancing the blade really shouldn't be needed unless that loss of metal from those dings and gashes is rather substantial.
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Old 05-03-2013, 02:36 AM   #12
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Blade Sharpening


I always sharpen my blades by hand with a flat file. Put them in my bench vice, take a little off the top, and make a flat spot on the leading edge, about the thickness of a credit card. They shouldn't be as sharp as a razor, unless you're going to sharpen them before every use.

Only balance them if they've got an "oh, look, I found a rock the kids threw in the yard" sized ding in the blade that had to be smoothed out.
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Old 05-03-2013, 04:01 AM   #13
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Blade Sharpening


As I have suggested before, I was spoiled in that I had an expert sharpening shop that did everything from home/restaurant kitchen knives to lawnmower and saw blades, and drill bits near me. The owner was also a CPA and did taxes for people (not me but not because he was not good at it) which I found hilarious and ironic. He managed to hire some of the most drop dead gorgeous women as sharpeners too! More irony in that. If I wanted to get in trouble with the comment.

It just became habit to drop things off and not deal with them myself. And I do really, really like working with sharp tools because they are much safer. I was a regular customer and loved buying drill bits and saw blades someone stuck him with so didn't pay $8 to sharpen and balance a simple rotary mower blade though. At that price point, I would just stroke the thing after each mowing with a flat file and toss it for a new one if you bent it on a rock or something, wasteful as that strategy is.

When managing turf, I had a person on staff for my crew and their equipment that did not much more than keep mowers and trimmers sharp so never thought about what people might have to pay to keep their equipment in good working order.

I do think keeping a blade that spins---at the RPM a rotary lawnmower does---sharp and balanced extremely important. Others seem to disagree and I guess there is a difference between a piece of equipment used all day long, five days of the week and one on weekends. So the one on the weekend vibrates and rocks around a bit more.

A balanced blade just feels better, reduces machine vibration and noise and is easier on shaft seals and bearings.

A sharp one is much healthier for the turf and the mowed lawn does not have that horrid brown split-ends look that screams it was mowed with a dull blade. I just hate seeing that. Property owner does everything right as far as feeding and pest control. And then wacks the turf with a dull blade so it looks tan on top after a fresh mowing because to cheap to sharpen a blade---or buy a new one. And a torn and fractured cut like that just opens the turf up to a fungus invasion.

Last edited by user1007; 05-03-2013 at 05:31 AM.
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Old 05-05-2013, 01:53 PM   #14
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Blade Sharpening


The magnetic balancer mentioned earlier (probably a Magna-Matic) is ideal IMO because it not only is extremely easy to get a blade precisely balanced, but it has a little indicator built in to check for bent blades. My brother has a Magna-Matic and a professional grinder in his shop, which is conveniently across the road from me. I'm always surprised at just how bent some of my blades get from what I'd consider normal use............

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