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The lawn mower blade is the most overlooked and undervalued part of the lawn mower, yet it's condition has the most direct effect on the quality of cut and turf health.
If your looking to help keep your lawn better looking,healthier, and also prolong the mower and blade life then consider how
you sharpen blades.
More importantly I believe there are also health benefits from correct blade sharpening and many small engine repair shops may do a good job at keeping your blades sharp but overlook balancing them. No concern to most but for anyone with RA you will see reduced vibration which means less fatigue.
The first thing to consider is don't sharpen mower blades the same manor you sharpen knives. Hopefully the reason will become clear as we continue. This is not so much sharpening a blade as it is correctly sharpening a circular cutter with two teeth (or two cutters).
For years I always sharpened my mower blades with a 4-1/2" Milwaukee grinder using a flap (sanding) wheel. I would sharpen my blades with the same thought process as sharpening a knife (get it sharp). And over time the blade tips got very rounded off.
The first issue is that the two ends of your blade do approximately 90% of all the cutting within the first inch or so from the end of the blade. This leads to more wear at the tip of the blade and is obvious as you see the blade tips wear and the tips of the blade start to round off (unless you sharpen the way you should and remove the metal all the way across the blade squaring it up each time).
That said if you have a knife edge on your mower blade and have a good squared off corner on the ends of your blade it will cut fine. However the small area on the tip of the blade becomes dull first and fast since it is a small area and is doing most of the work. This normally can start to happen within the first pass when mowing. Once the sharp edge begins to dull (round over) instead of cutting grass it's more like tearing or ripping the grass because the knife edge now has a rounded edge (more like a butter knife edge). This will be evident by brown tips showing up after you mow. Small gravel or rocks that you happen to lift up will also take a nick out of the sharp edge easier.
Next issue is as you sharpen the blade each time it becomes shorter (blades are measured diagonally) . Some mowers are worse then others depending how far they overlap each other but if you start seeing strips or ridges in the grass where you just mowed then it's possible your blades are worn out. Lets say you have three blades under your mower and you look back and see two ridges in the grass behind you.
So to make those blades last longer and sharpened less I believe that they should be sharpened similar to this photo below.
Balancing is another issue. I guess the first question is why balance a blade?
A blade that is not in balance will cause vibrations. And vibration is not good on your equipment shorting the life of spindle bearings and will add to the vibrations of the mower and also what the operator feels.
I'd like to say it's ok to just use the nail in a wall method or a cheap table top balancer but they will not give you good reliable and repeatable results. And in some cases you can do more harm then good.Of Course the blade needs to be clean before performing the balancing.
The better balancer you purchase the better job you will do making your machine operate longer with less operator fatigue. I have personal experienced this and it's important to prevent my RA from flaring up any worse than it already is.
Below is a photo of a brand new aftermarket blade for my Ferris mower. It wasn't off much but you can see by the cut I made that the original milling wasn'tconsistent. So far I have seen new blades out of balance and also bent.
Below are three more new blades (I bought asset of 12) . All three straight but all three blades were borderline severe imbalance.
I obtained a lot of good info from Mangna-Matic, a quality third generation USA business that only uses quality USA made parts.
Take a little time and watch this free webinar. He does a way better job at explaining things than I can write. I'm just learning after years of sharpening blades like a knife.