Most scythes sold are narrow, thick, and heavy. They feel "clunky" and are more suited to cutting brush than grass. In complete contrast to this is the traditional Austrian scythe. The blade is wide, thin, light in weight, and very sharp. It is mounted to a straight aluminum snath (handle) with grips that adjust to the height of the user.
A healthful and low-cost way to maintain or harvest a small acreage. Blade measures 29" long, snath measures 59" long.
Compare at Lee Valley: http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?p=10198&cat=2,2160,40710
There are two types of scythes: the American and the European (or Austrian) scythe (Figure 1). Confusion is caused because both types are made in Austria. The American scythe has a thicker, narrower, straight blade made of hard steel. To allow the straight blade to closely follow the soil surface, the American scythe has an intricately curved snath (handle). The European scythe, on the other hand, has a blade that is much thinner, curved, and made of a slightly softer steel than the American scythe. Because the shape of the blade allows it to follow the soil surface, the snath of the European scythe is straight or almost straight. The American scythe is what you would normally buy in a farm supply store in the U.S. The European scythe is common in Europe. Although preferences may vary, the European scythe is more suited for extensive use. It weighs a lot less than the American scythe. An American scythe purchased in a local farm store in Pennsylvania weighed almost 6 lbs (2.70 kg), while a European scythe weighed less than 4 lbs (1.75 kg). It is clear that, when making perhaps 10 thousand cuts to mow one acre, there is a big difference in the effort needed. Second, the blade of the European scythe follows the ground smoothly because of its shape without the need for a complicated snath. Third, the blade of the European scythe can be made paper-thin by peening (hammering using a hammer and anvil or a special peening jig), and is sharpened in the field with a whetting stone. In contrast, the American scythe needs to be sharpened with a grinder or other sharpening device, which can usually not be carried to the field.
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