How To Sharpen A Manual Mower’s Blades

When it comes to maintaining a lush, green lawn in the UK, manual mowers are the eco-conscious gardener’s tool of choice. These affordable machines not only offer a peaceful, environmentally friendly mowing experience but also provide a low-impact workout.


To ensure your manual mower continues to deliver the cut quality that your lawn deserves, you’ll need to sharpen the blade every few years, or whenever you notice that it’s blunt. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into manual mower blade sharpening, sharing our personal insights, tips, and all the know-how you need to keep your lawn looking its absolute best.

✅Key Takeaways:

  • Regularly sharpening your manual mower’s blades is essential for maintaining a pristine lawn. Dull blades can tear grass and compromise its health.

  • To sharpen your mower blades effectively, you’ll need a few essential tools, including a flat file, safety gear, and a stable workbench.

  • Our top tips for successful manual mower blade sharpening are to ensure you maintain the original beveled angle, take your time during reassembly to prevent mistakes, and remember that balanced blades lead to a smoother, more even cut during mowing.

Table of Contents

🤷‍♂️ Why Sharpening Manual Mower Blades Matters

The key defining feature of any manual mower is its blades, which cut grass with a snipping action to achieve a beautifully manicured look. Yet, just like any other tool, these blades endure wear and tear over time. Rocks, twigs, and the sheer friction of cutting grass can gradually dull them, which, in turn, leads to a less-than-ideal lawn.


Dull blades tear the grass instead of making clean cuts, leaving your lawn vulnerable to disease and pests. This is why understanding how to sharpen your manual mower’s blades is essential. It not only elevates the aesthetics of your lawn, but also nurtures its overall health.

🗓 How Often Should You Sharpen A Manual Mower’s Blades?

There’s no industry-recognized frequency for sharpening a manual mower’s blade. The good news is that manual reel blades stay sharper and last longer than rotary mower blades. But the blades will inevitably get dull over the years.


Our advice is to carefully check your blades at the end of every grass-growing season. If they look or feel dull, or you’ve noticed more resistance when cutting your grass, it could be time for a sharpening session.

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🤔 How To Sharpen A Manual Mower’s Blades

Manual mowers work uniquely in that they have cylinder blades, not rotary blades.


A rotary blade (found on most petrol and electric models for domestic use) is relatively easy to sharpen because it’s a simple, single blade. A cylinder blade is more complex because it consists of a series of helical (spiral-shaped) blades set horizontally along a cylindrical drum.


Sharpening cylinder blades takes more effort – but it’s not impossible! Below, we’ve shared the tools you’ll need to sharpen your manual reel lawn mower blades, and the 9 steps to follow.

🧰 Gather Your Tools

First, gather all the tools and equipment you’ll need to safely and easily sharpen your reel blades.

These are:

  • Flat file or sharpening stone

  • Safety gloves

  • A workbench or stable surface

  • Safety goggles

  • A broom or brush

  • Lubricating oil

Our Step-by-Step Guide to Sharpening Manual Mower Blades

Once you’ve gathered what you need, you can move on to the blade sharpening process. Follow our 7-step manual reel mower sharpening process outlined below:


Step 1: Put On Your Safety Gear

Your safety comes first, so before you begin, don your safety gloves and goggles. These will protect you from your mower’s sharp blades and any possible airborne debris.


Step 2: Secure The Mower Blades

You want to make sure that your mower blade can’t turn while you’re sharpening it. To do this, wedge a sturdy item, like a broom handle into the blade assembly.


Make sure the mower is lying flat, and if the wheels are resting on a surface, it’s a good idea to chock them with a doorstop or similar item to prevent them from moving (and possibly moving the mower while you’re sharpening the blade).


Step 3: Clean The Blades

If your mower’s blades have leaves, dirt, grass, or other debris on their surface, now’s the time to remove it. We find the best way to remove the dirt is with a handheld wooden brush, like those that come in a sturdy dustpan and brush set.


Step 4: Sharpen The Blades With A File

Next, take your flat file or sharpening stone, choose your first blade to sharpen, and press the file or stone against the blade’s bevled edge. Drag the file or stone along the blade’s edge, from one end th the other, doing your best to match the blade edge’s existing angle. Repeat the pass three to five times until the blade is noticeably sharper.


Step 5: Repeat Steps 2-4 For Each Blade

Once you’ve successfully sharpened your first blade, remove the broom handle, rotate the cylinder until the next blade is accessible, and secure the broom once more so the cylinder can’t spin. Repear the sharpening process outlined above, dragging a file or stone along the blade’s edge until it’s sharpened.


Step 6: Lubricate The Blades

To finish, lightly spray your mower’s blades with WD40 or a similar lubricant. While you’re at it, spray the mower’s other moving parts with the same solution to keep them performing reliably and reduce friction, which causes wear and damage.


Step 7 (Optional): Adjust Your Mower’s Blade Alignment

The final step is only necessary if your mower’s blade alignment is improper. To check your mower’s blade alignment, remove the broom handle from the cylinder and use your hand to spin it slowly. Any sound of scraping suggests that the blades are too close to the cutting bar (or bed knife). If the reel seems loose oe spins too easily, you’ll need to adjust them so they the are closer to the cutting bar.


Once you’ve got an idea of how you need to re-align your mower blades, either tighten the screws on the side of the reel (to bring the blades closer) or loosen the screws (to move the blades further away) with a flathead screwdriver. It’s best to do this slowly, checking after every small turn to see whether you need to make any further adjustments.

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🛠 How To Maintain Your Manual Mower Blades

There are a few things that we recommend you do to keep your manual mower’s blades sharp. Here are our top three tips:

  1. Sharpen Whenever Needed: As we said, manual reel mower blades don’t need sharpening as often as rotary blades. But you should still make sure to sharpen your blaes once every few years, or whenever you notice that your mower’s blades are blunt or you’re finding it more difficult than normal to cut your grass.

  2. Clean The Blades Post-Mow: Clean your blades after each use to prevent grass clippings from accumulating, which can can gradually dull the edge over time.

  3. Inspect Your Blades Often: Always check your blades for damage after mowing. Promptly addressing any issues will save you headaches down the line.

🏁 Final Word

A well-maintained manual mower with sharp blades is the best way to sustain an impeccably manicured lawn. By following our comprehensive guide on how to sharpen a manual mower’s blades, you’re not just mowing your lawn; you’re nurturing it.


We wrote this article to provide you with our own unique and personal perspective on manual mower blade sharpening. Hardly any other UK websites discuss sharpening a manual mower’s blade, and given that this is important knowledge to have, we gave you everything you need to know in this guide. Hopefully, you find our insights helpful, but if not, get in touch – we’re happy to answer any questions you might have if we’ve not covered them here!