Push mower sharpening kit. How To Sharpen Reel Mower Blades With A File Or Sharpening Compound

How To Sharpen Reel Mower Blades With A File Or Sharpening Compound

Reel lawn mowers are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. As a manual mower, they cut grass as you push it along.

Yet just like their rotary blade cousins, the blades on a real mower can dull, or need a basic adjustment.

Fortunately, there are a few different ways to sharpen reel mower blades. In this article, I’ll tell you how to sharpen reel mower blades with a file or use a sharpening compound for the best possible cut performance.

How To Sharpen Blades On A Reel Lawn Mower

How Does a Reel Lawnmower Work?

The sharpness of the blades can affect a reel mower in a variety of ways. Since the wheels and the blades essentially work in tandem, when the blades start to dull it will make it more work to essentially push the mower along.

At the same time, dull blades are also more likely to push over blades of grass rather than cut them.

Significantly dull or rusty reel mower blades can also damage grass making your lawn more prone to turf disease, pests, and potential fungus issues.

Can I Sharpen Reel Mower Blades?

Reel mower blades are designed to last longer and stay sharper than rotary mower blades. Still, as time goes on they will inevitably start to dull, and perhaps develop pits of rust.

This is even more likely to be an issue if you frequently let your lawn grow longer than 4-inches or if you cut the grass when it’s still a little damp.

Some rotary lawnmower blades can be sharpened with a bench grinder or electric handheld power grinder. These are the wrong tools for the job when it comes to sharpening a reel mower blade.

how to sharpen a reel mower with a file?

In my opinion, a mill file is an ideal tool for sharpening reel mower blades. Some hardware stores will even carry special mill files that are specifically designed for sharpening reel mower blades.

But to be honest, a simple handheld mill file is all you need. If you’re looking for one, we recommend this grinding mill file.

Here are 5 steps you can follow to sharpen the blades on a reel mower using a file.

Secure the blades to prevent the reel from spinning

This calls for wedging a broom handle or a hardwood dowel into the blade assembly to keep it from accidentally turning while your fingers are in the “Danger Zone.”

Laying the mower on a large work surface and chocking the wheels with a doorstop or shims would also be a good idea.

Don’t think that just because the blades are too dull to cut grass that they can’t give you a nasty finger wound!

Clean Away Any Debris like grass and dirt

You can use a stiff wire brush or some coarse sandpaper to carefully remove any debris from the blades and surrounding surfaces. If you use sandpaper, make sure it is rated for metal.

scrape the file on the blade between

To do this you carefully press the toothed end of the metal mill file on the beveled edge of the first blade.

The goal is to angle the plane of the file to perfectly match the beveled edge of the blade. You aren’t trying to create a new angle.

You are just trying to remove a millimeter or two of dull metal to replicate the original sharp beveled edge.

This usually takes three to five passes, depending on how rusty or dull the blade edge has become.

Repeat previous steps 3 to 6 times

Once you have filed away as much as you can on the first blade, you will need to remove the broom handle and carefully rotate the cylinder to fully access the next blade. Then re-secure the blades and repeat the sharpening process.

Lubricate and Protect blades after sharpening

When you are done sharpening all the blades, you should light spray all moving parts with a penetrating lubricant like WD40.

You should also coat the blades with penetrating lubricant, or a little bit of linseed oil soaked into a clean paper towel.

Sharpen a Push Reel Mower

Easier than it looks.- basically reverse the rotation and lap with a grinding compound

Here is a video of the mower cutting grass once it is all sharp.

I recently bought a Fiskar push reel mower and it is great:

Step 1: Basics

A push reel mower is like scissors, except one blade is fixed and the other blade is on a reel.

The blades make a spiral so they are only cutting in one small spot at a time.

  • Make it so the blades rotate the wrong way
  • Put grinding compound on the blades, this makes the blades into there own sharpening stones
  • Push the mower around until it is easy, this is called lapping (maybe reverse lapping. )
  • Wash off the grinding compound
  • Make the blades so they go the right way again
  • Mow the lawn

Step 4: Swap the Gears

Put the left gear on the right side and the right gear on the left side.

push, mower, sharpening, sharpen, reel

Now it will run backwards.

Step 6: Adjust the Fixed Blade

The blade that is fixed (not on the reel) can be positioned by adjusting two screws.

You want to make it so the fixed blade is touching the reel blades, so that it is hard to rotate the blades (but not impossible).

Step 7: Apply Grinding Compound

Putting valve grinding compound on the blades makes them into their own sharpening stones. The blades will sharpen each other, eventually they will both be sharp and fit together perfectly.

They have this at auto parts stores and on amazon: Valve Grinding Compound

Step 8: Push the Mower Backwards

Pushing the mower backwards will now sharpen the blades. Push the mower until it the reel is moving easily, then adjust the screws on the fixed blade so that it is is hard to push the mower. Now push the mower until it is easy, again. You want to repeat this until the blades are shiny all the way across.

Step 10: Wash Off the Grit With Water

As the blade gets sharper you can start to wash off the grit with water. This makes the blade easier to turn. You also want all the grinding compound to be gone by the time you are done.

Step 12: Swap the Gears, Again

Put the gears back on the correct sides. So that the mower will go forwards.

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Комментарии и мнения владельцев

Thank you so much! Revitalized a free-bee mower. 🙂

Couldn’t be bothered changing the gears so reverse rotated it by hand. Did end up with a lot of grinding compound on my hands as I spun it. Worked brilliantly. Now I have sharp blades and got such smooth exfoliated hands too. Double win.

Thanks Marc, great instructable. I wasn’t able to get the wheels off to change the gears around, but even rotating the reel backwards by hand was enough to sharpen things up nicely. Makes mowing the lawn a pleasure again. And the grinding paste worked great on my grass shears as well. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Just wonder should the pin be swaped too. How are the pins to be positioned? Can you illustrate further with photos or scatches. Thanks.

I just swapped the gears and didnt touch the pins. I had no problems.

Maybe different models require the pins to be turned. it didn’t work for me until I turned the pins over so the squared edges and curved edges went in the opposite direction from usual. Then I switched them back when I put the gears back in the correct wheels.

I used this method today on my 5 yard sale reel mower and it worked! The only thing I found in the instructions that was not clear was that the pins have to be turned over so that the straight edges catch the gears correctly when you switch them back and forth between sides. The ends of the pins are curved on one side and squared on the other and this does matter. In my first attempt, I didn’t notice this detail (and although there is a picture in Step 4, it is not explained) and the blades would not turn at all. Then I disassembled the wheels again and noticed that the pins were not squared on all edges. that was my aha moment. I went on to complete the project and then mowed my lawn with great satisfaction.

Very useful instructable, Marc. Thank you!

Reviving this, because it certainly was helpful to me and only for the price of valve grinding compound!

Step 6:I would simply add: The screws that adjust the fixed blade towards the curved ones work in concert; you loosen one while tightening the other other.

Try to keep the same adjustments for both sides so that you keep your fixed blade parallel and grinding the curved blades evenly.

Fantastic instructions, thank you!

When you say make it so the blades are going in the wrong way, do you just flip the lawn mower over a push it?? Not sure.

You have to flip the gears to the opposit side so you can push it backwards.

My reel mower is older and the blade wheel can move forward of backward. So in theory do you agree I can just spin the pup backwards? I am not worried but for the life of me I see no difference. Thanks.

Hey this can be much easier I think. My 1940’s reel mower spins forward and spins backwards so QUESTION: Can I apply the compound and let her spin backwards? How many minutes is normal? Thanks.

I sharpened my recently restored Craftsman with the blade and gears swapped and tan it bacwards. You can actually feel tge blade moving more and mo r e freely. I purchased a reel mower sharpening kit with the grit in a jar. That old mower cuts grass like scissors now. Once it got sharpened i tightened it a bit more and added more grit to take off more uneven wear due to heavy rust for so many years. So I did this process twice. Switched tge gears and flipped the blade back around and replaced the tires and tried it out on Newspaper. It sliced the paper without ripping on evety area I tried. The mower cuts even thick patches of grass with ease.

Suzie, where did you purchase your sharpening grit in a jar.

Going to try this this evening as the closest reel mower sharpening place is 35 minutes away charges per blade. :(. Will let you know the results. 😉

Why would you want the lawn mower run back wards. I need to get my blades sharpen and I can’t do it. Also how can I cut the tall grass after you mow the grass.

Worked like a charm! The compound only cost 4 at the auto store and I can probably sharpen the blades 8 to 10 times with one tube of it.

Excellent instructable! Thank you

Let this guide on lawn mower blade sharpeners and how to choose them hone your knowledge of these edgy tools.

By Tom Scalisi | Updated Jun 29, 2022 8:12 AM

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Most folks enjoy a well-manicured lawn with its deep green and lush texture. However, keeping a lawn looking that good requires a reliable mower with a sharp blade. Cutting the grass with anything less will lead to frayed, dry grass blades and damage to the lawn.

But how can a DIY lawn-care expert keep their mower blades sharp? By using the best lawn mower blade sharpener, honing the edge to perfection. The following guide will explain all the need-to-know information about choosing the best lawn mower blade sharpeners as well as identify some top choices in the market.

  • BEST OVERALL:Sharpal Knife and Scissors Sharpener Tool Sharpener
  • RUNNER-UP:Smith’s 50603 Lawn Mower Blade Sharpener
  • BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:AccuSharp Garden Tool Sharpener
  • BEST FOR PROS:Oregon 88-025 Lawnmower Blade Sharpener Grinder
  • BEST ATTACHMENT:Work Sharp WSSAKO81112 Blade Grinder Attachment
  • BEST FOR GRINDER:All American Sharpener Model 5005 Gen 2
  • BEST MOTORIZED:Work Sharp Knife Tool Sharpener Mk.2
  • BEST FOR DRILLS:Ankda Double Layer Corundum Mower Blade Sharpener

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Lawn Mower Blade Sharpener

There’s more to keeping a sharp edge on a lawn mower blade than simply dragging it across a grinder. The following section will explain all the need-to-know information that shoppers must have in order to choose the best tool to sharpen lawn mower blades for their requirements.

Type and Speed

When it comes to lawn mower blade sharpeners, there are three basic kinds: those that work with grinders, those that work with drills, and manual options. The models that work with grinders typically attach to them and hold the blade in specific positions. Those that work with drills fit in the chuck and spin a grinder stone at high speed, with the user dragging them across the edge of the blade to revive it. Manual models typically require the user to drag the blade through the sharpener repeatedly to hone the edge.

In terms of speed, users need to consider how much time they wish to spend grinding a mower blade. The models that attach to grinders typically work quickly, as the user can grind more material faster than they can with other models. Those that attach to drills are still relatively fast, though they require constant movement and grind only a very small amount of the blade at a time. Manual models are often extremely slow, requiring 30 minutes or more to hone an edge.

Compatibility and Versatility

Lawn mower blades aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all proposition. For this reason, it’s important that DIYers find a sharpener that can handle a variety of mower blades. For example, models that can handle standard or medium-lift blades, low-lift blades, high-lifts blades, and mulching blades will handle most scenarios with ease. These sharpeners can match the curves or contours of the blade, resulting in a smooth, sharp edge.

Also, consider the sharpener’s versatility. Some mower blade sharpeners can also sharpen knives, scissors, axes, and other tools. On the other hand, some are only capable of sharpening mower blades. It may be worth shopping for a more versatile sharpener in order to keep all of the tools and blades around the house sharp.

Sharpener and Guide Material

Regardless of the type of lawn mower blade sharpener in question, these tools work by removing metal from the blade. To do so, the sharpener itself must be made of a material that is harder than tool steel. The two materials most commonly used for this task are carbide steel and corundum. Carbide steel works well in handheld sharpeners, whereas corundum is a better choice for grinders and drill-type sharpeners due to its ability to sharpen at high speeds. However, the best grinding wheel for sharpening lawn mower blades might contain a mixture of materials.

There are many options to choose from when it comes to guide material. Plastic, steel, and aluminum are all popular choices, and budget will typically determine the material each model features.

Keep in mind that some models come with changeable belts. These belts allow the user to choose the best grit for sharpening lawn mower blades, but also switch to fine grinding work for knives or chisels.

Ease of Use

A drill sharpener must be easy to use; otherwise the user will be more likely to purchase a new blade and leave the sharpener stashed in the garage. Sharpeners that are hard to set up, take a lot of practice to use, or simply take forever to achieve the sharp edge the user is looking for aren’t going to cut it.

Alternatively, look for sharpeners that set up easily or, better yet, don’t require any setup at all. The best tool for sharpening lawn mower blades will be easy to use and create consistent results, lessening the amount of time it takes to figure them out.


While lawn mower blade sharpeners aren’t creating razor-sharp blades, there is still some danger involved in blade sharpening. In fact, almost any time there is friction between two pieces of metal (in this case the blade and the sharpener), users should take care.

Users should always wear gloves and eye protection when using sharpeners of any kind. Hearing protection may also be necessary when using a grinder or a drill. When it comes to handheld manual sharpeners, users should keep their fingers behind or inside of the guard in order to protect their fingers.

Our Top Picks

That’s a lot of information about the best mower blade sharpening tool, and now it’s time to shop. The following are some of the top sharpeners on the market, so be sure to keep the above considerations in mind when comparing these tools.

Sharpal Knife and Scissors Sharpener Tool Sharpener

For those who don’t mind the manual process, this kit from Sharpal is worth a look. This package includes two sharpening tools: one for garden tools like mower blades, axes, and shovels, and one for knives and scissors. The tool sharpener features a carbide sharpening bar specifically designed for honing garden tools.

This kit isn’t just about versatility. The oversize hand guards on both sharpening tools allow users to keep their fingers clear of the blade while wearing gloves. Also, Sharpal tests its materials up to 10,000 times to ensure long-term usability. The only real downside is that manual sharpeners do take considerable time and effort to bring a blade from dull to sharp, though they can be excellent for a quick honing on blades that are still in good shape.

Product Specs

  • Type: Manual
  • Sharpening material: Carbide
  • Versatility: Garden tools, scissors, knives, lawn mower blades
  • Comes with 2 sharpening tools
  • Large finger guard for safety
  • Long-term testing should mean the sharpener won’t wear out

Get the Sharpal lawn mower blade sharpener kit on Amazon.

Smith’s 50603 Lawn Mower Blade Sharpener

Manual sharpening can be a pain, but with a tool specifically designed for lawn mower blades like this model from Smith’s, achieving ideal results can come about quickly. This handheld manual blade sharpener features a carbide bar and a preset angle with a guide, which are both ideal for mower blades. The design removes guesswork and makes honing quick and easy.

Unlike basic garden sharpeners, this model features a large, robust design with an oversize blade guard. This makes handling the tool with gloved hands easy while also keeping fingers clear of the blade. There is also a built-in wire brush meant for removing filings from the sharpener, making quick work of jams. Do keep in mind that this tool’s mower blade-specific design does prevent it from sharpening other tools effectively.

Product Specs

  • Mower-specific design for working quickly
  • Built-in brush for cleaning grinder
  • Oversize handle to protect hands

Get the Smith’s lawn mower blade sharpener on Amazon.

AccuSharp Garden Tool Sharpener

Folks who want to save money while covering most of their sharpening needs should check out AccuSharp’s Garden Tool Sharpener. This manual model features carbide sharpening bars at a preset angle, allowing users to sharpen everything from mower blades to shovels to knives with just one tool. Even better, that versatility comes at a low price point.

This blade sharpener features a simple, easy-to-use design that the user simply drags across the length of the blade. The oversize handguard keeps fingers and knuckles away from the blade. Just keep in mind that sharpening with a manual sharpener can take a while, so budget some time for honing those mower blades.

Product Specs

  • Works on a variety of bladed tools
  • Affordable price point
  • Simple, easy-to-use design

Get the AccuSharp lawn mower blade sharpener at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or Tractor Supply Co.

Oregon 88-025 Lawnmower Blade Sharpener Grinder

Those who’d like to sharpen their mower blades quickly, efficiently, and accurately should give the Oregon 88-025 Lawnmower Blade Sharpener Grinder a look. This all-in-one kit comes with the grinder and the bracketry necessary to set up repeatable grinding angles, allowing users to breeze through mower blade sharpening.

This tool comes with a ⅓-horsepower grinder that spins at 1,750 revolutions per minute. It also features an oversize stop button the user can find and hit quickly in the event of an emergency. While it is expensive compared to other sharpening tools, the precise, repeatable results and quick work may make it worth the investment.

Product Specs

  • Fast, repeatable results
  • Large safety switch for quick access
  • Includes bracketry for blade rest

Get the Oregon lawn mower blade sharpener on Amazon or at Northern Tool Equipment.

Work Sharp WSSAKO81112 Blade Grinder Attachment

Work Sharp’s popular sharpening tool can get even better with the Blade Grinder Attachment. This device attaches to the grinder motor in place of the standard bracket, allowing users to dial in the angle more precisely. This works for a wide variety of blades, from lawn mower blades to chisels to knives and more.

Instead of using a grinding wheel or bar, this kit comes with sanding or grinding belts in several different grits. The user can choose coarse grits for quickly restoring an edge and then move to finer grits for a more honed edge. The setup and belt changes are easy, but it will only work with a Work Sharp motorized sharpener.

Product Specs

  • Type: Grinder attachment (model specific)
  • Sharpening material: Unknown but comes with several grits
  • Versatility: Garden tools, knives, hand tools

Get the Work Sharp lawn mower blade sharpener attachment at Amazon, Northern Tool Equipment, or Work Sharp.

All American Sharpener Model 5005 Gen 2

All American Sharpener’s Model 5005 Gen 2 is worth a look for anyone who wants to put a precision edge on their mower blade in as little time as possible. This durable arm bolts directly to a workbench to provide a stable platform for the blade. The grinder then attaches to the arm at an angle chosen by the user. The arm guides the grinder back and forth across the blade’s edge, creating a precision-ground edge in very little time.

This kit adjusts to several angles between 15 and 45 degrees, allowing the user to choose between a razor-sharp edge that may dull sooner or a more utility-type edge that will last longer but not cut as smoothly. While it is easy to set up and use, it does require an angle grinder, and there is always the possibility of injury with those tools.

Product Specs

push, mower, sharpening, sharpen, reel
  • Type: Grinder attachment
  • Sharpening material: N/A
  • Versatility: Lawn mower blades only
  • Adjusts to 45 degrees
  • Attaches to traditional grinders and workbenches
  • Easy to set up and use for consistent results

Get the All American lawn mower blade sharpener on Amazon or All American Sharpener.

Work Sharp Knife Tool Sharpener Mk.2

If mixing speed and versatility is important, check out Work Sharp’s Mk.2 knife and tool sharpener. This electric motorized sharpener features a motor and pulley system with spinning grinding belts, allowing users to swap between grits quickly for different tools, such as lawn mower blades, knives, scissors, and other items.

The Mk.2 sharpener is equipped with guides at preset angles for use as a benchtop solution, but users can also hold it in hand, grinding across a mower blade or ax head clamped to a stable surface. This tool also has adjustable speeds for working quickly or slowing down for accuracy. Keep in mind that this tool isn’t specifically designed for mower blades, and the preset guides may not match all lawn mower blade types or profiles.

Product Specs

  • Type: Grinder (of sorts)
  • Sharpening material: Unknown, but comes with several grits
  • Versatility: Handles most sharpening needs
  • Can sharpen the majority of tools and knives
  • Easy to set up
  • Adjustable speeds for precision work

Fiskars Reel Mower Blade Maintenance Kit Sharpen Blades on Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mowers

Get the Work Sharp Mk.2 lawn mower blade sharpener on Amazon or at Tractor Supply Co.

Ankda Double Layer Corundum Mower Blade Sharpener

Spending longer than necessary sharpening lawn mower blades is a favorite activity of very few folks. For those who’d prefer to get the job done and out of the way, the Double Layer Corundum Lawn Mower Blade Sharpener might be just the ticket. This kit comes with three sets of grinding stones, each of which is preset at 40 degrees for a sharp but durable blade angle.

This kit is easy to set up and use. Simply tighten the grinder wheel’s shaft in the drill chuck, register the blue guide on the mower blade, activate the drill, and guide the stone across the mower blade. The preset angles allow for repeatable results; however, they’re only useful for lawn mowers.

Product Specs

  • Simple setup with repeatable results
  • Affordable price point
  • 3 sets of stones

Get the Ankda lawn mower blade sharpener on Amazon.

Our Verdict

For those who are looking to mix versatility and value, the Sharpal lawn mower blade sharpener is worth a look, tackling most sharpening tasks with one kit. However, for those looking for repeatable, fast, and accurate results, the All American lawn mower blade sharpener might be the answer.

How We Chose the Best Lawn Mower Blade Sharpeners

Choosing the best lawn mower blade sharpeners wasn’t an easy task. We had to draw upon all of our experience with lawn-care equipment and lawn mower maintenance in order to pick out the features we thought were most important to have in a blade sharpener, giving us a foundation to work from.

With those features in mind, we performed extensive product research in order to round up models we felt would hit our criteria. We then compared materials, types, and to ensure we were suggesting options that provided actual value. The models that failed this test were discarded, and those that passed were given awards based on their strengths.

Tips for Using Lawn Mower Blade Sharpeners

Lawn mower blades don’t need to be razor-sharp to be effective. In general, grinding a 35- to 45-degree angle on a lawn mower blade will result in a durable edge that is sharp enough to avoid damaging the grass. Finer angles can dull quickly, while steeper angles will struggle to cut effectively.

Users should be sure to wear gloves and eye protection whenever they’re grinding anything. Small metal shavings can become airborne and embed themselves, causing painful injuries.

Sometimes, speed is the enemy. Grinders that spin too quickly can create excessive heat in the lawn mower blade. Excessive heat may cause the blade to become brittle. Also, keep the blade (or grinder) moving to prevent heat buildup in one area.

  • Maintain an angle between 35 and 45 degrees.
  • Users should wear eye protection and gloves whenever they’re grinding.
  • Avoid heat buildup by controlling the grinder’s speed and keeping the blade moving.


Even with all that information on the best lawn mower blade sharpeners, there could still be some questions to chop away at. The following section includes some of the most frequently asked questions about these tools, so be sure to check for an answer to your question listed below.

Q. How do I know that my lawn mower blade requires sharpening?

Frayed or broken blades of grass are a good sign that the blade needs sharpening (they’re also the telltale sign of an inexperienced mower). Also, if the motor starts to bog down or struggle, it could be a sign that the blade isn’t cutting effectively.

Q. How often do I need to sharpen the lawn mower blades?

Generally speaking, sharpening blades once or twice a growing season will usually do the trick. That said, hitting rocks, logs, and other obstructions will dull a blade right away, so you may have to sharpen more frequently.

Q. Can I sharpen my lawn mower blades without taking them off?

Yes, some models can put a serviceable edge on a lawn mower blade without taking them off. Simply turn the mower on its side so that the carburetor is pointing upward and use the sharpener on the blade.

NOTE: Be sure to remove the spark plug wire to prevent an accidental start-up.

Q. Can a lawn mower blade be too sharp?

Blades that are honed to very fine angles can be too sharp. They’ll cut extremely well at first, but they will dull quickly and then damage the grass. Angles between 35 and 45 are typically best.

push, mower, sharpening, sharpen, reel