How to Sharpen Manual Lawn Mower Blades


Manual lawn mowers, also known as reel mowers, require the user to provide the power. They have the ability to cut the grass closer to the ground than rotary mowers. They are frequently used on lawns that require shorter mowing like Bermuda grass, but can be adjusted to cut taller lawns. If regular rotary mowers are used to cut grass very short, they may scalp and rip the grass out of the ground. Although reel mowers stay sharper longer than regular mowers because they have many more cutting blades, they eventually dull out. Sharpening the blades of a reel mower is an easy task that can be completed in less than an hour.

Step 1

Move your reel mower to a well-lit space. A garage or workshop is a good location to sharpen the blades.

Step 2

Lay the mower on its side and examine the wheel. Look for a plastic cover on the side and pry it off with a flat-head screwdriver. Each wheel has a plastic cover, so it does not matter on which side you turn the lawn mower.

Step 3

Remove the C clip that holds the wheel onto the shaft by prying it off gently with your screwdriver.

Step 4

Pull off the wheel and the gear that's below it. The gear spins the reel when the wheel turns.

Step 5

Push the crank that came with your reel mower sharpening kit over the shaft that the gear was on.

Step 6

Dip the paint brush that came with the sharpening kit into the sharpening compound and gently paint it over each blade on the reel.

Step 7

Grasp the crank and turn it so your reel spins backward. Keep turning until you see smooth, shiny metal edges. This likely will take several minutes. This method is called backlapping. The edges of the blades rub against the bed knife as you turn the crank. The sharpening compound allows a sharp edge to slowly form on each blade from the friction. This works better than grinding or filing because you won't accidentally remove too much of the blade.

Step 8

Remove the crank, put the gear back on the shaft, and put the wheel back on. Push the C ring back on the shaft to hold the wheel in place. Snap the plastic cover back on.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves when handling the reel. The blades have very sharp edges and can cause serious cuts. Refrain from using other methods to sharpen the blades. If too much metal is removed, the blades won't make contact with the bed knife and will not cut the grass. Also, if the angle of the blade isn't just right, it will not cut the grass. Backlapping ensures the blade is sharpened just the right amount and at just the right angle.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Reel mower sharpening kit


  • Reel Mowers: How to Sharpen a Manual Reel Mower
Keywords: manual lawnmower blades, reel mower, sharpen reel mower, sharpening compound, mower sharpening kit

About this Author

Robin Gonyo has been writing for several years now. She has a deep love for gardening and has spent a vast amount of time researching that subject. Previously she has written for private clients before joining Demand Studios. She hopes to share her knowledge with others through her writing.