Reel mowers are an economical and eco-friendly tool to maintain lawns. These mowers use no fuel and create ready-made material for mulch or compost from the grass clippings that remain on the lawn after mowing. Reel mowers are distinctive in that they only use two wheels and a cylinder of blades that rotate vertically instead of horizontally. Using a reel mower is similar to using a gas- or electric-powered mower, but there are a few significant differences in use and maintenance.
Check the height of the mower blades before using the mower. Adjust reel mower blades by moving the wheels and blades up or down on the handle; this raises or lowers the mower blades. Find the screws adjacent to the wheels in front of the blades and a set of bolts along the sides of the roller to the rear.
Use reel mowers the same way as a push mower. Push the mower in straight lines across the lawn. Start in one corner of the lawn and push forward with the mower. Reel mowers have the same agility as push mowers, but they cannot reach tight spaces. This is because the blade is mounted on the wheels, which extend beyond the sides of the mower. Move large objects, rocks or debris because this type of mower will catch the blades on these items. Mowing is easier when the grass is dry, because the mower blades will slide over wet grass, causing uneven cuts or simply not cut.
Avoid trying to mow if the blades stop rotating. When grass or foreign objects get caught in the blades, the blades will lock up, preventing motion until the object or grass is removed. Mowing on hard surfaces repeatedly can dull the blades as they strike the surface. Reel mowers can mow high grass and thick weeds, but need to move slowly; you may need to mow short distances to get an even cut. If the mower seems hard to push, back up to release the tension in the blades and try again. Watch for buildup around the area between the wheels and the blades; this can cause the wheels to seize up.
Wipe down reel mower blades after each use. Grass clippings left on the blades will cause dulling, similar to rotary mowers. Remove all grass in the catch basin at the front of the mower and around the rollers behind the blades. Wear protective gloves when working with the blades because of the sharpness of the blades. Use a coating of oil on the blades to keep them from rusting and getting coated with dirt. Tighten or loosen the blades as needed. Reel mower blades can work loose over time or become entangled and tighten up. Use the screws in the back of the blades to adjust them; counterclockwise rotation, or left turns, loosens the blades while clockwise rotations, or right turns, tightens them. Make very minor adjustments to the screws. And adjustment of 1/16 of a turn is a large amount.
Reel mowers should have their blades sharpened annually, or more, depending on the amount of mowing doner. Use a file or whet stone to sharpen the blades. Move the sharpening tool gently with the grain of the blade, the direction the metal flows, to sharpen it. These blades can become very sharp. Wear gloves to protect your hands against cuts from the blades. Use a professional lawn mower repair technicians if you don't have experience sharpening blades.