Reel mowers (sometimes called push mowers) are more than just old fashioned and charming, they also are a great way to cut grass, especially in small, city lots or in yards where there is more garden than lawn. They also produce no air pollution and are whisper-quiet, and modern reel mowers are easier and more efficient than the push mower your grandpa used. Reel mower blades will have to be sharpened occasionally, and while many hardware stores will do this for a fee, you can save yourself a few bucks and sharpen the blades of your reel mower at home.
Make sure your reel mower blades actually need to be sharpened. Many times, if the mower isn't cutting as well as it used to, the blades merely need to be adjusted. Realigning the mower blades will get your mower working like new, without having to sharpen the blades.
Purchase a backlapping kit, available at hardware stores, home improvement stores, or garden centers. The kit should include sharpening powder, applicator brush and a crank handle.
Remove the mower's handle and lay the mower on its side.
Remove one wheel cover and the C-ring underneath. On most models, a large flat head screwdriver can be used to pop off the cover and C-ring. If this doesn't work, consult your mower's instruction manual.
Pull off the wheel and the gear which connects the wheel and the blades. Set the wheel and gear aside.
Insert the crank handle from the backlapping kit where the gear was attached.
Apply the sharpening powder to the blades using the applicator brush. Follow any specific instructions included with the backlapping kit.
Turn the blades backwards (away from the mowers cutting bar) using the crank handle. Depending on how dull the blades were, you will need to turn the handle 100 to 150 times. The handle may be difficult to turn, and it's fine to take a break or two if you need to.
Test the blades by holding strips of paper inside the mower and turning the blades the right way, toward the cutting blade. If the paper is cut cleanly, the blades are sharp, but if it is folded over or is torn raggedly, the blades need more sharpening.
Wipe off the mower blades with a rag (be careful not to nick your fingers) and reassemble the mower.