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How to Sharpen Tiller Tine Blades

By Jane Smith ; Updated September 21, 2017

In general, tiller blades are not sharpened once the tiller leaves the factory. By the time they wear away enough to dull the edge, they are usually also scored, bent or rusted to the point that sharpening is not a possibility. However, if your blades are straight and haven't yet begun to rust, it is possible to sharpen them without destroying them.

Remove the spark plug wire before doing anything else with the tiller. This prevents accidental starts, which can cause severe or fatal injuries. To determine where your spark plug wire is located, consult your owner's manual. If you do not have one or have misplaced it, you may be able to find a free copy at ManualsOnline.com.

Raise the tiller to a comfortable work height by placing it on ramps, blocks or a workbench.

Grind the edge of each tine square and sharp using a 24-grit wheel on a right angle grinder. Measure each tine's angles and thickness with a ruler, calipers and protractor or other gauge to ensure that they are even with all the other tines.

Grind the tips of each tine to a sharp triangular edge on both sides. Check the angles on each tine tip to ensure that they are as equal as possible.

Lower the tiller to the ground. Replace the spark plug wire and test the freshly-sharpened blades to ensure that they are turning smoothly and digging into the ground effectively.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Owners' manual
  • Ramps, blocks or workbench
  • Right angle grinder with 24-grit wheel
  • Ruler, calipers and protractor

Tip

  • Sharpening the tines of the tiller may only provide a nominal difference in performance. Replace the tines as soon as you can afford to do so, once you finish your current tilling task. Because tiller tines are subjected to repeated stress at high speeds, they eventually become brittle or crack due to metal fatigue. According to EPI.com, who design and test precision machine parts, "It is important to realize that fatigue cycles are accumulative. Suppose a part...is removed and tested for cracks...no cracks are found. The fact that the part has passed the inspection only proves that there are no detectable cracks RIGHT NOW. It gives no indication at all as to how many cycles remain until a crack forms."

Warning

  • Do not try to grind away deep gouges in the tines. This will remove too much metal, weakening the blades and resulting in them snapping or breaking during use.

About the Author

 

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.