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To clean an embankment or cut grass, you do not always need a brushcutter. Sometimes a fake is enough. It is still necessary to know how to handle and maintain it.

Text and photos C. Petitjean

Practical advice

A rusty fake does not cut. To be effective, sand both sides of the blade with emery cloth. Wear thick leather gloves so you do not get hurt. You will avoid any oxidation by passing a cloth soaked in motor oil on the steel. Do not beat the scythe with a flat-broke carpenter's hammer. Use a mechanic's hammer with a slightly domed tip.

Used in France since the twelfth century to cut the grass, the fake replaces the sickle to harvest cereals from the sixteenth century. Disappeared with the arrival of the tractor (agricultural world) and the thermal brushcutter (individuals), it is bought today in the agricultural cooperative stores (Green Point...) and the DIY signs (Catena... ). Spotted in a barn, our tool requires only a slight restoration to resume service.

Description of the tool

The scythe consists of a tapered and curved blade (about 60 cm) fixed perpendicularly to a long wooden handle. The latter has two handles: one at mid-height and the other at the end opposite the blade. The original handle has been replaced here by a flat metal tube, bent to facilitate mowing.

● The blade is made of hardened steel. The rib outside is attached to the handle by the heel (a kind of metal butt). The curved portion of the blade ends with a sharp edge. Sharpening is done according to traditional methods.

Deposit the blade

The blade is connected to the handle by a bolt that crosses the cranked heel of the heel. This assembly is reinforced with a socket tightened by two hollow square head screws. To operate these screws: a male square key is made from a piece of hot-dipped concrete. The four sides are shaped with lime. To remove the blade, simply unscrew.

Beat the fake

The blade of a scythe does not sharpen by grinding the edge: it must be "beaten" with the hammer. Get an anvil plugged into a wooden stand. The cutting edge rests on the flat part and receives one or two hammer strokes. Slide the blade onto the anvil, then continue beating to tamp the metal, which becomes harder.

● Continue working steel with water-soaked thinning stone. Rub it several times following the length of the cutting edge and pressing lightly. After each use, sharpen the blade to improve the cut.

The reaper's gesture

The mowing technique requires an apprenticeship that was first introduced while looking at the old ones: the two arms swing at a regular rhythm, the blade is kept horizontal. The handle describes a circular arc that is accompanied by a torsion of the bust and a flexion of the legs. The heel of the tool shaves the ground: the tip of the blade should not be too raised, nor sting in the ground. Everyone to practice!

Blade, handle and socket

Blade, handle and socket

The scythe consists of a blade attached to the bottom of the handle by a butt. An angled wrench makes it possible to tighten the socket screws that join the blade and the handle via a socket equipped with a shell.

Reassemble the blade

Reassemble the blade

To raise the blade, screw a bolt into the hole of the butt, then into the handle. The tail of the stick has a nipple that is placed on the handle.Position the bushing previously slid on the handle. Place the shell between the handle and socket and tighten the two screws.

Fix and adjust the central handle

Fix and adjust the central handle

The central handle (split) is fixed on the handle by tightening. It is adjusted according to the length of the user's arm.

Beat the fake to thin the blade

Beat the fake to thin the blade

Beat the scythe by placing a portion of the blade on the anvil. Measured and repeated blows are carried with a hammer to thin the cutting edge. Move the blade as you go.

Choose the water stone

Choose the water stone

The water stone is chosen according to its grain, here 220 grains per cm2 (average texture). Carefully check the manufacturer's recommendations on the back of the package.

Sharpen the edge

Sharpen the edge

Sharpening continues by sharpening the edge with the water stone. Slide the stone up and down by lightly pressing. Pass several times on the blade wire.

Handle the fake

Handle the fake

A sharp well sharpened cuts well. Exercise the movement caused by the swinging of the arms. The fake describes an arch of great amplitude, the body follows smoothly.


Video Instruction: HOW TO FAKE TAN & TIPS FOR A PERFECT 7 DAY FAKE TANNING ROUTINE | Pia Muehlenbeck