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Home, Lawn and Outdoor Power Equipment Tips and Tricks
June 13, 2022

HOW AND WHY TO AVOID DULL MOWER BLADES

Have you ever mowed your yard only to notice the tips of your grass turning white or brown a couple of days later? Maybe your mower has left whole clumps of grass in its wake. These are just a couple of telltale signs that your mower blades have gotten dull. If this surprises you, you’ll be even more startled to learn how dull blades can affect the health of your lawn long-term.

Thankfully, your trusty team at The ROP Shop is here to help. In this article, we share why it’s important to keep your blades sharp. We’ll also walk you through how to recognize when it’s time to sharpen your blades and how to get it done. Read on for the full scoop.

THE DANGER OF DULL BLADES

When you mow with dull blades, you’re shredding the grass rather than slicing it. This lengthens your lawn’s healing time after each cut. While your grass tries to recover, it’s more susceptible to pests, drought, and heat. If you keep cutting with dull blades, your lawn could eventually just give up.

This results in discolored spots where the grass has started to die, making your lawn look less like a lush carpet and more like a patchwork quilt. Avoid this headache and pay attention when you mow; you might already be seeing red flags and just not know it.

BLUNT BLADE WARNING SIGNS

Your lawnmower’s cutting edge should slice cleanly through each blade of grass, leaving an even cut and minimal damage. But if that cutting edge is blunt, it’ll tear the lawn. This results in shredded grass which turns white or brown at the tips. If your mower blade is dull enough, it can even yank whole clumps of sod out of your lawn, roots and all.

There’s also the chance that a mower blade could dull unevenly. When this happens, one side of your mower might seem to cut better than the other, leaving your lawn with an uneven, jagged finish.

But here’s the real kicker; mowing with a blunt blade can make you think there’s something wrong with your lawnmower. If your engine sounds like it’s struggling or if mowing is taking longer than it usually would, don’t schedule with a mechanic just yet. Check your blades first. You might just avoid a bunch of unnecessary troubleshooting.

CHECKING YOUR BLADES

If you’re seeing any of the above red flags, put mowing on pause and take a look under the deck. If you have a push mower, empty the gas tank or run your engine until the tank is dry, then disconnect the spark plug and tip it onto its side, keeping the carburetor and air filter pointing up.

Inspect the blade. If it looks bent or warped, or if the cutting edge is missing chunks, it’s time to replace it. But if it’s just a couple of minor nicks, you should be good to sharpen that bad boy up and save a few bucks.

MOWER BLADE SHARPENING TIPS

Once you’re ready to sharpen your blade, remove it and secure it in a vise. If you’re doing this the old-fashioned way, press your file firmly against the blade, matching the angle of the cutting edge, and sharpen it in a single direction on the angled edge only. Don’t drag the file back and forth, and don't sharpen both sides. After every ten strokes, test the blade with your hand.

If you’re using a drill-powered blade sharpener, place the grinder over the blade’s edge. The flat guide should be against the rear of the blade while the cutting edge slots into the bevel. This automatically calibrates to the correct sharpening angle, which is why these sharpeners are so darn handy. Using medium pressure, shift the grinder back and forth four to five times and test the blade with your hand.

Your freshly sharpened blade should feel about as sharp as a butterknife and shouldn’t break the skin. Any sharper and the blade will dull far more quickly, forcing you to sharpen and replace your blades more often.

When you re-install your freshly sharpened blade, make sure the angled side faces up toward your mower deck. If you install the blade upside down, it won't cut properly. Lastly, before tightening the blade down, make sure it's perfectly centered and balanced. Improperly balanced blades can cause severe vibrations which damage your machine.

STAY ALERT, STAY SHARP

Now that you know the dangers, warning signs, and ways to sharpen dull blades, you’re well-equipped to keep your lawn and your lawnmower in great shape.

But you never know what life’s going to throw your way. It’s always a good idea to keep a couple of spare blades on hand just in case. Check out our selection below. Stay prepared, Stay Rugged.

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