How to Sharpen a Reel Mower Step-by-Step Guide

By Desmond J.

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Reel lawn mowers are ideal for small lawns.  They are environmentally and budget-friendly. Moreover, it doesn’t emit any fumes or noise. It also helps maintain a healthy lawn. Instead of other mowers rotating blades that chew up and whack off the top of the grass, the reel mowers blades act like a pair of scissors that cut off the top of the grass efficiently.

How Often Should You Sharpen Reel Mower Blades?

It depends on lots of factors, like in the mowing time when the blades meet with small stones, rocks, and any kind of hard obstacles it loses the blade’s sharpness. But generally, Mowerslab experts recommend every 20-25 hours of usage take an interval and sharpen the blades. But some people do it once or twice a year. Conversely, if you use a reel mower in a commercial location, we recommend sharpening mower blades once a week for optimal performance.

Working with dull blades will damage the grassroots. And make your lawn brown instead of green. To maintain a healthy lawn you have to do it. 

Well, don’t worry.

In this article, we will provide you a step-by-step guide on how to sharpen your reel mower blades within an hour.

However, before sharpening reel mower blades we required some tools that will save time, effort and make your work much easier than ever. 

Tools we required,

  • A file
  • A hand gloves
  • Protective eyeglasses
  • A regular sharpening kit.
  • A back lapping sharpening kit.
  • Use of power drill with a sharpening attachment.
  • Use of metal finishing sandpaper. 
  • A range

How To Sharpen Push Reel Mower?

There are two crucial parts of reel mowers. 

  1. The blades
  2. Bed knife

The rest of the machine exists to support those two main parts. Wheels drive a gear that spins the 5-7 blades and the blades angle snip the grass better. Also, there is a roller behind the bed knife that allows adjusting the cutting height.

Well before sharpening the blades, we have to take some safety precautions

  1. Wear hand gloves, protective eyeglasses to protect your hand and eye.
  2. Wear tight-fitting clothes; no jewelry. Loose-fitting clothes and jewelry tend to get hooked on the machine parts and thereby leading to avoid accidents.
  3. Don’t sharpen the blades if you’re tired or on drugs
  4. Wear landscaping boots and jeans pant that will help to protect your feet and legs from the object that may fall or be thrown
  5. Wear a face shield to protect your face from any kind of tiny metal particles, sanding stone, and others.

All these gears protect you from accidents while shaping your mower blades. 

Our main goal is to make your reel lawn mower blades like a bread knife.

So, we don’t want to waste your precious time. Let’s get into the definite reel mower blades sharpening guide.  

How To Sharpen A Reel Mower With A File

A mill file is an ideal tool for sharpening reel mower blades. However, many hardware stores will carry special mill files that are specially designed for sharpening a reel mower blade.

Well, here we mention the 5 steps to sharpen reel mower blades with a file. 

  1. Secure the blades

Lay the mower handle down a flat surface or a workbench or table and use a broom handle to ensure that you blocked the reel and bales won’t spin while you’re busy sharpening the blades.

  1. Clean the mower blades

Use a stiff wire brush or some coarse sandpaper to carefully remove the debris from the blades.

  1. Scrape The File On The Blade Between

Press carefully to the toothed end of the metal mill on the dull edge of the first blades. Now use the file to scratch the edge of the blades, and always ensure that you go forward and backward throughout the length of the blades. And also don’t try to make the new cutting angles.

You’re just trying to remove one or two millimeters from the dull cutting angle.

Do it several times. It fully depends on the blade’s conditions. But we recommend at least up to seven times. 

  1. Repeat previous steps for all blades

Once you have sharp the edge of the blade, now you will need to remove the broom handle and carefully rotate the mower cylinder to fully access the next blade. Then re-secure blades and repeat the sharpening process for all the dull blades.

  1. Use Grease and Lubricate to Protect Blades After Sharpening

When you’re done sharpening all the blades, apply great to avoid rusting of the metal blades. On the other hand, Spray (light) some penetrating lubricant like WD40 on all the moving parts.

Also, MowersLab experts recommend you should coat the blades with penetrating WD40 lubricant or a little bit of linseed oil soaked into the clean paper towel. 

Now we are taking a detailed look at how to use a sharpening kit to sharpen the reel mower blades.

Let’s get started.

How To Sharpen Reel Mowers Blades Using A Sharpening Compound

In 2021 there are some mower manufacturers offering some special sharpening kits to sharpen the reel mower blades. Generally, they provide “Back Lapping”. 

It’s yet another easy and efficient way to sharpen dull mower blades. It comes with a handle and a sharpening compound. The sharpening compounds are applying on the cutting edge.

Now we use a handle or lapping tool to turn the reel mower driving gears. For the razor sharpness, you have to move the blades in one direction for 3 to 4 passes.

In our experience, it’s not working as well as the file. And also takes more time and effort.

But the advantage of using the back strapping and sharpening compound method, it cuts the blade angles equally so that you don’t worry about matching the bevel angle of the bales.

How to Adjust The Blade Alignment Of My Reel Mower?

Properly adjusted blade alignment ensures a clean and efficient cut without any training. However, it won’t damage any grassroots and helps to maintain the green lawn.

Now we know how to sharpen the blades. Adjust the blade’s alignment is the major part of this definitive guide. Follow these 4 steps and adjust the blade alignment.

Step – 1: Lay down the mower handlebar on the workbench for easy access to the reel and chock the two wheels with small wood blocks to prevent them from moving and turning the cutting cylinder. 

Step – 2: Spin the reel with your hand several times to determine the type of adjustment required. If you do not hear any kind of metal scraping sound, everything is fine. But if you hear metal scraping sounds, find the position and adjust the blades aways from the horizontal cutting bar. Now, If the blades spin freely, move it closer to the reel cylinder.

Step – 3:  If you think they are not in the right position, take a screwdriver and tighten the blades and make it right positioned.  Also, if you need to bring the blades closer, simply tighten the screws.

Step – 4: Spin the blades again to determine if any further adjustments are needed. Check and turn the adjustment screw a little at a time until you achieve the proper position.


You shouldn’t hire a professional or go to a service center to sharpen a reel mower. You can do it by yourself with these simple steps. 

Easy job. 


Honestly, reel mowers are really handy gardening tools to maintain a healthy lawn. 

We are at the end of this article.

Hopefully to say you enjoy our reel mower sharpening definitive guide. And also if you have questions or confusion feel free to drop your comments.

Our experts are ready to help you.

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Written By
Desmond J.
I'm a lawn mowing expert and gardening enthusiast. I started my own lawn care business in college and have been doing it ever since. I love taking care of lawns and gardens, and I'm always looking for new ways to improve my skills. I'm also a big fan of composting and using natural fertilizers.

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