Just like a good quality chainsaw, the performance of your lawn mower will never be at its best if the blade is not regularly sharpened.
A dull blade on a lawn mower will mean that grass is ripped out rather than cut with precision, which will lead to root damage, poor regrowth, and a patchy and unpresentable lawn.
If you want to have the best experience with your lawn mower while ensuring that your lawn gets the best cut and looks great, then you’ll need to learn about one of the most basic and most important lawn mower maintenance tasks – how to sharpen lawn mower blades.
Is it Easy to Sharpen Lawn Mower Blades at Home?
There are literally hundreds of thousands of lawn mower owners that shy away from maintenance tasks.
Sharpening the blades can seem intimidating at first, but once you know the right technique and have some practice, you’ll find that it’s a relatively quick job and you’ll be able to save money on having a professional do the work.
Most importantly, a sharp blade allows for a better overall cut, which could save you fuel and will always make your lawns look better.
What do You Need for Sharpening Lawn Mower Blades?
Before you learn how to sharpen lawn mower blades at home, you’ll need to make sure that you have the right equipment.
There are a few different tools that you could use at home, including power tools as well as basic hand tools.
The results that get from both power and hand tools are indistinguishable, but using power tools can mean that you are able to get the work done faster and more efficiently.
Your first option would be to use a basic hand file, along with a workbench vise for securing the blade. This is a fully manual method and will take the most time out of any of the three methods that we look at today.
The second option is to use a specialized manual sharpening tool. One of these tools will set the blade at the ideal angle, so you’ll be able to get a more precise blade, even if you don’t have much experience with DIY work.
The third option will require a powered drill and a small attachment, but is the easiest method that will take the least amount of time.
How To Sharpen Lawn Mower Blades with a Manual File
If you don’t have a specialized sharpening tool or an angle grinder, then you’ll still be able to sharpen your mower blades with a manual file.
You’ll need a general purpose Mill Bastard File, such as the Stanley 21-106.
If you’re someone who only mows a small lawn and would only need to sharpen your blade once every mowing season, then going with the filing option will be the easiest method.
Start by securing your blade in a vise or in any suitable clamping device. When using a file, the blade should be positioned so that the flat middle section is in the center of the vise.
When you sharpen a mower blade, you should always follow the edge that is already on the blade, and don’t be tempted to sharpen any longer along the blade surface.
Some blades are sharpened for just a couple of inches along the edge of the blade, whereas some mulching blades will be sharpened along most of the edge.
Using smooth and forceful strokes, you can grind upwards and along the blade, being careful to maintain a consistent angle along the sharp surface.
File both ends of the blade until you have a consistent and sharp finish. For deep nicks in the blade (often caused by stones or hard tree roots), you’ll need to file for longer to remove more material.
- Always file in one smooth movement to avoid burrs or an uneven surface.
- If your blade is heavily damaged, you can file straight along the top to get a consistent edge, before sharpening it on an angle.
Sharpening a Lawn Mower Blade with a Special Sharpening Tool
Plenty of people find that filing is an effective and inexpensive way to keep a lawn mower blade sharp.
However, if you don’t have any experience with basic shop work, then you might find that it’s difficult to get a consistent blade angle when using the manual filing method.
In this case, you might want to choose a professional lawn mower blade sharpener, such as the Smith’s 50603 Mower Blade Sharpener.
This is a special tool that has been designed for easy sharpening, it makes sharpening safer, and it has a pre-set angle which means that you can get perfect results every time.
The Smith’s sharpener incorporates a tungsten carbide sharpening stone, with another piece that sets the perfect angle. All you’ll need to do is set your blade in a vise, mounting it using the flat center piece of the blade, and then pull the sharpener along the leading edge of the blade on each end (you’ll need to flip the blade in your vise to work on the other side).
In most cases you’ll be able to get professional results in just few pulls, depending on what kind of condition your blade is in.
With a device like this you don’t require any previous experience, and it’s completely safe, even for novices.
Although it costs a little more than a file, the time you save and the guaranteed results make it an excellent option.
The 50603 Mower Blade Sharpener also comes with a metal file brush for removing dirt, debris, and any excess materials after you have finished cleaning.
Power Sharpen Your Lawn Mower Blades With A Power Drill
If you already own a power drill, then there’s a quality attachment that you can use for sharpening a lawn mower blade.
The Oregon Lawn Mower Blade Sharpener has been made for 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch drills. It can be secured just like any other drill head, and it has a sharpening stone incorporated into the design so that you can quickly and efficiently sharpen your blades at home.
You’ll need to mount your blade in a vise or any similar grip, and again follow the existing angle on your blade to get a smooth, sharp, and professional result.
Because this option uses a powered rotary sharpener, it will be the quickest way to get your blade sharpened at home. However, if you don’t already own a power drill, then this could turn out to be the most expensive method.
What About Replacement Blades?
Sharpening lawn mower blades is an essential aspect of lawn mower maintenance, but there will be a time when a blade is beyond maintenance.
This can occur if the blade is bent, heavily damaged from impact with a rock or concrete, or if it has simply been sharpened to the point where too much material has been removed and the blade is no longer balanced.
Lawn mower blades are relatively inexpensive, and a new blade will be able to provide you with many years of use when you keep it sharpened and well maintained.
Oregon lawn mower blades are amongst the most popular, because they are of high quality and are used by some of the top manufacturers.
Oregon’s Gator Blades are made for mulching with a riding mower and create a high amount of air lift inside the cutting deck.
If you need Husqvarna lawn mower blades, or blades for any other walk-behind mower, then you’ll find no shortage of options on the market.
This Husqvarna 532421825 Premium Blade is suitable for 22” mowers.
It’s a standard straight edge blade for basic cuts. If you need a mulching blade for a 22” lawn mower, then check out the MaxPower 22” Universal Gold Metal Blade.
MaxPower is a trusted OEM manufacturer, and you’ll find their blades easily meet and often exceed the quality of factory fitted mower blades on Craftsman, John Deere, and other top name mowers.
A Sharp Blade Means a Healthier Lawn
If you want your mower to run efficiently, and if you want a lawn that is the envy of your neighborhood, then blade sharpening should be one of your regular maintenance tasks.
Any time that it’s taking longer to cut your grass, or if you find that grass blades are ripped and torn rather than cut with a sharp edge, then it is probably time to learn how to sharpen lawn mower blades.
Using either of the three methods that we’ve listed here, you’ll be able to keep your blade in top condition for many years to come, and you can always buy a universal replacement when your existing blade has reached end of life.
For a brand new mower with a quality blade that will last for years to come, make sure you check out our comprehensive lawn mower reviews.