Scythe Vs Whipper Snipper or Brush Cutter

Discussion in 'Building DIY, Machinery & Tools' started by Mark, Mar 6, 2016.

  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    This discussion about using a scythe and how it compares to a whipper snipper or brushcutter came initially from @Jeff Keys post over here Whipper snipper cord thread where he gave a persuasive argument to ditch the power tools for the ancient scythe - it deserves a separate discussion.

    I think this topic is a very interesting one and personally I don't know much at all about scythes or how to use one so exploring the possibilities (pros and cons) and the best way to use a tool such as this will be helpful.

    I guess the first thing that comes to mind (for me) when considering a scythe vs whipper snipper is edging...

    I get how the scythe can cut fields of grass, crops, or weeds, etc but a whipper snipper with cord is hard to beat when used on fence lines, around garden beds, and buildings - any thoughts?
     
  2. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    I saw scythe's being demonstrated on River Cottage Australia last year. Very cool.
    I love the look of them. I tell you, is that the ultimate intruder intimidator! Someone breaks in looking for a TV to steal and they see the grim-reaper smiling at them with a terrifying scythe .... :smug:

    They look like some serious manual labour, how would a dodgy back go with one of these?

    Actually I was watching Better Homes and Gardens the other day and they were showing a massive flash garden in Canada (I think?) of many acres. I caught a peek of a gardener in the background trimming lawn edges with basically a pair of long scissors! You've probably seen them, they are long enough to stand up while using them and the blades are 90deg to the handles so you can cut horizontally. It's not the first time I've seen these used by professionals. And if they can maintain a massive public garden with them then maybe my little plot could be a contender.
    Along the same lines as Jeff's scythe where there's no fuel, no cord, no noise, very little to go wrong and back to basics!
    Food for thought.....
     
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  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Haha... yeah you bet :assassin::twothumbsup:

    ditto for me...
     
  4. Jeff Keys

    Jeff Keys Member Premium Member

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    I rarely have trouble getting paid and have been thinking of debt collection as horizontal integration of my business.

    I hear, "There goes the Grim Reaper," as I pass most building sites.

    A scythe mows according to the users capacity. Bad back, limited core strength, or disability, as long as you can hold it and swing it it'll mow. It just takes a little longer is all. One of my customers, a woman in her 80s and former scythe mower, snatched up one of my blades and set to mowing her front lawn no trouble. It's much like using a broom or rake except you're cutting as well as sweeping. It takes what effort you have. Swinging a whipper snipper doesn't come free of effort and strain.

    Anyways, I prefer the practice of scythe mowing and maintenance to the task of advocate and changing people's minds about the tool. I generally find men more reluctant to accept the new idea. 95% of my clients have been women. I don't understand completely why, but the fact a scythe is quiet, non-polluting and allows the animals in the grass to escape the blades seems to be a big factor. Perhaps women are also seem less enamored with machines?

    Racing a machine mower is just a stunt. Over such a short distance a scyther always wins. I'd prefer to persuade without the noise.

    Let me know if any of you would like a demonstration. www.manwithscythe.com
     
  5. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    So how about the edging question then since the main purpose of a whipper snipper (in domestic yards at least) is for edging rather than brush cutting or mowing? I'd imagine it's a little harder to swing a scythe along a shed wall to trim the grass growing up the brickwork.

    Or, would you recommend a different tool for that?
     
  6. Jeff Keys

    Jeff Keys Member Premium Member

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    A scythe can edge around plants, under fences and along walls. A shorter more precise stroke is used.

    I seem to remember taking the whipper snipper too close to a wire fence risked losing the whole length of cord if it got caught on the wire.

    As for scythes being "Ancient" they're still in use around the world today. In Qld they were commonplace in until the 1950.

    Yeah, I'm a scythe evangelist! ☺
     
  7. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Ok, so it's technique rather than a smaller scythe or different tool.

    :) nothing wrong with passion!
     
  8. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    well this sounds interesting, it could be good exercise?

    I was just looking at the scythes.com.au site, looks like a few options... sizes... models...left hand / right hand.... so now I'm confused which isn't hard to do. I'll have to read and watch some videos.
     
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  9. Flatland

    Flatland Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Back in the 70's when I and OH were young and idealist we buy a scythe to cope with fire reduction on our 10 acres. Yes you can do it. You probably could do it with a pair of nail scissors too, but wouldn't want to try. After about 3 years we changed over to a heavy duty brushcutter and had a lot of spare time to do other things.
     
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  10. Jeff Keys

    Jeff Keys Member Premium Member

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    Scything is a practical virtue. Chiefly, you learn how to mow without polluting. Such changes in behaviour are as challenging and significant as they can be exhausting.

    For me this ain't just youthful idealism (I'm a curmudgeonly 50 something like many Aussies of my gender), but a practical means of resolving the contradiction between my reasoned belief that I need to personally act to reduce my emissions and my behaviour of using tools which pollute.

    I continue to make progress in developing these capabilities. This week I gave gratis a well used and damaged Greenfield Piecemaker, Stihl mulcher, and associated noise making polluting paraphernalia to the local mower men for reuse. Now I use no petrol powered tools to maintain my quarter acre in Maleny.

    I grant within the confines of contemporary Australian mores (both social and economic) managing profitably a larger area using just the sweat of one would be a challenge. Buying a shiny new fuel burning machine to do any job is simple. Our world's set up this way, but if we're collectively to make the changes we must this is among what needs to change.

    Sure, it's a hard row to mow, but I'm convinced it's necessary. The facts are clear and state unequivocally that we can't continue to pollute and hope for a future free of consequence. To do so is to deny responsibility for our actions. To this end I encourage all efforts.

    www.manwithscythe.com
     
  11. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Yesterday arvo I wished I had a scythe!
    I couldn't get my usually fully compliant push mower to start nor would the brush cutter start.
    Obviously still too close to xmas new year holiday season for those types of equipment to get back to work! :p:D
     
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  12. Marshall

    Marshall Member Premium Member

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    Edging - scythe blades come to a point, so all you need to do is get the point between the grass and the wall, then slice. I'll post a video if you're interested. It's trickier than a line trimmer, but it's certainly doable.

    Using a scythe is a lifestyle choice like any other. But I'm on a 440 acre farm and there are plenty of jobs that a scythe is more suited to than a brushcutter, mower, or tractor-mounted slasher. I mow between the rows of a commercial raspberry patch with a scythe (takes me 18 minutes to mow a 100m x 3m row with a medium sized blade - a lot slower than the tractor, but also a lot less soil compaction and exhaust for me and my raspberry plants), prune the raspberry canes with a scythe, weed a blackcurrant patch with a scythe, mow under electric fences with a scythe, slash thistles with a scythe, and mow my lawn with a scythe.

    I am also one of two specialist scythe retailers in the country (do a search for 'Bladerunners scythes'), but I'll still be using them long after I've stopped selling them.

    You can see videos of the tool being used in a range of situations on the website above.
     
  13. Marshall

    Marshall Member Premium Member

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    I've just gone back to the original thread that started this conversation, to find what the context was.

    Given that this is a self-sufficiency forum, I don't really understand how the brush cutter/nylon line model even gets a look in. Are you guys making your own petrol? Nylon?

    The scythe has some specialised components as well, but nowhere near the complexity - in design or manufacture - as a motorised tool. As an example, a "scythe evangelist" travelled to India to promote the tool as appropriate technology for farmers over there. Their Minister for agriculture jumped on board very quickly, and as a result, right now everything except the blade is being made in India; handles, clamps to clamp the blade to the handles, grain cradles for grain harvesting, sharpening jigs, hammers, whetstones, and whetstone holders - all being made locally. The only thing that would prevent a blade being locally made, is the requisite skill (and we have a guy in SA trying his hand at making blades for us right now).

    Similarly, I was struck with the absurdity of flying rocks across the planet (from Slovakia) for our whetstones, and started making them myself - and they come highly recommended by people who've used lots of different whetstones.

    We also shipped a couple of rigs to Fiji late last year after being contacted by a guy who was working with their Ministry of Agriculture, to convince them that a scythe would be a much more appropriate technology for rice harvesting than what they were trialling at the time - fitting up a grain cradle to a brushcutter. One of the locals' first ever effort of mowing in on YouTube (video id is: GjC6w-QZajw)

    I personally think self-sufficiency in today's culture is a bit of a pipe dream ideal, and everyone has to draw a line in the sand somewhere. But I'd have thought that a brush-cutter would be well on the wrong side of that line for anyone seriously aspiring to live as simply and independently as possible.
     
  14. Flatland

    Flatland Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    If you wish to use a scythe instead of a whipper snipper go of it but to decide a whipper snipper can't get a lookin because this is a self sufficiency forum seems a bit twisted logic. Yes I can't build my own whipper snipper but neither can I build the mobile phone that I am using to connect to this forum & I hazard a guess that Marshall can't build his connection to this internet forum either. So I guess none of us are really "self sufficient" We all just make decisions about what we will build/grow ourselves & of the things we can't which we will buy by whatever means
     
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  15. Marshall

    Marshall Member Premium Member

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    Yes, as I said, we all draw a line in the sand somewhere. But if I could build an internet connection, I would, but telcos regulate against it. I can get my lawn mowed without using a machine, so I do.
     
  16. Flatland

    Flatland Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Totally agree that we all draw the line in many different places.
     
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  17. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I don't see your argument pitching scythe use as a requirement for true self-sufficiency as being very strong at all.

    Logically, it would be faster to maintain most acreages with cutting petrol driven machinery than a manual tool. I would bet my Toro with me sitting on it cold drink in the holder would beat you swinging a scythe any day :p
     
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