Frugal Lawn Care: Sharpening Mower Blades

By Staff

This is a guest post from Kevin, who writes about how to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and build wealth at No Debt Plan.

When my wife and I purchased our first home a few years ago we needed a lawn mower for our small yard. I ended up buying an electric lawnmower that fit our needs.

Whether you use a traditional gas mower or an electric like me you will run into maintenance issues. With a traditional gas mower these include air filters, engine oil, topping off the gasoline, and mower blades.

Thankfully with an electric mower the maintenance issues are minimized. There is no oil. There is no gasoline. I need to look as I’m not sure if the thing even has an air filter (because there is no need for air to mix with gasoline in the engine).

However, we did run into one maintenance issue recently: mower blades. And that makes sense — all mowers have blades, right?


(Photo by somegeekintn)

Comparing Cost of Replacement Vs. Sharpening Mower Blades

Did you know you can have your lawn mower blades sharpened? A lawn mower blade is a piece of metal like a knife. Over time through continual use it becomes dull. Dull blades don’t cut grass as well as sharp blades. Cutting with a dull blade is also not great for your grass.

The cost of a new blade for my mower is $17 through Amazon. That’s not bad, and I actually plan to purchase a second blade. (More on that in a moment.)

I called around to a few lawn mower shops (Google: “lawn mower sharpen” and your city) and found a shop that would sharpen the blade for $8.

That’s an easy comparison: $17 for a new blade versus $8 for a “new” used blade. I could sharpen my current blade twice for every new blade I needed to buy.

Rotate Two Blades

As I mentioned above I plan to buy a second blade. At the end of the day having two blades makes life a lot easier than owning just one blade.

Take me, for example. I discovered my mower blade was quite dull the last time I mowed. I determined I needed it sharpened, but didn’t have a spare handy. This would seem like an easy fix: just go to the store and buy another blade, and get the original blade sharpened. Since I had purchased an electric mower online my properly sized replacement blades were only available online. (Just my luck.)

Having a second, sharp blade on hand makes life easy because you can take the old blade off and get it sharpened at your leisure. The new blade should last for quite a while giving you and I time to procrastinate on finding a sharpening shop while not sacrificing the quality of our mowing.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have this leisure and had to hurry to find a shop, get the blade off the mower, and have my wife take it down to the shop to get it sharpened. The sharpening took an hour and was back in our hands the same day.

Safety First When Changing Lawn Mower Blades

I can’t finish this article without clarifying some safety issues. As a general rule mowers are dangerous and have full capabilities to remove an unhealthy chunk of your body from you.

Safety first:

  • Disable your mower in as many ways as possible. With gasoline mowers make sure you disconnect the spark plug. With plug-in electric mowers make sure the mower is not plugged in. (For battery mower users, I can’t help you. No idea how they work.)
  • Blades are sharp. Be careful. Wear gloves or use a towel to hold the blade while you are loosening/tightening the socket that holds it in place. And make sure that when it comes loose that you haven’t been pushing too hard with your arm — you could push the blade into your hand as it comes loose.
  • Always use a proper sized and balanced blade. If your mower takes a 19″ blade, get a 19″ blade. If you get the blade sharpened make sure that it is still in balance. To do this just balance it on your finger or some other device to insure one side isn’t higher than the other — an unbalanced blade will shake the mower and generally isn’t a good thing to operate with.

You also have the option of sharpening the blades yourself with tool files. While I’m sure this is a relatively easy skill to learn I’d rather not deal with the hassle of doing it wrong or ending up with an unbalanced blade. The $8 spent is already a savings of $9 over the regular blade cost. That’s frugal enough for me.

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