How to Sharpen a Manual Reel Mower

Getting started with sharpening a reel mower

Before you take the time and effort to sharpen, are you sure that it really needs to be sharpened at all?

95 percent of all issues can be solved by making sure the blades are properly adjusted. You can learn how to adjust the blades on a Scotts Classic / American Lawnmower / Great States reel mower on this page. (Look for the section about Adjusting The Blades.)

Step 1.

I am using a Scotts Classic as an example, but all of the mowers manufactured by American Lawnmower / Great States are sharpened more or less exactly the same way. If you don’t know if your mower was made by American Lawnmower or not, check

The first step is to take off the handle to get it out of your way, and then turn the mower on its side and pop off the side cover with a screwdriver. This will uncover the ring that holds the wheel onto the mower.

Step 2 to sharpen a push mower.

Pop off the C ring that holds the wheel in place. It’s pretty easy to slide it off with a big flathead screwdriver.

Step 3 to sharpen a manual mower.

Once you slide off the C ring, the wheel will come right off the mower. Take it off and set it aside.

Step 4 to sharpening a reel lawn mower.

Next, take off the gear that sits inside the wheel and allows the wheels to turn the blades. It just comes right off without any tools.

Step 5 to sharpening a reel lawnmower.

Next, take the crank that came with the sharpening kit, and slide it over the piece of metal where the gear was attached. This is going to allow you to turn the blades backwards, which is key to sharpening. You are sharpening it using the “backlapping method” when you use a sharpening kit. This is much safer than grinding the blades with a grinder, because you won’t accidentally overgrind and ruin the mower.

At the left is another photo that shows what it looks like when the crank is fully attached. It just slides on and doesn’t attach with a tool or anything like that.

Step 6 to sharpen.

Now you’ll take out the paint brush and plastic container of sharpening compound that also came with the sharpening kit. Open up the plastic container, and put some sharpening compound on the paint brush.

Step 7 to sharpen.

Apply the sharpening compound evenly onto all five blades on the reel. After you do this, you’ll be ready to start cranking the blade backwards and get going with the actual sharpening part.

Step 8 to sharpen.

Crank it! Turn those blades backwards and get to sharpening. If you get tired, take a break and get going again. You’ll want to sharpen until you can see a smooth metal edge on all of the blades.

Step 9 to sharpen.

What are you, some kind of quitter? Keep sharpening! It isn’t that hard.

Step 10 to sharpening a reel mower.

Are you sure you are finished? If so, take off the crank, put back on the gear, put the wheel back on, and pop the C ring back in place to hold the wheel on the mower again.

Step 11 to sharpen.

Take a break. Reflect on what a great handyman you are and consider the best way to brag to your friends about how you sharpened your own mower this weekend.

Sharpening a reel mower without turning the crank.

Don’t feel like cranking the blades backward yourself? Here’s an idea that a reader sent in:

“Just though I’d let you that if you have an electric drill, you can use a 16 or 17mm socket (don’t remember which, but it’s one of those and it has to be a deep socket) to back crank the reel. It saves a whole lot of sweat and time!”

Thanks, to Brandon B

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