Tuesday, November 28, 2017


I made a snath for a new scythe blade that a friend gave me for my birthday.  I had planned on making it out of a solid piece of ash, but the tree I thought was an ash turned out to be an elm.  The wood was too far gone so I had to change plans.

The completed snath and blade.  I finished the wood in ordinary spar varnish.  There are actually 21 pieces of wood total!

I remembered a piece of clear Douglas Fir sitting in the basement rafters, so I decided to use that for the project.  I already had a good scythe that I liked, so I used it as a pattern.  The fir was cut to length and then ripped on the table saw thin enough to make the required bend.  I made a jig on the workbench, glued things up, and clampled the pieces together.  I think the main part of the snath was 6 pieces thick.

I began by making the straight piece, with a bend towards the bottom.  I used my workbench for the straight part, and clamped on a jig for the bend at the bottom.  It's a mild bend, less than 15 degrees.
For the lower handle I had to rip the pieces thinner, to make a sharper bend.  I did this in a separate lay-up.  I had to glue on extra small pieces to make the snath thicker in the area of the handles, and where the blade attaches.  I used attachment hardware from an english-style scythe.

I cleaned up the glue joints with a block plane, then went back to the workbench to jig up the lower handle.   I had to rip these pieces a bit thinner to get the bend I wanted.  The handle is glued onto the main part of the snath without any nails or screws.

The handles are some clear wood from the elm tree that I had hoped to make the snath out of originally.  I shaped the handles and then put a 7/8" diameter on the end.  The snath had 7/8" holes drilled in at the appropriate locations, and the handles were glued in place.  The entire snath is held together with ordinary carpenter's glue.

Here is what it looked like after a good shaping and sanding.  I think it is plenty strong but only time will tell.  It's a little fancy for something that is supposed to be workmanlike, but I enjoyed this project.  
Attachment hardware is from an ordinary English-style scythe that was rotting away in my collection.  The Tops blade from Scythe Supply was said to have a tang that works well with English-style scythes, and I only had to slightly touch it with a grinder to make it fit.  I like having this hardware since the Austrian-style clamp can slip so easily.

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