Lawnmowers have been keeping yards trim for several years. Over the years, they have become a piece of very important and essential garden equipment in every home and organization. Lawnmowers not only help you to keep your lawn clean, they also ensure that the job is done faster, and the effect lasts longer which makes everyone happy. However, the problem arises when your mower begins to vibrate beyond ordinary and trimming is not done efficiently. This may be caused by unbalanced lawnmower blades and it might be responsible for a lot of problems. While a lot of people don’t understand the importance of balancing their lawnmower blades, many don’t know how to do it. Which brings me to the question: how do I balance my lawnmower blades and why do I need to do it? This article focusses on answering frequently asked questions and giving you simple guidelines just so you can enjoy your lawnmower for a long time.
Being acquainted with how to balance your mower blade is very vital in attaining the fresh, clean and hygienic cut that makes your garden appears great. If your grass is tatty and shabby after mowing or if it turns out brown the following day, then, there are chances you have an unbalanced blade causing this destruction. The secret to completing a clean cut every time you run your lawnmower over the lawn is to have a balanced blade. In an ideal world, it is essential for you to balance the blade on your lawnmower twice in the course of the main cutting season. Over time because of continuous usage, the mower blade can also become blunt. If it is laid open to contact with twigs, stones or other debris, the blade can also become more damaged and dented. Cutting your lawn with an unbalanced blade, even at the slimmest cut, turns on the risk of you damaging your lawn instead of cutting it and this will affect the look of your garden which can, in turn, lead to permanent damage. Balancing your mower blade can simply be carried out at home by adhering to the advice outlined in this article.
Importance of Balancing Lawnmower Blades
A whole lot of people might not be aware of how an unbalanced lawnmower blade is capable of causing damage to their mowers simply because they do not understand the importance of a balanced mower blade. However, this is an important situation that should be handled with care. Balancing your lawnmower blades simply means making sure that the weight of the blade is evenly distributed from one side to the other. Usually, a mower blade is inclined at the center thereby leaving the two sides even in weight and in size. However, mower blades become unbalanced during the blade sharpening process. When you grind more metal off one side than the other side, the blade goes off balance and one side becomes heavier than the other.
Now when something that is capable of spinning over a thousand times per minute goes off balance, a big problem can occur. If you feel an awkward vibration when mowing, your mower blades are most likely unbalanced. If your lawn is not trimmed evenly, then the blades are most likely unbalanced. If mowing takes longer than usual, the blades are most likely unbalanced. Therefore, an unbalanced lawnmower blade can cause series of problems like snapping or loosening of internal structural bolts, leaving you with extra work to do or causing a significant amount of vibration which will, in turn, put stress on the blade shift, the spindle and in most cases, the engine.
In addition, the importance of balancing your lawnmower blades is not only about the quality of your trim or cut but is also about the wear and tear that it can cause on your mower. So if you want to enjoy your mower for a long time or you want to get more life out of it, keep the blades balanced.
How to Sharpen Your Lawnmower Blades
Sharpening your mower blades is as important as balancing it. A dull or blunt mower blade can give your grass a ragged tear and make your work look untidy. Therefore, for a clean-cut, your mower blade needs to be sharpened regularly. Here are some step by step tips on how to sharpen your lawnmower blades:
1. Assemble all your work equipment
To ensure maximum safety, you need your personal protective equipment as well as your work equipment. These include safety goggles, ear muffs (if you are using a grinding machine), Steel brush, Wrench to remove the blade, bench grinder or a sharpening tool of your choice, and a blade balancer.
2. Disconnect the spark plug
This is to prevent the motor from accidentally starting. Pull the spark plug wire from the spark plug and tape it back so that it does not fall back to make contact with the plug.
3. Tilt mower on its side
Tilt the mower onto its side so that the air filter and carburetor are up. This would help prevent gas and oil from dripping into the air filter.
4. Remove the blade
Between the blade and the deck, wedge a short 2×4 to clamp the blade. Loosen the nut with a wrench that has a long handle. Twist counterclockwise and remove the bolt and blade.
5. Remove dust and debris
With your steel brush, dust off the rust and debris on your blade. Inspect the blade carefully to determine if it requires replacing.
6. Sharpen blade
Using your file or grinder, sharpen the blade along the original angle of each cutting edge. Ensure that you maintain the original angle, file only in that direction and remove equal amounts of steel off each edge.
7. Mark the new blade
One mistake most lawn owners make is reinstalling a mower blade upside down after sharpening it. Once it is reinstalled upside down, the blade won’t cut. Spray the sharpened blade with spray paint before removing it. It will help you know the right way to reinstall it.
8. Check blade balance
Place that blade on a nail to check for the balance. If one section of the blade dips, file it off until the blades are even.
9. Reinstall the blade
Reinstall the blade on your lawnmower and screw in the bolt or nut. Insert the 2×4 in the reverse direction so that you can bear down on the breaker bar in order to tighten it. Make sure you tighten the bolt properly as a loose blade throws off the engine timing, making it hard to start the mower.
The sharpening of blades requires maximum concentration and skill. If you know that you won’t be watching what you are doing, get professional help to avoid accidents of any sort. Also in place of a nail, you can get a blade balancer for accurate results.
How Often Should I Sharpen My Lawnmower Blade?
This is another frequently asked question. Your lawnmower blade may begin to look dull or the grasses may get ragged with torn edges and this can promote the growth of fungi and other grass diseases. Don’t panic as this is most likely caused when the blades are not sharpened. For the best cut or trim, you should sharpen your lawnmower blades twice a month or at least, once a month. To diagnose a blunt blade, take a few minutes to inspect your grass after cutting. If it has torn edges and it looks ragged, then your blade is dull and needs sharpening.
How do I balance my lawnmower blade after sharpening?
If you sharpen your lawnmower blades by yourself, chances are you don’t sharpen them evenly. Uneven sharpening can cause a blade to be heavier on one side than the other which can, in turn, cause heavy vibration, loosening of some essential internal bolts and eventually accelerated wear and tear on the engine. The good news is that it can be quite simple to test for the balance of your blade and make necessary adjustments before reinstalling it. Below are some step by step procedures that can help you deal with damages:
1. Fasten blade over a nail head
Using a hammer, drive a large nail into a wall plank in your shed or garage. Then balance your lawn mower blade on the base of the nail by putting the hole in the center of the blade over the nail head.
2. Rotate the blade
Try turning the blade about a quarter to the right and watch it. If it stays in place, then it is balanced and you have nothing to worry about. However, if it rotates to where it started, then it’s a bad sign. Again, turn the blade halfway to the right. If it stays in place, the blade is well balanced but if it returns to where it started, then the blade is unbalanced and the part of the blade that keeps returning to the bottom is too heavy.
3. File the blade
After you have determined what section of the blade is heavy, remove the blade from the nail and clamp the blade to a workbench or a stable surface. Make sure you keep track of the part of the blade that is heavy. Using a smooth file, file down the edges of the heavy section of the blade. Try to maintain the normal angle of the blade edge as you file.
4. Check for balance
Take off the blade from the clamp and carefully brush it clean with a brush or your hand. Take it back to the joist and place it on the nail head. Turn the blade again and check to see if the same section keeps returning to the bottom.
5. Repeat procedure
If both sections are balanced, go ahead to reinstall your blade. If not, continue alternating between filing the blade and balancing it on the nail until the blade stays put on both sections. When you are sure that it is balanced, reinstall the blade on your lawnmower and enjoy. With the knowledge of how to sharpen your lawnmower blades coupled with balancing, you can look forward to seasons of a neatly mowed lawn.
What Are The Major Types of Lawnmower Blades and Which Is Best For My Mower?
Being able to identify different blade types is helpful to both lawn owners and land scrapers, as it would help you achieve your desired results. You need to be able to know the kind of mower blade that works perfectly for you and your lawn because selecting a wrong blade can affect the look of your lawn and might eventually cause damage to your mower.
Presently, lawnmower blades make use of several designs that provide a variety of lift and mulching options. The size, thickness, material, and design varies according to the manufacturer. Normally, a mower blade should be able to perform three primary functions which include mulching, discharging and bagging. While some type of blades is able to deliver all three tasks, others serve only one function.
Usually, a mower makes use of a blade that corresponds to the configuration of its holes and measurement. However, most mowers still have several options for blade types that are compatible. Here are some major types of lawnmower blades:
Low lift blades
This type of mower blade is recommended for mowing a lawn with sandy soil and dry shorter grasses. They are primarily designed for side discharge mowing. They have slightly curved ends that keep the flow of air to a minimum. The features include; low suction power with a less drastic swoop, making sure that the grass stays low in the area where it is more available to be ejected at the side of the mower, hence dust and debris levels are kept down.
Benefits of low lift blades:
- The curved ends of the blades keep the air pressure to a minimum, allowing the cut grasses to exit from the mower while maintaining minimum dust and debris level.
- Low lift blades do not strain the mower engines.
High lift blades
High lift blades are designed to have deeper curves on each end which provides a high level of suction that sends the grass clippings into a bagger. With the vertical swoop shape, the high lift air beneath the mower provides a high suction power blade. This suction makes bagging more efficient and reduces the chances of clogging up. It is primarily designed for wet and high grasses and requires a high horsepower engine. The benefit of high lift blades are:
- High lift blades provide high airflow to prevent clogging especially when mowing wet or tall grass.
- They also cut grass neatly before bagging and discharging them.
It is also known as a standard blade and is the most commonly used type of blade on lawnmowers with horizontal rotation. The edges of the blades are slightly curved to generate a continuous airflow as they rotate hence creating a suck and cut action.
Benefits of deck blades:
- They have an aerodynamic design and are straight which enables them to provide powerful lift which expels the grass clippings from the deck.
- They serve as a perfect option when mulching when your grass clippings are not feasible.
- Deck blades are able to work for longer periods which simply means you can do more jobs in less time. They are also a wise option when your lawns are not mowed regularly.
- They are easy to install and can fit into a lot of mower models, they are also durable.
This blade is also known as an all-purpose blade. It is designed to have a curved surface which allows it to work in three ways. The blade starts by pulling up the grass and cutting it, then the grass clippings are drawn inside the deck where they are further reduced to small pieces. Finally, the innermost curve of the blade produces pressurized air which forces the small clippings out. The design allows grasses to be chopped several times before they are bagged or discharged onto the lawn.
Benefits of mulching blades:
- Mulching blades are versatile because they can perform all three functions instead of one. They perform the function of mulching, bagging and discharging grass clippings back onto the lawn.
- The blades keep grass clippings inside the deck which enables them to reduce the clippings into tiny pieces. The longer curved surface allows you to achieve more cut in less time.
- Mulched grasses, when released into the soil, decomposes faster, releasing nutrients that would, in turn, help the growing grasses. Hence, mulching blades are environmentally friendly.
3-in-1 or gator blade
These blades combine the low, medium and high lifts technique into a single blade. The features include a serrated edge at both ends of the blade which enables an all-around cutting. They perform well in sandy terrains while providing you with that quality mulch you want.
Benefits of gator blades:
- Gator blades are made with a progressive geometry on the edges in order to increase appropriate airflow which facilitates side discharge and quality bagging. The edges remain sharp for a long time, increasing the period between sharpening and replacement.
- Unlike other blade types that push the grass down, the gator blade pushes the grass up. This is due to the raised teeth on the blades. These teeth also direct the grass towards the cutting edge resulting in a cleaner cut, finer grass clippings, and an even lawn.
On that note, there is no such thing as the best blades for your mower. All these blade types are designed to have their unique features and benefits, so when shopping for a mower blade, you would need to consider the one that is best suited for your mower and your lawn in order to achieve the best results.
How Can I Mow Like a Pro
It is safe to assume that most people are able to tell the difference between a lawn that was mowed by a professional mowing company and one that looks like it was chopped by some child who lives down the street. And you would be more happy to see that the beautifully mowed lawn is owned by you! Wondering how to mow like a professional? Here are few tips to follow in order to give your lawn that professionally mowed appearance.
- For grass that would be difficult to reach with your mower, proceed to trim them either with a manual trimmer or a powered one. Move around those trees, lampposts, fence, flowerbeds, walks, and drives as well as obstacles such as rocks and sprinkler heads. Trim around those areas that you know your mower cannot reach. Make sure you trim them to the height that you would mow your lawn. This would help you to achieve an even cut in the long run.
- Next, get a trash bag and do a little bit of a walk-around, picking any sticks, stones, and debris. This is to prevent being run over by the lawnmower leading to uneven mowing. Then mentally divide the lawn into three major sections.
- Now, start your lawnmower and make three complete turns around the perimeter of one of the sections of the lawn. This would allow the grass clippings to exit towards the center of your lawn, giving you enough room to turn your lawnmower around without missing patches of uncut grass.
- About half-way down one side of the section, turn so that you are facing the opposite side; with approximately equal amounts of lawn on your right and left.
- From the first section, pick a spot on the opposite side which is direct across the lawn. Now mow towards that spot and focus on it, ignoring the areas directly in front of your mower. This will help you remain on a straight line. Ideally, professional trimming and mowing are done in straight lines in order to achieve a good looking lawn. Pay attention to those obstacles that I mentioned earlier and don’t run over them just because you’re trying to maintain a straight line.
- After getting across the lawn in a straight line, carefully turn around and continue to move your mower in that straight line. Now turn around and see what you have done. You would see that the straight line varies from the remaining places. Complete one side of the section, and then repeat the pop process until your entire lawn is mowed.
- After you have finished mowing, take another look at spots like the walks and drives and the turn around spots. If during trimming you missed any of those areas or turn around spots, go back and mow them properly. What differentiates a professional job from an unprofessional one is the attention you pay to little details.
- Now that you are done mowing, take a broom or a leaf blower and push back onto the lawn those stray grass clippings that flew out during mowing. Clean off all those areas that are affected by your mower or anywhere else that has collected excess grass clippings.
While you may have your favorite mowing direction (such as a front to back, a side to side, a diagonal or a more unique direction), it is sometimes more effective to mow in a different direction so as to reduce the stress of turning around repeatedly on that particular spot.