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All About Reel Lawn Mowers – Everything from Working to Sharpening

As a homeowner, maintaining and ensuring the health of your lawn is of utter importance. And reel mowing does the job with great ease and perfection. You are also being dispensed from the extra burden of uncertainty, fuss, and additional investments on any gas or electric motors to add a cherry on top. Here, we intend to provide you with an insight into what a reel mower is. It will also help you decipher why taking to reel mowing is considered one of the smartest decisions that you could ever make for yourself and your lawn.

What is a Reel Mower?

A reel or cylinder lawn mower is a simple human-powered device used to cut grass short, low, or even cylinder mowing. wheels turn as you push it forward, which powers the reel. It involves changing the overall process of trimming sod with a machine equipped with a series of knife blades fitted inside a cylinder. Vertical motion of blades is carved to aid in scissoring and shearing action for cutting blades of grass. Reel mowers are widely used to keep lawn manicured without creating clutter. In addition, they leave a clean burnish on the lawn, which is quite difficult to achieve with many gasoline-powered mowers.

Reel Mower vs Rotary Mower

Some of us want the best lawn, while some want a mediocre one. But you’d be surprised what quality of cut will do to a lawn. So let’s have a quick look into both mowers. The cutting mechanism is the major difference between a reel and a rotary mower.

First, it is a rotary mower used or owned by 99% of people in the good old USA. It has four wheels to help the base of the deck adjust the height of the cut. One can typically use these as mulching devices or one to bag their clippings. It is a glorified vacuum that holds grass upwards, chops it like a machete, and throws it in a bag. Rotary mowers work much better on taller grass with suction that it creates with blades growing around.

Reel mowers do not have any suction, and it is difficult to pick anything up, cut it off and mow taller grass with a reel mower. Sometimes, manual reel mowers get a bad name when people attempt to treat them like a traditional rotary. However, the device works quite conveniently if used more frequently. Unfortunately, it cuts only a small amount of grass blade. Henceforth, they aren’t recommended for grass more than 3.5 inches tall.

Benefits of a Reel Mower

If you want to trim your lawn as close to the ground as possible, a power reel mower might be the best option available to you. With typically built-in rollers, they are also capable of delivering pronounced and quality stripes on your lawn compared to most conventional lawnmowers. Apart from perpetuating lawn health, a reel mower has several added benefits. Let us have a deeper look into it.

  • It is lightly constructed, affordable, safe to use, and convenient to store.
  • It neither requires any gasoline, oil power, or exhaust nor does it cause any noise pollution. Therefore, the best thing is that it is ecologically sound too.
  • Besides helping you maintain a healthy lawn with a snip, a reel mower also helps its owner lose some calories while pushing on handlebars and applying force.
  • Constant hoof and march help a person stay fit and active throughout.
  • Another benefit to a cylinder lawnmower is that it can cut much lower and closer to ground and still deliver a nice, clean, and crisp cut.
  • It leaves all grass cuttings on the lawn, which helps in returning nitrogen to the ground.

To get the best powered reel mower for your yard, check out these top rated lawn mowers

How Do Reel Mowers Work?

This conventional device comes with a series of blades, a cutting bar in back that blades strike against to do cutting. The bar and blades need to be adjusted and sharpened, respectively. As blades wear down, the cutting bar needs to be brought up to stay in contact with blades by backing off tension on two back screws and tightening up two front ones. The control lever allows you to change the height setting of the lawnmower over grass. Once done, use a hose to wash off dead grass, some WD 40, and a cloth to dry it out.

How to Sharpen a Reel Lawn Mower Blade?

  1. Sharpening a reel mower with a file is immensely economical and gets done within a few easy steps.
  2. Assemble tools – a bench, brush, sandpaper, wood, and lubricant.
  3. Scrap the mower’s blades with help of coarse sandpaper.
  4. Place the handle of the mower on the tabletop.
  5. Restrict spinning of blades by stuffing something hard through them.
  6. Press a metal file on the chamfered edge of the mower’s blade. 
  7. Marshal file, so it lies at a consistent angle with the blade’s chamfered edge.
  8. After filling up, remove previous stuffing to turn it to access the vacant section of blade.
  9. Once the mower is secured, file this section too until a satisfactory sharpness has been reached.
  10. Repeat the process for all mower blades until they have been cleanly filed.
  11. Spray lubricant on the blade’s edges to steer clear of any rusting.

If you are using a valve grinding compound, use an acid brush to apply it. Remove the wheel from the mower and gear. Take and set the second wheel off the table’s edge and set the mower down on the cutting bar. Run and grind it backward for about 8-10 minutes.


Are reel mowers good?

Reel mowers are great for lower mowing heights. It is not so good for mowing tall grass. Though they are cheap, it includes a few maintaining costs for sharpening blades. However, they are quiet, safe to use, and good to give a clean cut for short grass.

Do reel mowers work on uneven ground?

Reel mowers works best on even ground. For uneven ground, it might take repeated mowing for even cutting. So, for bumpy lawns it is better to go for a rotary mower than a reel mower.


Nowadays, many people have realized that sometimes, advanced technology is not a better option. Instead, they opt for going organic, knowing how to keep their lawn in fine fettle and maintain thus. For such people, lawn care has become an integral part of their lives, and they seem to enjoy it. Sharpening reel-type lawn mowers is equally important as well. Different blades require different levels of sharpness and adjustment to accuracy. Whether you are a beginner or experienced, you’ll learn ways to have the best yard on the block without spending a lot of money.