Author Topic: David rebuilds a scythe  (Read 6040 times)

Offline David in MN

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David rebuilds a scythe
« on: April 17, 2016, 08:06:55 AM »
I inherited a scythe from the farm. Dad asked what I wanted from the sale and I told him something that would make me think of the farm. He brought me a rusted, rotted scythe. The very one I used as a boy. It was old and beat up. The metal rusted solid and the wood furry with mold.

The blade looked like this.. I didn't bother taking a photo of the wood.





And it sat in the corner of my shop waiting for me to get around to it. I got to it in the past two days. First, I worked off the metal parts using a can of Break Free and my socket set. Once they came off the wood crumbled a little so I epoxied it all back together. I scrubbed the mold and sanded the wood (outside) cleaning it up. Then I scrubbed all the metal parts in vinegar to clean the rust. Everything needed a scrubbing with a wire brush and #0000 steel wool.

Everything got linseed oil and then put back together. I'm pleased with the result.




Detail of the adjustable blade locking mechanism..




The back side..




One of the two handles..




So now I own a refurbished scythe. I don't know how old it is (dad guessed that my great grandfather bought it). There are no brand insignias and I know nothing about it. I'd love any information you guys have. Not to put myself down but it seems like Cedar and I.L.W. have forgotten more about farm tools than I ever knew. So throw me some thoughts. I'd love to know the brand and age.

The only other problem is what to do with it. Big Dave immediately wanted to mount it over the fireplace but the Mrs. isn't a fan and wants me to sell it. Not sure if I can.. Anyhow, it'll get a good coat of paste wax today and I'll be pondering its eventual position in the house. Not every guy owns an heirloom scythe.

Offline Carl

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Re: David rebuilds a scythe
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2016, 08:11:06 AM »
Great work,good looking bit of history.

nkawtg

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Re: David rebuilds a scythe
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2016, 08:18:04 AM »
You could buy a black cloak and walk around with it on Halloween... :)


Offline machinisttx

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Re: David rebuilds a scythe
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2016, 11:34:50 AM »
We have several of those around here, a couple were my great grandfather's. The couple I've picked up need new handles, either broken or too far gone to save.

If you soak the rusty parts in vinegar for a couple of days, the rust will sort of fall off, leaving bare clean metal. I do this frequently with rusty stuff from the scrapyard. Museums use Renaissance wax to preserve items. https://www.theruststore.com/Product.aspx?ProductId=235&CategoryId=0&gclid=Cj0KEQjw6My4BRD4ssKGvYvB-YsBEiQAJYd77c8Ywsjo1_VKYvEMwZKz_iW4A7P6ra7b3b5bf5RN_4MaAu5H8P8HAQ  No experience with that company, just a link I found via google.

Offline David in MN

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Re: David rebuilds a scythe
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2016, 06:20:55 AM »
We have several of those around here, a couple were my great grandfather's. The couple I've picked up need new handles, either broken or too far gone to save.

If you soak the rusty parts in vinegar for a couple of days, the rust will sort of fall off, leaving bare clean metal. I do this frequently with rusty stuff from the scrapyard. Museums use Renaissance wax to preserve items. https://www.theruststore.com/Product.aspx?ProductId=235&CategoryId=0&gclid=Cj0KEQjw6My4BRD4ssKGvYvB-YsBEiQAJYd77c8Ywsjo1_VKYvEMwZKz_iW4A7P6ra7b3b5bf5RN_4MaAu5H8P8HAQ  No experience with that company, just a link I found via google.

I've heard that prolonged soaking in vinegar leads to the metal pitting. That's why I go for a quick soak and scrub. Maybe I've heard wrong?

The wood is definitely a challenge. Although getting the rusted bolts loose was a hurdle, doing it without damaging the wood was really hard. And the part under the metal sleeve at the end was damaged bad. A real jigsaw puzzle to glue back together. But it turned out good.

Offline DWESmith

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Re: David rebuilds a scythe
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2016, 08:01:01 AM »
Instead of vinegar, I would use a firearm solvent/lubricant such as Breakfree CLP. I find for tools Breakfree CLP is better than WD-40 because it protects and prevents pitting rather than just clearing away the rust. Breakfree is also supposed to not be harsh on wood.  http://www.cabelas.com/product/Break-Free-Gun-Cleaners/709860.uts

Offline DWESmith

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Re: David rebuilds a scythe
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2016, 11:04:47 AM »
I'm probably talking about the same Breakfree as the original post.

Offline machinisttx

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Re: David rebuilds a scythe
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2016, 05:04:10 PM »
I've heard that prolonged soaking in vinegar leads to the metal pitting. That's why I go for a quick soak and scrub. Maybe I've heard wrong?

The wood is definitely a challenge. Although getting the rusted bolts loose was a hurdle, doing it without damaging the wood was really hard. And the part under the metal sleeve at the end was damaged bad. A real jigsaw puzzle to glue back together. But it turned out good.

Vinegar is an acid and if you leave it long enough, it will begin to eat the base metal. You also need to thoroughly rinse after taking it out of the vinegar, then protect with either oil or wax. I have seen no ill effects on steel from doing a vinegar soak, but I do check things at least once a day to scrub off the rust(stainless steel wire brush) that has come loose, but not dissolved or fallen off yet. Once all the rust is gone, I pull it out, rinse, and oil. I've got some really crusty tools to clean up, and they will probably have to soak several days. Soaking also seems to be somewhat temperature dependent, works slower when it's cool, which seems to be the forecast here for a few days.

I used a product called Evaporust(harbor freight and I think orielly's carry it) on some tools and such a while back. It absolutely will not harm the base metal, and rust literally falls off after soaking in it a while. The downside to it is the cost. It's around $23 a gallon and while it can be strained and reused, it eventually loses it's effectiveness. It gets pretty expensive if you need much of it. There are other similar products out there but I haven't used them so I can't comment on how well they work.

I've also used electrolysis and it works quite well. It does have it's quirks though. Museums use it to restore metal artifacts because if done correctly, it doesn't harm the base metal either. Super easy and cheap to set up and you can go as big or as small as you need.

PB blaster is about the best over the counter penetrant I've used other than Kroil. A 50/50 mix of acetone and ATF works as well or better than kroil. The acetone/ATF won't stay in suspension though, so it's best to only mix what you need at the time.

Offline machinisttx

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Re: David rebuilds a scythe
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2016, 05:15:49 PM »
Instead of vinegar, I would use a firearm solvent/lubricant such as Breakfree CLP. I find for tools Breakfree CLP is better than WD-40 because it protects and prevents pitting rather than just clearing away the rust. Breakfree is also supposed to not be harsh on wood.  http://www.cabelas.com/product/Break-Free-Gun-Cleaners/709860.uts

WD40's only two good uses(that I've found) are cutting fluid for aluminum and getting water out of a cracked distributor cap so you can drive to the parts store for a new one. It is a poor lubricant and dries to a gummy, sticky mess, leaving no protection at all.

Breakfree seems to work pretty well for lubricating and seems to protect pretty well too. It isn't much of a rust remover IME. This stuff puts everything else to shame though. http://www.bull-frog.com/products/

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: David rebuilds a scythe
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2016, 05:17:20 PM »
Nice work. Reminds me I've got an old plane from my grandfather to restore.

Offline David in MN

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Re: David rebuilds a scythe
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2016, 07:18:19 PM »
Vinegar is an acid and if you leave it long enough, it will begin to eat the base metal. You also need to thoroughly rinse after taking it out of the vinegar, then protect with either oil or wax. I have seen no ill effects on steel from doing a vinegar soak, but I do check things at least once a day to scrub off the rust(stainless steel wire brush) that has come loose, but not dissolved or fallen off yet. Once all the rust is gone, I pull it out, rinse, and oil. I've got some really crusty tools to clean up, and they will probably have to soak several days. Soaking also seems to be somewhat temperature dependent, works slower when it's cool, which seems to be the forecast here for a few days.

I used a product called Evaporust(harbor freight and I think orielly's carry it) on some tools and such a while back. It absolutely will not harm the base metal, and rust literally falls off after soaking in it a while. The downside to it is the cost. It's around $23 a gallon and while it can be strained and reused, it eventually loses it's effectiveness. It gets pretty expensive if you need much of it. There are other similar products out there but I haven't used them so I can't comment on how well they work.

I've also used electrolysis and it works quite well. It does have it's quirks though. Museums use it to restore metal artifacts because if done correctly, it doesn't harm the base metal either. Super easy and cheap to set up and you can go as big or as small as you need.

PB blaster is about the best over the counter penetrant I've used other than Kroil. A 50/50 mix of acetone and ATF works as well or better than kroil. The acetone/ATF won't stay in suspension though, so it's best to only mix what you need at the time.

Makes sense from what I've heard. I go light on the vinegar. Could always do more.

Nice work. Reminds me I've got an old plane from my grandfather to restore.

Yeah, I might not be done. Seems gramps collected draw knives. I might get to supplement the shop.

Offline Stwood

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Re: David rebuilds a scythe
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2016, 10:14:33 PM »
Sweet project.

Hang it on the mantle.... ;D