A scythe is an agricultural hand tool for mowing grass or reaping crops. It has largely replaced by horse-drawn and then tractor machinery. The word scythe derives from Old English siðe, in Middle English and after it was usually spelt sithe or sythe. However, in the 15th century some began to use the sc- spelling as they thought the word was related to the Latin scindere. Nevertheless, the sithe spelling lingered and notably appears in Noah Websters dictionaries, a scythe consists of a shaft about 170 centimetres long called a snaith, snath, snathe or sned, traditionally made of wood but now sometimes metal. Simple snaiths are straight with offset handles, others have an S curve or are bent in three dimensions to place the handles in an ergonomic configuration but close to shaft. The snaith has either one or two handles at right angles to it, usually one near the upper end and always another roughly in the middle. The handles are usually adjustable to suit the user, a curved, steel blade between 60 to 90 centimetres ) long is mounted at the lower end at 90°, or less, to the snaith. The cutting edge of a blade is traditionally maintained by occasional peening followed by frequent honing. Peening requires some skill and is using a peening hammer. American style blades use a harder, more brittle, steel than European blades and are not usually peened, some examples have a laminated construction with a hard, brittle, core providing the edge and softer sides providing strength. The use of a scythe is traditionally called mowing, now often scything to distinguish it from machine mowing. The mower holds the top handle in the hand and the central one in the right, with the arms straight, the blade parallel and very close to the ground. The body is twisted to the right, the blade hooks the grass and is swung steadily to the left in a long arc ending in front of the mower. The mower takes a step forward and repeats the motion, proceeding with a steady rhythm. The correct technique has an action on the grass, cutting a narrow strip with each stroke, leaving a uniform stubble on the ground. The mower moves along the mowing-edge with the grass to the right. Each strip of ground mown by a scythe is called a swathe or swath, mowing may be done by a team of mowers, usually starting at the edges of a meadow then proceeding clockwise and finishing in the middle
A traditional wooden scythe.
A modern scythe of a pattern common in parts of Europe