How To Cut Long Grass By Hand

This article is titled how to cut long grass by hand. It is an unusual title because in these modern times, people usually use engine-driven equipment for labor-intensive tasks. If you have long grass and by long I mean more than a foot long, there are a couple of hand tools you can use if your reel mower is no longer capable.

How to cut long grass by hand

Hand Sickle

The first of these tools is a hand hook, grass hook, or sickle. The benefit of using this tool is that it is made to be used with one hand. It is very easy to transport it is light and easy to store is typically used for harvesting small patches of grass or green to feed livestock a hand Hook cheapest of the three tools a look at.


Another tool you could use is a billhook. A billhook could be used to cut grass although it’s main use is for chopping main branches and twigs from bushes growing along hedgerows. It is much heavier than a hand hook and the blade is much more substantial. There are long-handled and short-handled versions of the bill hook with the more modern versions preferring to use a longer handle or shaft.

Grass Scythe

The third tool we will look at is the most used tool for cutting long grass by hand -the scythe. The scythe is a two-handed agricultural hand tool used for cutting grass or reaping crops.

The word scythe is derived from old English sioe and has been thought to have been around since 500 BC.

The scythe consists of a wooden or aluminum handle or shaft which is around 6 ft in length and this shaft can be straight or have an S curve. This wooden shaft known as the Snaith has two short handles at right angles to it for the user to hold.

A wooden handled scythe and rake sitting on a basket of freshly cut lucerne.
A wooden handled scythe and rake sitting on a basket of freshly cut lucerne.

The handles are adjustable to suit the user. The size of the steel blade is from 2 to 4 ft long. The blade normally has a curve going from a width of about 3 to 4 inches next to the Snaith to a sharp point at the end of the blade.

Using a scythe is a skilled task with beginners starting off with a shorter blade of around 2 ft and the more experienced using a longer 3 to 4 feet blade. The main issue of inexperienced workers is that they try to take too large a strip or swath, which results in the blade sticking and tiring out the user prematurely.

How to sharpen a scythe

When sharpening a scythe blade you should use a sharpening stone regularly (every 30 minutes/ or when you stop for a rest) and sharpen each side of the blade from the Snaith to the tip of each side of the blade.

Scythes usually have their blade coming from the left side of the Snaith although they can be made with the blade coming from the right side of the Snaith.

How to use a scythe

In normal operation, the person using the scythe holds the top handle in their left hand and the lower handle in their right keeping their arms straight as they twist their body at the waist moving from right at the beginning of the stroke to finishing at the left at the end of the cut.

  • The uncut area should always be to the right and the blade movement from right to left.
  • The freshly mown crop or grass will be left in a neat row to the person’s left and the uncut crop will still be standing to their right.
  • The blade of the scythe should be kept close to the ground and remain parallel at all times.
  • A sharpening stone is usually kept with the person using the scythe and they should sharpen the blade every half an hour or when they rest.
  • The scythe is the most economical way to cut long grass by hand.