How to Adjust the Blades of a Reel Mower

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Reel mowers are a popular alternative to gas-powered rotary mowers, especially for those with small lawns. Ohio State University studies have shown that lawns cut with reel mowers are consistently healthier than those cut with rotary mowers. Adjusting the blades of a reel mower is necessary over the course of the season to make sure that your lawn is cut to the proper height at the proper time of year. A few basic tools and a few minutes of your time are all that is required.

Reel mowers cut grass with a scissor-like cutting action.
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Things You'll Need

  • Pliers or wrench
  • Tape measure
  • Lubricating oil
Step 1

Place the reel mower on a flat surface. Make sure that it is at a good working height where you can easily reach all of the parts of the cylinder.

Reel mowers require less maintenance than rotary mowers.
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Step 2

Loosen the wing nuts or bolts on the sides of the mowing cylinder, so that the rear roller, or rear wheels, depending on the configuration of your model, can be moved up and down freely. Lubrication may need to be added to accomplish this task if it has not been done for some time.

Wing nuts may be loosened by hand, but have tools available just in case.
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Step 3

Determine the cutting height at which you wish to set the mower. Use a tape measure and raise or lower the cylinder or wheels to the desired height.

Make sure that the cylinder or wheels are at the same height on both sides for an even cut.
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Step 4

Retighten the nuts or bolts back in place once you have obtained the proper blade height of your reel mower. Be careful not to overtighten or strip the threads.

Make the nuts snug enough that the cylinder will not loosen during operation.
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Step 5

Apply lubricating oil to the nuts, bolts and mowing cylinder at all points with moving parts. This will help to prevent rust, and allow for an easier adjustment the next time it is needed.

Lubricate moving parts on your reel mower as part of routine maintenance.
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Step 6

Test an area of your lawn to ensure that the desired height was obtained before mowing the entire lawn. Repeat steps above if readjustment is warranted.

Mow a "test" patch after adjustment to check for proper height.
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Tips & Warnings

  • Working around blades of any kind should be done with care and caution. Always know where your hands and the blades are in relation to each other at all times.

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