Fix-It Chick: Save lawn, lawnmower by sharpening blade each year

A dull mower blade can wreak havoc on both your lawn and your mower. Mower blades should be sharpened or replaced at least once a year. Sharpening the blade at the start of the mowing season is a great habit to form.

Step 1: With the engine off, disconnect the mower’s spark plug wire by pulling the rubber cap up and off the top of the plug.

Step 2: Allow safe access to the underside of the mower by tipping the mower backward and weighing the handle down on the ground with a cinder block, tool box or some other appropriately heavy object. Tipping the mower on its side, rather than backwards, can cause gas and oil to spill into places they do not belong and may damage the engine. Despite what you may see and read elsewhere, do not tip the mower on its side.

Step 3: Stick a block of wood through the discharge chute and prop the wood against the blade to keep the mower blade from spinning.

Step 4: With a wrench or ratchet, loosen the bolt holding the blade in place by turning the bolt counterclockwise. Remember, lefty loosey, righty tighty.

Step 5: Use a flat bastard file to sharpen the blade. Place the blade in a vise and make smooth, even strokes along the cutting bevels of the blade with the file. Push the file across each edge at the same angle as the bevel. Use enough pressure to allow the file to bite into the metal. Lift the file between strokes. Be careful to keep the strokes equal on each side of the blade to maintain the blade’s balance.

Step 6: Use a cone- shaped blade balancer to confirm the blade is still balanced after it has been sharpened. Unbalanced blades will vibrate uncontrollably and eventually cause irreparable damage to the mower.

Step 7: For a more professional edge, take the blade to the local hardware store or tool shop. The blade and the mower will last longer and cut better if the blade is sharpened properly.

Step 8: Before replacing the sharpened blade, take a moment to scrape off any debris beneath the mower deck.

Step 9: Reverse the position of the wooden block and secure the blade back into place. Remove the block and lower the mower to the ground. Reattach the spark plug wire and let the mowing begin.

— Have a home improvement question for Fix-It Chick? Email it to Linda Cottin at