I like peening for all sorts of reasons but one of my favourite aspects is the amazing rhythms which are created by several people peening scythes together. The hammering comes in and out of sync in a way I find really exciting. At lunchtime today Chris commented that it reminds him of the music of Steve Reich. I’d never heard of it before but have been listening mesmerised while I blog. Here is Evelyn Glennie performing ‘Clapping Music’ which is really reminiscent of peening. Listen while you read about the workshop.
Another great group of folk made for a fun and interesting day for this year’s scythe peening course. I was especially pleased that Jim and Chris came up from Cambridge and Hampshire respectively for the course.
We began with a discussion of why peening is important and how to judge when your scythe is in need of peening. Then it was on to practicals with a look at getting the setup right and choosing tools, particularly this year with respect to peening hammers which I’ve been exploring during the summer. Most people were familiar with the jig but had struggled with this turning up the edge of the blade. It’s a common problem which is easy to solve so we were able to speed through that and get on to the real fun and intrigue of freehand peening with the anvil. In a beginner’s mowing course there isn’t enough time to teach all the ins and outs of peening (it’s a lot to fit into one day on it’s own) and there’s really only so much you can get from reading a book or even watching a video. There were several ‘eureka’ moments during the day when I explained something that suddenly clicked the pieces into place such as the benefits of a cut-down hammer and getting the lighting right. I was learning too, techniques for corrective treatment for curled-over edges and coping with scythe blade edges which had become very thick through years of not peening. We made great progress through the day and everyone’s technique improved a huge amount, ready to go away and put in the practice with the foundation of the techniques and knowledge.
We finished the day with some sharpening with whetstones. Once your peening is good this isn’t necessary but if you can still see light reflecting up off the scythe edge then it’s not sharp and some work with the whetstone is needed. That’s especially true with the jig but often forgotten or not mentioned when people demonstrate it’s use.
In all, a great day that passed in a flash, thanks to all who made it happen.