When was the scythe invented?
The pestle or scythe tapping bench
Until the 19th century, the sickle was the most important device for harvesting the grain. The larger scythe, which could do more with one stroke than the small sickle, was known since the Middle Ages at the latest, but when harvesting the grain with the scythe more grains were lost from the ripe ears than with the gentler cut with the little sickle. In order to have fewer losses, the landlords preferred to harvest grain with a sickle until the 19th century.
However, the scythe has been used since the Middle Ages - especially when mowing grass, because it made work easier than the sickle. Mowing with the sickle meant more effort, but it no longer had to be worked in a stooped position . It was a must on every farm and today this device is still used in small farms. Meadows in the mountains are also often mowed over large areas with the scythe.
The scythe consists of the "leaf" and a wooden handle. There is a small handle on the handle near the center of gravity of the scythe. This is held with the left hand while mowing, while the right hand grips the scythe at the end of the handle. The blade of the scythe is made from welded steel, more rarely from cast steel and is between 80 and 110 cm long. In the middle, the width of the scythe blade is 45 to 60 cm and becomes narrower towards the tip - similar to a kitchen knife. Its cutting edge, on the other hand, is slightly curved, and the top is stiffened by a thicker edge. The longer the scythe blade, the more
Mowing is more arduous and laborious, because it mows larger quantities with one cut. The cutting edge of the scythe is not sharpened like a knife, but rather peened. To do this, the farmer needs a peening bench - also known as a scythe tapping bench
The Dengelbank is a wooden frame, similar to a low bench without a back, on which a small iron anvil is attached. A hammer is also required for pounding. This must not be too heavy and also not pointed. The list should be 2 - 3 cm wide. This hammer is used to carefully hammer the cutting edge of the scythe blade on the small anvil at the correct speed and with the same force, and the cutting surface is evenly thinned out by gradually tightening the blade. Once you have "pulled through" the scythe blade, the same work is repeated in reverse. And so often until the cutting edge is evenly thinned everywhere. This is checked by what is known as the “acid test”: the knife blade is pulled lightly over the fingernail of the thumb with the cutting edge. If it curls evenly in the process, it has passed the test. If not, they have to
wafer-thin areas are tapped. Dengeling is not done in minutes. It often takes half a day or more if the farmer wants to achieve a razor-sharp and even edge.
The pinning of the scythe leaf must be adapted to the grass. The finer the grass to be mowed, the thinner the cutting edge must be. If, for example, nettles are mowed with a wafer-thin cutting edge, the cutting edge folds over. Therefore, in such a case, the scythe blade must first be exchanged for a coarser one or re-gelled using a whetstone.
The scythe blade must also not be too thin for mowing the grain. A “rake” was attached to the scythe when mowing grain. This is a wooden frame made of light rods, mostly ash wood, or a simple wooden bracket over the scythe blade. As a result, the grain stalks do not fall individually on the ground, but can be picked up by the women when they are put down. Beginning of the 20th century. "Dengelhilfe" were invented. The scythe blade is placed between two irons, the upper part doing the work of the hammer and the lower part on which the scythe blade
rests on that of the anvil. The farmer sits down on the peening bench with his legs spread apart, just as he does when fishing Now he puts his right foot in a stirrup and moves the upper iron part by stepping up and down. Moving the stapes transfers the force from the “hammer” to the “anvil” in the form of pressure. In this case, the cutting edge is “pressed” evenly.
The device was a relief, but the scythe blade is not as fine and thin as it is by hand. Therefore, the greater part of the farmers stuck to the tried and tested pounding with a hammer. A scythe with a rake, the pestle bench and a pestle aid are clearly visible in the museum barn in Jänickendorf. Anyone who would like to find out more is very welcome here.
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