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best blade sharpener ?

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by speedy29, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. speedy29

    speedy29 LawnSite Member
    from mpls,mn
    Messages: 18

    I have 20 mowers running 4 days a week. We sharpen 60 blades daily to ensure the best cut possible. the question is What is the best equipment for sharpening that many blades and is easy to use? Icurrently use a sharpener from lesco and have seen many similar ones but I'm looking for a faster method thinking of a belt grinder
  2. Happy Frog

    Happy Frog LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,224

  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    In racing speed is essential, but folks misunderstand speed.
    Folks believe racing is about speed, but speed is merely the end result.
    It is the study of what leads up to this that can improve your own time.

    Generally speaking it's consistency, and repetition, not to mention standards.

    The best way to get a whole lot of work done is to do the same thing every single day, preferably with the same machine.
    This builds practice, which in time results in consistency.

    So if you have one guy doing it today and another guy does it tomorrow, forget it that is a waste of time.
    They'll never get proficient at it because this lacks repetition and thus fails to be consistent, not to mention the standard is missing. You want one guy doing this one thing every day, the other does that other thing and that is all he does, yes, for months on end.

    Hire yourself a full time mechanic who takes care of all of your machines, trucks, trailers, mowers, you name it, all of them. Blade sharpening is part of this, but I would make sure you have at least 9 blades per mower, and I have to assume all your mowers are identical or at least the blades are... So if all your blades are different it's not as fast as when everything is the same. That is, some type of standard is absolutely essential and if you're nowhere near close to universality then that would be my first step to avoid confusion.

    ALL the same dang machines, that is a must, and 20 more as backup would not hurt so workers simply bring the worn ones in and grab a fresh one, blam! Then your mechanic works on the pile of worn machines to replenish the lot of fresh ones.
    You know the drill: Gas, air filter pre-cleaner, grease gun, blades, check the oil and look it once over good, see ya later.

    If a machine presents problems in the field have your operators point this out to the mechanic, that's it.
  4. Breezmeister

    Breezmeister LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from South Jersey
    Messages: 1,739

    That would take me about 1 and a half to 2 hours to do with just a plain old bench grinder with an 8 inch wheel, more time if I had to balance all of them. Do a search for "blade grinders" and "sharping blades" you will get all the opinions you want on the best way to sharpen blades.
    ericg likes this.
  5. speedy29

    speedy29 LawnSite Member
    from mpls,mn
    Messages: 18

    topsites ,
    I've been sharpening blades for 20 years and yes we do all the things you mentioned. and if I can have my machanic save 1/2 hr a day that equals 55 hrs a year. I was just looking for some insite of possible better ways to sharpen blades and save some labor. I think I've setteled on a 2hp belt/disc grinder the belt is 9" wide so just one push towards to belt and its done. Also I disagree with your comment that it is a waste of time to have more than 1 guy do a job. What if hes on vacation, sick or dies, then no one can sharpen blades? The key is to have processes which make it easy for anyone to complete a job successfully. Look at mcdonalds they can take anyone and have them produce the same product at the same quality anywhere in the world.
  6. speedy29

    speedy29 LawnSite Member
    from mpls,mn
    Messages: 18

    top sites after looking at your bio I understand your view things change once youve got 40 employees and dont do it all yourself in your garage.
  7. Ironic

    Ironic LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 353

    I happen to be the type of guy that Topsites says you need.
    a mechanic that handles it all.
    we've got so many mowers that I've almost lost count. at least 10 Jacobsen 5111s (7 blades a piece), 8 JD 1445s, and 2 JD 1145s (3 blades a piece), 1 JD 1600 (another 7 blades), 1 Hustler Hillsider (3 blades), and about a dozen 44" Exmark Z-turns. and a couple little 21" Toro walkbehinds.
    starting again this spring, each and every one of those goes out and mows 5 days a week. for the most part, they get their blades changed once a week. sometimes more if they're doing "native grass" areas.
    my point is, I do lots and lots of blades. we had a blade machine from the last mechanic (3/4 hp motor with a 6" grinding wheel) and I thought it was a cumbersome P.O.crap. so all I do is chuck the blade up in a vice (blade is beneath the jaws, and sits at an angle) and then sharpen it with a 7" Dewalt grinder. It does take some practice to get consistent angles (I have a knack for it, but I gave up trying to teach any of my guys to do it) but it's fast. especially if a blade is really battered, it's the only way to go. and then I balance 'em with a magna-matic.
  8. Breezmeister

    Breezmeister LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from South Jersey
    Messages: 1,739

    I can understand that you would like to save a few bucks on labor. And I don't know what kind of guys you have or how they treat your equipment, but let me assume that they are good guys and take care of the equipment.
    Now, in the shop I work in we have a sharping service, so I get to see alot of blades every day. I have one guy that comes in that changes his blades everyday, 8 walk behinds, 24 blades every day. He could very easily go two days with out sharping. So have you thought about rotating to a every other day sharping or doing half one day and the rest the next ?
    honestly, do you think your customers would notice ?
    ericg likes this.
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Yeah and we can argue about the knowledge aspect but then I have 30 blades and I sharpen them when I feel like it and almost never does the actual time factor bug me... The doing it, yes that gets tedious, but never the labor hours.

    So 60 blades take you 1/2 an hour, if that bothers maybe your prices are too low.
    There's no magical mystery machine dump your blades in and it is done...
    Actually that's not true, there is, but I think it costs 40 thousand dollars.

    Because job switchy-swatchy also develops Jacks of all Trades (Masters of none), which is why McDonald's is a minimum wage job, and so long you pay your folks 6.50 or less an hour you should be fine but if you pay them more then you don't do things the way a minimum wage employer handles his. Because I used to work on an assembly line, and the most machines always got produced when everyone stuck to what they did best, and that's how you do it with folks who get paid better.

    As for the fastest, go twice over each blade on the front by going back-and-forth one time, then a quick zing over the back and it is done, takes about 15-20 seconds per blade and that is how each one gets sharpened end of story.

    But you didn't want this, you want some kind of magic trick fixes this woe is me situation, and that's not happening.
  10. smokediver

    smokediver LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    Man, can you feel the love in this thread....?
    I don't have nearly that many blades to sharpen, or near that often, but I would think 30 seconds per blade is great!! I personally use a 4" hand held grinder, lighter and faster, but it doesn't give the fine cutting edge a belt sander type sharpener would.

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