At Toro, we understand the importance of making sure your lawn mower is in tip-top shape in preparation for the upcoming mowing season. One of the top maintenance items for any rotary mower is to ensure blades are properly sharpened, balanced and in good working order. The following are some tips to consider, along with a video at .
Why Sharp Blades Matter
When shaving, think about the difference between the times you use a brand-new razor blade compared to when you are trying to get one last shave out of an old blade. When using an old blade, your skin is more prone to cuts, infection, and irritation. When using a brand-new blade, you get a nice, clean shave.
The same thing happens with your grass. If the blades are dull or nicked, it will smash the edge of the grass blade, leaving a torn end rather than a clean cut. This torn end will usually turn brown a few days after mowing and become more susceptible to pests and diseases. But if the blades are nice and sharp, the grass will get a clean cut, with greatly reduced damage and stress.
At the beginning of the mowing season (and after roughly 8-10 hours of service) do a thorough inspection of your mower’s blades. Signs of a dull blade include bends, nicks, and/or dents. You’ll want to ensure the blades are properly sharpened and balanced. In addition to the physical inspection of the blades, do a quick inspection of the lawn before you begin your mowing — clearing away any rocks, sticks, or other debris in the immediate area. As you mow, keep an eye out for these blade-nicking items.
Properly Sharpening Your Blades
Keep in mind these few basic tips for sharpening your blade:
- Wear protective gear, such as safety glasses and cut resistant gloves
- Disconnect the spark plugs
- Remove the blade (instructions are found in your owner’s manual)
- Use a metal file to smooth nicks or grinder to sharpen
- Work in one direction only; blades usually have an angle of 45 degrees
- Blades should be sharp like a scissors, not like a knife. A knife edge will get dull much faster.
- Consult your owner’s manual for procedures specific to your mower
- Depending on usage, replace your lawn mower’s blade(s) every 1-3 years. Always use genuine Toro blades designed for your specific mower. Universal blades may save you a couple dollars, but can create potential safety issues, such as thrown objects. Additional concerns can include the way they fit the mount and the type of steel they are made from. A lot goes into designing and manufacturing a Toro blade to make sure it performs well.
Properly Balancing Your Blades
Having properly balanced blades is every bit as important as blade sharpness. An unbalanced blade causes stress on the engine and cutting deck due to vibration.
After you sharpen the blade, test its balance with a blade-balancing tool. If you don’t have access to this specialized tool, you can hammer a nail partway into a wall in your garage and hang the blade from it (using the center hole). If the blade hangs horizontally, it is in balance. If one side drops, remove excess material from the side it leans to using a grinder. Material should only be removed from the end of the blade, in the sail area.
Your local Toro dealer can quickly sharpen and balance blades for you. If you would like to have service done professionally, you can find your local Toro dealer at
Bottom line: Using sharp blades will help you have a perfectly mowed lawn, every time.