Scythe-blades have been made in Austria since the middle ages. The factory at Rossleithen, where Schröckenfux blades are made, has been operating for over 500 years. Schröckenfux blades are hand-forged and wafer thin, with an elegant curve in all three dimensions. This means that they are easier to sharpen, ensure a better cut and don't dig into the ground. Austrian blades are very light - this in turn means that the snath (handle) can be lighter. The blades are easy to fix to the snath.
- 45cm Clearing Blade - This blade is very robust. It is a thick, heavy duty blade, 60mm wide, and about the same gauge tool as a light billhook. It is capable of cutting most woody plants up to half an inch in diameter, or bigger, depending on the species; but it is not recommended for grass. Typically used to work in areas where there are small saplings, fruit tree or thorn suckers, or weeds with woody stems. Care must be taken to keep the blade sharp, since heavy use of a blunt blade on tough material could damage the snath, or bend the blade.
- 60cm Mowing Blade - These are a standard pattern of general purpose grass blades used throughout Austria and neighbouring countries. Besides grass, they will also cut bracken, nettles, soft brambles, and most other annual growth before it has gone to seed. They are 50 millimetres wide and are hand-forged. The tip is quite elevated and so the blade is good for bumpy ground. Provides good reach. Will peen easily and holds a keen edge.
- 70cm Mowing Blade - As above but longer blade
The high performance of an Austrian blade is primarily due to its lightness and finesse; but this means that the blade is vulnerable to damage if used recklessly. Usually this damage — nicks,cracks and tears in the blade — can be repaired; but it can be avoided through good practice, which comes with experience.
Here are some tips:
- Keep the blade sharp, otherwise you will find you have to hack at the vegetation with unnecessary force; however do not peen the blade super-fine if you are planning to mow very coarse material.
- If you wish to tackle a particularly thick or tough plant that presents a challenge for the blade, cut it with an upward motion so that the incision is at an angle, and not perpendicular to the stem.
- Watch out for the stumps of saplings that may have been chopped off not very close to the ground in previous years.
- Use a smaller blade (50-65 cm in length) around tree stumps, fences and other obstacles.
- Use an old, less valued scythe in areas where junk may have been left, or where there are a lot of large stones.
- Use a bush scythe or else a mattock on woody growth.