My kingdom for a grass hook!

by | Mar 11, 2013 | Uncategorized | 18 comments

 My little scythe, which evidently is called a grass hook, has broken. I inherited this implement with the bach some 40 years ago, and it has done many years of trusty service. It’s perfect for cutting the tough grass that grows along the pathways and steps, and around the garden. You know how it is, when you’ve been using a good implement for many years, somehow your body makes friends with it.

 I learned how to take care of garden tools from my father. He would oil his spade and slide it into a bucket of sand to keep it shiny and rust-free. He taught me how to tie knots, stack wood, and later, to sharpen tools.

 He would approve of my wood pile, and the way I’ve crawled in to the wood box, and started pulling out the back row, ready for a new lot of wood to be cut for the winter. Here we are still in summer drought, but my father taught me how to prepare for the next season.

In my forties, spurred on by feminism and the slogan, ‘Girls can do anything’, I asked for tools for my birthdays. Here I am with one tier of the compost bin my father gave me one year. Another time he gave me a fine carpenter’s saw, and my man friend of the time gave me a yellow crow-bar.

And so, when one shop after the other informed me that they no longer stock grass hooks (because everyone uses those horrid weed eaters), you can imagine my disappointment. The grass was growing while I went from one shop to another, and in the end I had to buy this Chinese-made machete. I knew it was not well-made: the handle is not at all hand-friendly, the studs attaching the blade don’t look very secure, and worst of all, I discovered that it was quite blunt. Even though I’ve tried sharpening it, I’ve had no luck. A blade made of poor metal won’t sharpen well.
And so,  I’m putting out a call for a good, old-fashioned little scythe. My kingdom for a grass hook!


  1. Lynley

    I love the “smoothed with age and use” look of the handle of your precious grass hook.

    I have my parents tree loppers and they are magnificent to use. The modern ones have buckled so I protect the old ones very keenly.

    Would this website help you to find a substitute?

  2. juliet

    * Lynley, thanks for the link. Those tools look really good, and there might be one that will do nicely. I can imagine how you value your parents’ tree loppers. The old tools were so well made.

  3. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet .. love the photos and the concept – our parents and grandparents knew how to look after things ..

    Gorgeous woodpile – the wood has amazing art in it ..

    I hope Lynley’s idea helps .. I know we all learnt loads from our elders re tools – albeit I don’t have a garden and lived in SA for many a year, I appreciated the value of those well made, and well honed objects … and a well looked after toolshed!

    Cheers Hilary

  4. Hotly Spiced

    My husband treasures all his tools and takes great care of them like your father so I can just imagine your disappointment with this inferior grass cutter. I do hope you find a much better replacement for you much loved tool xx

  5. MandaBurms

    I’ll ask Brent to have a look at your photo cause I wonder if it is fixable with a weld? He will know. There is something about a fav tool!
    Love Leanne

  6. juliet

    * Hilary, you are so right. Previous generations looked after their tools so well. Glad you like the woodpile, and nice to know you are still out there – enjoying the blogging break I hope?

    * Charlie, how wonderful that your husband cares for his tools so well. I hope the boys are taking note!

    * Leanne, what a kind thought, thank you.

    Hilary, Charlie and Leanne: I’ve been emailed some good leads and there’s even the possibility of an old one coming my way. I’ll do another post about the outcome. Thank you for your comments.

  7. Penny O'Neill

    Your father taught you well, Juliet. I hope you can find a replacement, or, perhaps, someone to repair it.

    We have many old tools here; Tom’s treasures. Many are from his great grandparents’ homestead in Ohio. He uses them and he takes good care of them.

    Good luck. A good tool is like an extension of our hands, isn’t it?

  8. Diana Drent

    From my father (died 2005) I also have a number of tools. And they do it just fine.

    I live on a farm and on the land we have my father-in-law was often busy with a scythe. He was very handy with it.

  9. juliet

    * Cally, I’ll check out that link, thank you. How nice to meet a scythe user!

    * Penny, how wonderful to have such treasured tools, and that Tom cares for them so well. An extension of our hands – that says it perfectly!

    * Diana, I’ve never seen anyone using a big scythe. How lucky you are.

    Thank you Cally, Penny and Diana, much appreciated.

  10. Anonymous

    Good on you that you are so self sufficient. I must confess I rely quite a bit on my husband who loves his tools. This is also the result of me having two left hands though making any tool dangerous in my hands.
    Love that grass hook. When I see it my thoughts go to making yourself a way through a jungle or west coast bush lol Good luck finding a new hook

  11. juliet

    Thank you, anonymous. You posted twice, so I deleted one of them. The grass hook worked really well, so I’m sad that it broke.

  12. growMama

    oh sadness when such a beautiful tool breaks after so many years of service…i will look out for one for you juliet. x

  13. juliet

    Anissa, how kind. Thank you.

  14. juliet

    Jonathan, thank you. I’m so glad to find out that they are still being made. Only problem is that Dunsford is in England and I am in New Zealand! I have found something else meanwhile and will put up a post about it as it’s been an interesting process.

  15. Peter

    I know it was ten years ago when you wrote this post, but I have just bought a grass hook similar to what you have in the picture, and I am wondering how to sharpen it. People talk about peening, and others using a stone. Looking at the blade it seems to have gone through an angle grinder. Would love to know how you used to sharpen yours… and hope you got a nice new (or old) on in the end!

    • Juliet Batten

      Hi Peter, I used a stone to sharpen it by hand. I was given a smaller one by someone whose father was disposing of his old tools, so that was lucky. Good luck with yours.


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