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It's a good idea to give your lawnmower a check-up every few months, but especially at the start of the mowing season. In this video, we’ll teach you the basics of deck maintenance and blade sharpening, which will help keep your mower operating efficiently.

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Before you mow your first strip of grass this season, take some time to make sure your mower is up for the task. All it takes is a little know-how, and some basic mower maintenance products from your local independent home improvement retailer.

In the first segment, we showed you how to get your mower ready for the season by performing necessary maintenance on the engine. In this segment, we’ll clean the mower deck and sharpen the blades.

So let’s get started.

Whenever we talk about maintenance, it always starts with a good cleaning. In our case, we’ll clean the mower deck and housing.

Start by brushing off any debris on the top of the mower housing, followed by a good cleaning with a scrub brush and an all-purpose cleaner and degreaser. Also inspect the handle to make sure all connections are tight and all moving parts, like the throttle, are in good working order.

Before we clean the underside of the mower deck to remove any caked-on grass, it’s important to first disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug to avoid any chance of the mower accidentally starting. Simply pull the rubber terminal wire off the end of the spark plug.

Now it’s time to tip the mower on its side. Again, consult the instructions that came with your mower on the proper way to do this to avoid spilling fuel.

With the mower on its side, we’ll first remove the blade. As an extra safety precaution, wrap the ends of the blade with towels or rags and some duct tape to prevent personal injury while removing or installing the blade. Then, wedge a piece of wood in the mower’s discharge shoot or some other leverage point on the deck to prevent the blade from turning while you loosen the blade nut. Each mower is different, so take some time to find a place that works. When the blade is securely wedged against the piece of wood, use a socket wrench to remove the blade nut and then the blade. Set it aside for now.

With the blade removed, spray down the deck housing with a garden hose to help loosen any caked-on grass. Then scrape the rest away with a putty knife. Using your scrub brush and all-purpose cleaner, go ahead and scrub the rest of the grass and dirt away and rinse clean.

Now, back to the blade. Sharpening a blade takes a little more skill than the other maintenance procedures we’re discussing today, so if you are hesitant about this part of the project, ask your local independent home improvement retailer if they offer sharpening services. If they don’t, they can recommend someone who does.

Your lawnmower blade is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. It needs to be in good shape, it needs to be balanced and it needs to be sharp in order to cut the grass instead of tearing it. Before you begin sharpening the blade, inspect it carefully. If it has deep pits or is cracked, it’s time to replace it. If it’s just dull, you can sharpen it using several different methods.

We’ll start by placing the blade securely in a vice. Again, make sure you are wearing thick work gloves for this, as well as eye protection.

With a mill bastard file, like the one I’m holding here, find the bevel of the blade so the file rests flat against this angle. It’s important that you maintain this same angle as you sharpen the blade.

Hold the file at both ends and push it along the beveled portion of the blade. You’ll know you are doing it right when you start to see metal shavings and when the blade edge turns bright silver. You will only be sharpening on the push stroke, never the pull stroke. After one side is sharp, flip it over and sharpen the other side.

A good way to tell if it’s sharp is when it can easily cut through a sheet of paper.

Another way to sharpen the blade is with this rotary tool attachment that slips over the blade and grinds it sharp. Ask you’re local retailer for details on this sharpening method.

When both sides are sharp, it’s time to check to make sure the blade is balanced. A blade that isn’t balanced will wobble, which can ruin the bearings in your mower. There are balancing kits specifically designed for this, or you can balance it on a screwdriver through the center bolt hole. If one side dips below level, you’ll need to continue to sharpen that side until the blade stays level on the screwdriver shaft. After it’s balanced, take this opportunity to spray the underside of the deck with lubricating oil before reinstalling the blade using the same procedure you used to remove it. Some manufacturers even have special lubricating products designed to keep grass from sticking. After you set the mower back down, don’t forget to reattach the spark plug wire to the spark plug.

There you have it. Now this mower is ready for the mowing season, and yours will be too when you take a little time to get your mower tuned up.

If you have questions about this or any other home improvement project, be sure to read our list of Frequently Asked Questions for this video. And be sure to print out our Project Instructions, which includes a Tools and Materials checklist, before visiting your local independent home improvement retailer. That’s where you’ll find all the products and helpful advice to complete your project. If you’re not sure where to find your local store, check out our Store Locator.

Good luck with your project and thanks for watching.

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  1. 1.clean off

    Clean off the lawnmower by brushing off debris.

  2. 2.spray down

    Spray down with cleaner and wipe off.

  3. 3.handle

    Inspect the handle to make sure all connections are tight and all moving parts are in working order.

  4. 4.disconnect spark

    Before working on the mower blades, disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug.

  5. 5.tip to side

    Tip the lawn mower on its side. Read instructions so as to not spill gas from the tank.

  6. 6.wrap blade

    Wrap the blade with towels and tape for protection.

  7. 7.take off blade

    Place a wedge to keep the blade from spinning while you disconnect it.

  8. 8.clean

    Clean the underside with a hose.

  9. 9.scrape

    Scrape away tough patches with a putty knife. Spray with cleaner and brush with a cleaning brush. Rinse off.

  10. 10.file

    Sharpen Blade Method 1: Use a file making sure it's parallel to the blade surface.

  11. 11.rotary tool

    Sharpen Blade Method 2: Use a rotary tool attachment.

  12. 12.balance

    Test the balance of the blade by hanging it on something form the center hole. If one side dips, keep sharpening that side.

  13. 13.spray

    Spray underside with lubricating oil.

  14. 14.replace fuel

    Reattach the blade.

  15. 15.reattach

    Reattach the spark plug wire.


Project Faqs « back to project

What should I look for when buying a lawn mower?

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What annual maintenance needs to be done on my mower?

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How do I maintain my mower after each use?

After each mowing, wait until then engine cools and then use a hose to spray the clippings and grass debris that may be clinging to the underside of... More »

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There is a product specially formulated as a pre-emergent that prevents crabgrass but allows grass seed to... More »

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Sanding deck boards before proceeding with the staining process helps ensure that the surface of the deck is level and there are no tripping... More »

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Some of the common reasons mowers won’t start include the following: 1. It’s out of gas. 2. It’s flooded. Let it sit for an hour or two or... More »


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You should feed your lawn every six to eight weeks during the growing season. This usually means April, June, August and October, but your lawn may... More »

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It’s a good idea to reapply stain once a year on wooden decks, especially if the deck is located in full sun most of the time. The sun’s... More »

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Excessive cracking at the ends of wooden deck boards is a sign that too much water is being absorbed into the ends of the board (also known as end... More »

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It depends on what type of soil and grass you have. Aerate clay soil twice a year and sandy soil once a year. Spring and fall are the best times for... More »

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