Lawn Mower Tune-up (Deck)

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.

Tools

Steps

  1. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 1

    Clean off the lawnmower by brushing off debris.

  2. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 2

    Spray down with cleaner and wipe off.

  3. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 3

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

  4. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 4

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

  5. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 5

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

  6. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 6

    Wrap the blade with towels and tape for protection.

  7. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 7

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

  8. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 8

    Clean the underside with a hose.

  9. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 9

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

  10. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 10

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

  11. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 11

    Sharpen Blade Method 2: Use a rotary tool attachment.

  12. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 12

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

  13. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 13

    Spray underside with lubricating oil.

  14. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 14

    Reattach the blade.

  15. Lawn Mower Deck Tune-up - Step 15

    Reattach the spark plug wire.


Read Video Transcript

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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2 responses to “Lawn Mower Tune-up (Deck)”

  1. Thank you for the tutorial. Very well done and informative.

  2. Linda says:

    Now that it’s almost summer, it seems that I should know a few things that will help me take better care of my lawn mower. I try to replace the engine oil on a regular basis, so checking the spark plug is something that I should start doing. I’ve noticed that my lawn mower has been losing power since last summer, so I’ll take your advice and replace my old spark plugs to improve the way it runs.

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