1. Select a straight pole, preferably ash or hazel, which is the person’s height plus one fist*. It should be thick enough to not flex significantly. The bark can either be removed or left on.
  2. Shape the base of the snath by shaving a flat side at about 15deg to the main length of the snath. Once this is done every other stage follows logically from it, so think carefully about which way any slight bends in the snath are going to go.
  3. Drill a slot (lug-hole) for the lug on the tang, about three inches from the bottom of the snath, and at the top of your new flat area. Two overlapping holes (see table for all specifications) finished with a small chisel.
  4. Check that the ring clamp fits over the base, and shave off wood if necessary. The clamp will need to go past the lug-hole.
  5. With blade fitted, mark the height for the grip, at the location of your hip joint (which should correspond to half way along the snath).
  6. Estimate an angle of 45deg to the tang ie the grip will point away from you. Drill through the snath as centrally as possible.
  7. Shave a small flat area for a washer on the opposite side of the grip.
  8. Make the grip now, if not done already, and drill into the end as centrally as possible. Shape two flat edges on the base of the grip.
  9. Use a saw to start a slight recess for the base of the grip, so that the flat edges prevent rotation. Locate these cuts carefully by positioning the grip on the bolt. Chisel out the recess to a flat surface.
  10. Now that the thickness of the snath is determined, you can drill the hole for the cross dowell. Easy assembly depends on accurate location of this hole.
  11. Clean out the drill holes and assemble. The grip should be very firm, but do not overtighten.
  12. Shave off knots and sand as required to avoid blisters. You are now ready to mow. When you are happy with the set-up, coat the snath with linseed oil.

* Which way round should a tapering pole be used?

Which way round will depend on the characteristics of the pole, as well as personal preference.

A. Thicker end at the bottom (ie where the blade attaches) where strength is required. A little additional extra weight for improved balance can be added just by leaving extra length at the top. However this can be awkward and hazardous to transport, especially with blade attached.

B. Thicker end at the top - improves balance, but beware of weakness and flex near the blade.

Suggested method for making an East European straight snath

My reasons for making my own straight snath are:

1. Exploring the relationship between the scythe blade and the snath, and how the work of mowing is affected.

2. It is satisfying to make one’s own kit, and know that if manufactured snaths were unavailable one would get by.

3. One can have fun using odd materials (‘upcycling’), which the straight design lends itself to. I even made one from a brushcutter shaft!

4. I prefer using the straight snath when mowing a light crop in an open meadow, where a big wide stroke is possible. Also in competitions, I feel that the straight snath provides a more direct application of power.

Schröckenfux blades currently imported by The Scythe Shop have a suitable tang angle for this method, though if considering mowing in confined spaces with a short blade, it might be beneficial to use a pole with a slight kick-up at the base .

It was Phil Batten that first inspired me to make my own snath. The original design came from Peter Vido’s web site (and before that from Eastern Europe of course). This should be referred to at some stage, for more detail and some variations:

My take on this design is to use a cross dowell for attaching the grip. This idea comes from similar connections used on the manufactured snaths. They are also sometimes called barrel nuts, and are readily available from hardware shops or internet suppliers. Using a cross dowell minimises the woodworking skills required, as a mortice and tenon (whether round or square) is not required. It also enables tightening as the wood shrinks, so you can use green wood for any part.

A standard ring clamp is used to attach the blade.

Compared with the manufactured snath, the East European straight snath is longer.

Grip attachment showing cross dowell. This one is a nice curving piece of ash, but straight ones are OK.




Straight pole of ash, hazel etc. measured as your height plus a fist

Nib (grip)

Short length, may be straight or bent at the end at an angle of about 135o

Nib bolt

Bolt M6 x 70-80mm

Cross dowells

M6 x 10mm(diam.)x 20-30mm(length)



Materials required

Tools required



Metric size

Imperial size

To grip materials being worked

Workshop vice, folding workmate or shaving horse

To shape the flat side, at the bottom of the snath

Draw knife, chisel, carving axe, carving knife or sharp penknife

For trimming and finishing of wood

Penknife, sandpaper

To trim lengths of wood

Small saw

To drill hole for tang lug

Brace and bit

7.5 mm


To drill hole for grip bolt

Brace and bit

6 mm


To drill hole for cross dowell

Brace and bit

10-11 mm


To lengthen lug hole to a slot

Narrow chisel

6 mm


To shape join of grip on snath

Broad chisel (or draw knife etc)

20-25 mm

¾” – 1”

To clean out drilled holes

Small round rasp, or chainsaw file or misc. drill bits

To manoeuvre grip bolt & cross dowell

Small hammer, pliers, screwdriver

To tighten nib bolt

Small spanner (or hex key?)

10mm etc

For marking

Chalk or pen

To see what you are doing


+1.5 or otherwise as prescribed by your optician

Pratensis Countryside Services