At the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains, in the valley of Saurat, is the last quarry and factory for making natural whetstones, still in operation in France. Established in the early 1900s by the Cuminetti family, this operation was taken over in 2006 by Mr. Soucille of Thiers. The fine grain and mineralogical purity of the schistose sandstone of this quarry, allows for the manufacturing of a complete range of sharpening tools, from stone nail files to grinding wheels. And luckily for us, they still make scythe stones! In the video below Mr. Soucille takes us on a tour of the quarry and factory where these whetstones are produced.
The first time I gave the scythe any thought as a potentially useful tool for me, was while watching an episode of Elliot Coleman's cable TV show called Gardening Naturally. (See 17:25) He said that the scythe that had come to this country, was the "English" (aka American, or Anglo-American) scythe. It had grips that pointed to the front. But, he said the style that he preferred was what he called the "Swiss or German" style of scythe (aka "Austrian"), with the grips pointing toward you. I started out with the style that Elliot recommended. The first time I ever laid eyes on one these "English" scythes, was at the 2006 International Scythe Symposium, where Peter Vido brought out what he called "THE BEAST", as an example of the "perpetuation of a bad idea in snath design". "The Beast" was a surprisingly thick and heavy, and curvy Anglo-American style snath.