When you have been taking care of your lawn for a long time it can be a bit of an embarrassing question to ask – do lawn mower blades turn clockwise or counterclockwise?
Because really you feel like you should know.
However until it comes to changing a mower blade, you really have no reason to know.
That is when it is important to make sure you don’t put your blade on upside down!
We look at both issues in this blog.
So let’s get started…
Do Lawn Mower Blades Turn Clockwise Or Counterclockwise?
The vast majority of mower blades will turn clockwise when viewed from the perspective of the person using the lawn mower (or counter-clockwise if turning the mower upside down to look at the bottom of the mower). Make sure your replacement blades rotate the correct way by referring to instructions stamped on the blade themselves or ensuring the sharp edge of the blade follows the direction of rotation.
Determining Which Way the Blades Turn
Most lawn mower blades rotate in a clockwise direction when viewed from the operator’s perspective, ie when you are pushing your mower around your lawn and looking down at it the blades are rotating clockwise.
That means if you are looking at the deck from below, ie if you have turned your mower upside for any reason, that same blade will rotate counterclockwise.
I say most because I think Simplicity mowers are an exception to the rule, as they have blades that spin in the opposite direction.
But that is rare, every other mower I have encountered has blades that spin clockwise (or counterclockwise when viewed from below).
Nearly all household rotary mowers have just one high-speed rotating blade. Some commercial mowers may have two or three blades, that will rotate in both directions.
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Then we have cylinder or reel mowers which have anywhere between five and 12 exposed blades.
A quick way to confirm which way the blades on your mower rotates is to look for the discharge chute for your grass clippings.
If it is on the right side of your mower then the blades turn clockwise.
How To Make Sure You Put Your Mower Blade on the Right Way
Often people want to know which way their mower blades turn as they need to replace them.
Putting your blade on the wrong way isn’t a disaster, but it certainly will make cutting your lawn much more difficult!
That is because the blades are designed to suck the grass towards them, cut it and then discharge it.
If you put the blade on backwards or upside down, it will have the opposite effect, blowing the grass away and effectively beating it down!
Thankfully making sure your blade is on the right way is fairly simple and there are a few ways to double-check.
#1 Look For a Label
The quickest and easiest way to make sure you put your blade on the right way is to look at the blade itself.
Most manufacturers will put some kind of indication on the blade of which way it should face.
So look for the words ‘This Side Up’, ‘This Side Down’, ‘This Side Towards Grass’ or something along those lines.
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#2 Pull the Cord (a bit)
When you have your replacement blade you will notice two contrasting edges.
Find the sharp edge of the blade, this should point away from the deck and towards the ground when it is installed.
The easiest way to confirm this is to pull the starter cord a fraction and observe in which direction the crankshaft turns.
Before doing this make sure you disconnect the spark plug wire from your engine for safety reasons.
When you know which direction your crankshaft turns simply ensure the blade faces that direction of rotation when you install.
If you have a riding mower the process is similar. Whichever way the spindles turn is the side the cutting edge of the blade should face and turn.
#3 Watch the Wings
In a similar vein to the above method, opposite the cutting edge of the blade should be an edge that isn’t flat but angled upwards.
This angled surface creates an updraft to make the grass stand up as the blade approaches it, giving the sharp edge of the blade a nice clean cut.
This angled surface should point upwards to the mower deck.
If it is pointing downwards it will have the opposite of its intended effect, it will push the grass down and you will not get a good cut!
Which Direction Do You Turn the Nut to Remove a Mower Blade?
Ok you’ve established you need a new mower blade.
You’ve established which way you need to put it on.
Now comes the hard part… Removing the old blade!
From my experience loosening the bolts to remove an old blade can be VERY difficult, simply because they are put on so tightly.
Also if you are trying to turn them the wrong way to loosen them (as I have done before!) that doesn’t help.
The nut will always turn the opposite way to that which the blade travels when viewed from the operator’s position.
So having learned the vast majority of mower’s blades turn clockwise, this means that the vast majority of the nuts will need to be turned anti-clockwise to loosen them.
You will need a good wrench or socket tool, a lot of strength and usually a lot of patience!
If you really can’t budge the nut, try using some anti-seize compound on it.
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Our infographic above summarises it all but nearly all lawn mower blades will turn clockwise when viewed from the operator’s position.
But always double-check just in case your mower is one of the select few that has blades that turn the opposite way!
If you are changing your blade, the replacement blade should have instructions stamped on it to ensure you don’t put it on upside down when you install it.
If it doesn’t you can look for the cutting edge of the blade, this should point towards the ground when you have installed it.
On the contrary, the opposing curved edge of the blade should point back up towards the body of the mower.