Note 1 A:

Approximately 25 years ago the Austrian scythe industry made some choices that -- with regard to the neck design issue discussed here -- put it in a straight jacket, so to speak.

Some related history:
Regardless of the enterprise, scythe blades were traditionally forged out of small rectangles of steel. The first hot step was to draw each rectangle lengthwise into a tapered rod-like blank, referred to, in German, as "Zain". (I do not know the English equivalent / an English word for this.) At the thicker end of this blade-to-be, enough material was left for a strong neck, while the opposite end was tapered thinner under a triphammer so that it would be easier to forge a nice light point -- exactly the weight relationship mowers of old desired. The other equally important benefit of that approach was "homogenizing" the steel structure making thereby the end product 'tougher'.

The skill-demanding job of the Austrian "Zain-maker" has now been outsourced to the steel mill. Once at the factory, the blank is merely cut to length of the blade-to-be, plus the tang. Subsequently, using a cold press, two pieces are cut off this blank; at one end to pre-shape the point-to-be and at the other to define the tang's final width. (The Austrian smiths now refer to these as "gestanzte (stamped) Zaine" as opposed to the former "geschmiedete (forged) Zaine".) Thereafter the tang and knob are formed (while hot) by a two-step machine process. However, when such a red-hot bar of equally thick and equally wide flat steel is bent at 90 degrees to form the tang, the material at the outside of the curve stretches and becomes thinner, while the rest of the blank retains the original dimension to both sides of the curve -- which is nearly the opposite of how it used to be...

Though similarly modernized, Falci starts the process with a shorter, round blank which they taper on the blade-to-be end, using a profile-rolling machine. The result is not quite the sword-like shape of old, but it is tapered nevertheless. Then, while hot, the neck/tang end is drop-forged in a die, the shape of which approximates the traditional style of necks. As you can imagine, the old school (whose voice is still reverberates by way of the now retired smiths and former scythe industry's engineers) insists that anything bypassing the hundreds of individual hammer strokes is not 'the real thing'. Of course, the contemporary managers of the (two) remaining Austrian enterprises claim that the action of the roller in a modern steel mill is adequate.

The present method used in Italy can be thought of as a compromise between the two. Although I would wholeheartedly welcome a return to the hammer-shaping of the 'zains' and the hand-shaped tangs of yore, (with each of them slightly different) -- when it comes to machine-made tangs, I haven't seen anything as nice as Falci's present version.




Note 1 B:

In a 2010 essay titled Will Europe's scythe industry evade the Reaper's deadly swing? I expressed at some length my concerns regarding a certain multi-level entropy. The phenomenon is a by-product of the industrial economizing ("production streamlining" is the more business-friendly term); it has been gradual, is many decades old and now apparently unstoppable....or so we are told. To fundamentally re-design the global economic system is not an option -- this we are also told. Well, we shall see...

Interim, among scores of other tool-making enterprises, Austria's scythe industry also bowed to the Bottom Line -- and gradually evolved a system (outlined in Note 1 A) the outcome of which, among other compromises, is the weaker neck.
Its Italian counterpart by no means escaped the process of economizing, but was lucky enough to have their engineers conceive a way to save production time of certain steps without sacrificing the former neck-strength features.
(Notwithstanding the stereotypical image of Italian men -- as ones obsessed with fast cars, fine cuisine and the beauty of women -- some of their accomplishments command respect. Italy is renowned for innovative designs within the realm of the tool-making industry, and many factories all over Europe have, in fact, long been using Italian wood or steel-shaping machinery.)
Falci has been one of the companies contributing to the potpourri of the various inventions in the realm metal profile shaping. Their system of forming scythe blades' back is an example of ingenuity unmatched in Austrian (or for that matter any other) scythe industry. And that is not only my opinion...

Beginning in 1999, I would from time to time bring to the Schrockenfux factory in Austria product samples I picked up while visiting other still existing enterprises, and ask some of the respective Austrian specialists (those who perform the specific steps in the blade making process) for their evaluation. As a rule there was a polite critique but, occasionally, an outright derogatory laugh, as they pointed to the flaws of some factories' creations. With the Falci-made blades it was different.
Always there were quiet nods of approval. None of them could figure out just exactly how the Italians make such elegant backs. Yes, elegant is the term these country men with only basic education often used.
The Falci tangs as well as their knobs are also more 'elegant' than the equivalent presently made by Schrockenfux. In both cases (Austria and Italy) I am now talking of the most contemporary ways of Europe's scythe industry.
Up until WWII most tangs and knobs were shaped under the hand-held hammer of a sweating smith. The tangs always tapered from neck toward the knob; sometimes slightly, sometimes a lot. The knob itself was a signature both of the individual smith, the enterprise he worked for and a period of history. (I was often told that each 'knob-maker' could, many years later, identify with amazing accuracy the very knobs he shaped. This feature is actually one of the tell-tale signs that help me identify the age of some scythe blades. I must, of course, be first familiar with that respective factory's products -- and how their process of production had changed over the years. At this point in history, it is relatively easy to identify the product of every single factory on the globe just by its tang, or even the knob alone.)
By the 1960s, depending on a factory, the tang and knob shaping was either partially or wholly mechanized. By late 1980s machines replaced pretty well all tang and knob-hammering men. The difference between the present tang/knobs of Austria and Italy has nothing to do with the skill of the respective country's smiths. What in this case leads to either elegance or a 'functional' product it is simply the difference in the processes -- performed by the (differently-designed) machines.