A scythe consists of a wooden shaft about 67 inches long that may be straight, or with an "S" curve, but the more sophisticated versions are curved in three dimensions, allowing the mower to stand more upright. The shaft has either one or two short handles at right angles to it – usually one near the upper end and always another roughly in the middle. A long, curved blade about 24 to 35 inches long is mounted at the lower end, perpendicular to the shaft. Scythes always have the blade projecting from the left side of the shaft when in use, with the edge towards the mower.
A war scythe is a kind of improvised pole weapon, similar to a fauchard, usually created from standard scythes. The blade of the scythe is transformed so as to extend upright from the pole, thus forming an infantry weapon practical both in offensive actions against infantry and as a defensive measure against enemy cavalry.
As a pole weapon, the war scythe is characterised by long range and powerful force (due to leverage): there are documented instances where a scythe cut through a metal helmet. They could be used, depending on construction and tactics, to make slashing or stabbing attacks, and with their uncommon appearance and considerable strength could have a psychological impact on an unprepared enemy. However, like most pole weapons, their disadvantages were weight (which could quickly exhaust the user) and slow speed. The war scythe was probably an early ancestor of more professional pole weapons like halberds. 
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