Buck and Sharpen

right: The compromise of sharpening.

Back to the tree. Remove the branches by swinging up from below at their base, with perhaps a finishing blow into the crotch. You may want to leave a branch as a lever to help you turn the log, or to keep it off the ground. Nothing is stable yet, so stay alert.

Bucking with an axe is fine for smaller trees. Stand on top and swing down below and between your feet, opening a notch almost as wide as the log is thick. Chop halfway through from one side and halfway from the other.

The work is slowing down. Is it you, or does the axe need sharpening? Cutting wood means sharpening tools, and sharpening means compromise, or if you prefer, creating the optimal balance of wedge and edge.

With an axe, wedge and edge work together, each allowing the other to do its job. The more acute the edge, the more easily and deeply it can cut the fibers before the splitting action begins. If the edge is too obtuse, too wedgelike, the resistance of the compressed fibers will stop the penetration of the edge too quickly. But if the edge is excessively acute, the bit may sink in deeply without any wedging action, sticking in the wood and never popping out a chip.

In edge tools, another factor comes into play—durability, or how long the edge will last. Any cutting edge is the intersection of two lines, both in theory and reality. With increasing acuity, the line of cutting ease goes up as the line of durability goes down. The durability line slides to the right with better steel, to the left with harder wood. Optimum sharpening lies at the intersection of these two lines.

After repeated use and sharpening, an axe tends to become more wedgelike, more obtuse. So, it's not just the edge that needs touching up; the cheeks need to be brought in as well. This means you have to remove a lot of steel, but axes, along with hatchets, saws, and auger bits, are tempered soft enough to sharpen easily with a file.

Draw the file along the bit.

You'll need both hands on your file, so sit on a log and slip the axe handle under one leg so that the head presses firmly on your opposing knee. Then, push or draw the fine, flat file along the full length of the blade. Take care—you can get badly cut.

The file cuts in only one direction, so lift it off the steel on the return stroke. On most other tools, the sharpening bevels, the faces that intersect to form the edge, are flat or faceted. On axes and knives, leave these bevels gently rounded. When cutting harder woods, you want more rounding and a more obtuse edge, upward of 30 degrees. On softer stuff, you can go down below 25 degrees. You'll soon learn what your steel can take.

On the cheeks of an old axe, up away from the edge, you may not be filing steel at all—it may be wrought iron. Old tools are mostly forged from tough, but too-soft-to-hold-an-edge wrought iron, with only the bit made of more expensive, more fragile carbon steel. This combination of steel and iron gives old tools their uncompromised toughness, and (in both senses of the word) it gives them their edge.

On an axe head, the layer of steel goes right down the center of the business end. On old chisels, plane irons, drawknives and the like, you'll see the layer of tool steel on the flat side of the iron body. Unlike axes, these other tools are not exposed to violent shock and frozen knots, so their steel can be hardened beyond the ability of a file to cut them. Axes, to endure, need their softer temper.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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