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Of Axes, Chisels, & Mountain Bikes

Green woodworking with hand tools isn’t just about carving spoons or turning Windsor chairs. The method is immensely practical for building all kinds of outside-the-box structures in the woods, whether a log footbridge to span a stream or a lean-to for a quiet resting place. A few months ago, we heard from Seth Gebel, owner of Backyard Trail Builds, LLC, and proprietor of the popular (with millions of views) “Backyard Trail Builds” YouTube channel. Seth constructs incredible mountain biking features in the woods, and lately has been focusing his efforts on what he calls “Primal” builds, utilizing only hand tools. These creations involve clever hand-cut joinery, timber that is harvested, rived, and hewn on-site, pegged decking, and even incorporates reverse-twisted cordage from...

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Axe Maintenance: Touching up an Edge

  Regular readers know my work philosophy is pretty laid back. I don’t sweat tear out on secondary surfaces, I think knots are fine for drawer parts and back boards, etc… That’s why when it comes to axe edge maintenance, some might be surprised at how fastidious I am about keeping it tip top. Some folks don’t feel a need to keep up on their coarser tools but I don’t buy that distinction. When your coarse prep relies on human muscle rather than machines, a keen edge is your best friend. I’ve wasted too much time straining myself working with dull tools. Saving two minutes of sharpening only to grunt through 20 minutes of miserable work is dumb. It’s simply...

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