Cut the (power) cord with these sharp wood­work­ing tools.

American Survival Guide - - CONTENTS - By Dana Benner

Whether you’re a DIY home­owner or a hard­core home­steader, you will see your fair share of wood­work­ing projects. That said, there are only two rea­sons you would rely upon hand tools for wood con­struc­tion projects: you want to or you have to. No mat­ter which rea­son is yours, in a sur­vival sit­u­a­tion, hav­ing the right tools and the abil­ity to use them could mean the difference be­tween life and death. In the short term, you might be able to get by with just an axe and a bush knife. But, if the sit­u­a­tion is pro­tracted, your tool arse­nal must in­clude hand tools that have broader ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Within your "bag of tricks" should be three tools, all of which will make your life eas­ier. They are the draw knife, adze and a set of wood chis­els. In this ar­ti­cle, we will take a look at all three and dis­cuss how they are used and when you would use them.


Why am I dis­cussing these tools, as op­posed to axes and saws? Simply put, axes and saws will pro­vide you with the lum­ber you need to make sheds, barns, fence posts and a home. How­ever, draw knives, adzes and chis­els will al­low you to take that lum­ber and turn it into those things you need. Whether by choice or not, if you plan on longterm sur­vival in off-grid liv­ing conditions, you

will need to make things. These tools will al­low you to do that eas­ier and more ef­fi­ciently. Bark will need to be peeled, and pegs will need to be made. Gut­ters will also need to be made to al­low rain and snowmelt to be di­verted from the home­stead. The list could go on and on. So, once again, to ac­com­plish these tasks, you will need these tools.


The draw knife is an an­cient tool. Ex­am­ples of draw knives have been found among Vik­ing tools that date back to 100 AD. They were very pop­u­lar tools for shap­ing tim­bers in the ship­build­ing in­dus­try. Draw knives were brought to Amer­ica by the early colonists and were very com­mon in places such as Jamestown and the Ply­mouth Colony. Al­though draw knives have been re­placed in mod­ern times by more-ef­fi­cient power tools, they will make a come­back if the power grid goes down. Draw knives come in var­i­ous sizes, rang­ing from 8 to 21 inches long. The blade is nor­mally chisel-shaped, with a beveled cut­ting edge on the front. On each end of the blade are forged ta­per­ing tangs set at right an­gles to the cut­ting edge. Onto these tangs are fit­ted the han­dles. The han­dles of draw knives are usu­ally wood (al­though with the vast amount of new ma­te­ri­als out there, the han­dles could be made from just about any­thing). The draw knife is used by grasp­ing the han­dles and, as the name im­plies, draw­ing it to­ward you. For proper re­sults, the piece of wood should be clamped in place or sta­bi­lized in some man­ner,


and the cut should be made with the grain of the wood. The depth of the cut is con­trolled by rais­ing or low­er­ing the han­dles. The idea is to shave away small amounts at a time un­til the de­sired re­sult is reached. The uses for the draw knife are al­most end­less. It can be used to re­move bark from logs, for round­ing logs to be used for fence posts or for tak­ing down rough edges from tim­bers used for build­ing homes or barns. Draw knives can also be used to make pegs and han­dles for axes and other hand tools. They are per­fect


for mak­ing fur­ni­ture legs and tak­ing the sharp edges off planks and handrails. So, you can see why this tool is an im­por­tant one to have in an off-grid sit­u­a­tion.


The adze is an­other an­cient tool, dat­ing back to the Stone Age. It is made sim­i­larly to an axe, but where the blade of the axe is in line with the handle, the blade of the adze is per­pen­dic­u­lar to the handle, sim­i­lar to a gar­den hoe. With its sharp edge, the adze is some­times re­ferred to as a “chisel” made for chop­ping. There are two forms of adzes: the hand adze and the foot adze. The hand adze is a short-han­dled tool made to do fin­ish work. These adzes are used a great deal to­day by wood carvers and are available with straight and curved blades. They are also per­fect for mak­ing wood gut­ters and chair seats for your off-grid home. Foot adzes have long han­dles and are made to be swung us­ing two hands, with the cut­ting edge strik­ing the log near the foot. These tools are de­signed for large-scale wood re­moval, such as mak­ing a trough for your live­stock or rough­ing out a dugout ca­noe. The adze has mul­ti­ple uses around the work­shop and home­stead. It has al­most been made ob­so­lete by the power saw and power planer, but in a world with­out power, the adze will get the job done. With proper prac­tice, a per­son us­ing an adze is ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing use­able smooth and flat tim­bers from a log. It was men us­ing adzes who made the rail­road ties up through the early 1900s. Adzes were also used to shape the tim­bers used to build sail­ing ships dur­ing the golden age of sail­ing. Around the off-grid home­stead, the adze can be used to shape logs into wood for sheds, barns


Left: It is im­por­tant to keep your tools sharp. Here, the au­thor is sharpening a draw knife us­ing the Work Sharp WSGSS sharpening sys­tem.


This wood­worker is us­ing a chisel to re­fine the tenon that will fit into a mor­tise, solidly join­ing two pieces of wood.

A mattock is ba­si­cally just a dull adze that is used to dig in the ground. The au­thor sharp­ened this hand mattock to con­vert it into an adze. While it is not the same qual­ity as a true adze, it will work in a pinch.


Above: A draw knife (top), wood chisel (mid­dle) and an adze made from a mattock (bot­tom) Near right: Split-rail fences are easy to make and are a good choice for the of­f­grid home­stead. The pieces were pro­cessed by us­ing an adze. The mor­tises (slots) and tenons (tabs) were made with a chisel. The edges of the posts were rounded us­ing a draw knife. Above, top and bot­tom: All the work re­quired to build this rough split-rail fence can be done with sim­ple hand tools such as a draw knife, adze and chisel. Left: This wood­worker is shap­ing the wood with a draw knife that has a curved blade.


A draw knife can per­form fine work too. Here, it is be­ing used to re­move rough edges from the side of a bar­rel.

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