Sharpening shop questions and answers: chipbreakers, balancing saw blades, and more!

Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works
Skowhegan, Maine

Wow, the questions have been coming in fast and furious! Time for another question and answer session already!

1. (question about balancing an 8 tooth grass cutting blade)

The 8 tooth circular blade for weed whackers is referred to as a knife edge or grass saw blade. Generally speaking, since this blade is such a small diameter, as long as reasonable care is taken in sharpening, it’s difficult to get one of these out of balance enough to produce objectionable vibrations.

If one of these does vibrate that bad and the problem can’t be spotted by eye, I’d junk the blade, they aren’t expensive enough to warrant a lot of effort trying to balance.

2. (question about sharpening chip breakers)

The chip breaker, used on Bailey patent hand planes and some wooden body planes, serves to stiffen the cutting iron and to make the shaving from the iron curl. The leading edge of the chip breaker sits flat against the iron, so it doesn’t get “sharpened” persay. If the leading edge doesn’t sit flat against the iron, it should be reground to, otherwise shavings will stick under it.

3. (question about removing the arbor nut on a cordwood saw)

Removing the arbor nut from a cordwood saw can be a major pain but it has to be done to get a proper sharpening job on the blade. The usual process of heat, penetrating oil, and large wrench (I use 3/4″ drive sockets) is pretty much it. Remember to be VERY careful with the heat to avoid warping the blade and check to make sure the arbor nut is a right hand or left hand thread!

SwiftWater Edge Tool Works
Visit our web site or give us a call to arrange a pick up or on site sharpening!
Visit us on Fridays at the Arundel Flea Market, Rt 1, Arundel ME for on the spot sharpening and refurbished tool sales!


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