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Tools for Trails
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Intro | Working safely | Safety tools | Brushing tools | Sawing & chopping tools | Grubbing & Raking Tools | Digging & Tamping Tools | Pounding & Hammering Tools | Lifting and Hauling Tools | Bark Peeling Tools | Survey, Layout & Measuring Tools | Power Tools | Miscellaneous Tools | Sources for Tools & Supplies

Bark Peeling Tools

Part Eight of an illustrated compendium of trail tools by Jim Schmid
-- download a printable version in Word: text and cover

Spud (Bark Spud/Peeling Spud): Bark spuds can greatly facilitate the removal of bark from green logs that will be used in your trail project. Removing the bark from the log will slow the decay process and give the wood a longer life. The bark spuds have a 1- to 4-foot long wood handle and a dished blade with three cutting edges. All three sides should be sharpened on the top side only. The blade slides between the bark and the wood. The best time of the year for removing bark is in the spring.

Safety tip: Push away from the body and keep hands and feet, as well as other workers, away from the front of the blade.

Draw Knife (Drawknives): A draw knife is used to strip bark from small-diameter logs or poles for waterbars, turnpikes, and other timber work. Grasp it by both handles and pull the blade along the log toward yourself. A draw knife has its handles at a right angle to the blade whereas a bark knife has handles in line with the blade. Bark knifes are meant only for smoothing rough bark—not removing it.

Safety tip: Draw knives are razor sharp so caution is necessary.

Adze (Carpenter Adze): An adze is basically an axe with a curved blade, pointing inwards at right angles to the handle. Its used to finish (hew) beams and logs to form a flat surface—such as the walking surface of a native log bridge. An adze should be kept very sharp and used only for hewing. It should be handled very carefully and contact with the ground avoided. It should always be protected with a sheath.

Safety tip: Exercise caution so an not to cut your feet or shins. When standing on the log being hewed, the toe of your front foot should be elevated so that a glancing blow strikes the bottom of the sole of your boot. Only the back of the heel of the front foot should be resting on the log.

Survey, Layout and Measuring Tools

Clinometer: Clinometers are used by trail designers during trail layout to read the percent of grade between two points. It has a floating scale internally from which a grade is measured. A clinometer cannot be set to a fixed grade. Hold the clinometer to your eye and with both eyes open, sight parallel with the ground (upslope or downslope) to a target (stick or someone your own height), aiming at a point on the target that is equal to the height of your eye above the ground. Read directly from the percent scale. Percent slope, the relationship between the amount of elevational rise or drop over a horizonal distance. Expressed as a equation: Percent of Grade = Rise/Run x 100 persent. A section of trail 100 feet long with 10 feet of elevation difference would be a 10 percent grade.

Safety tip: Both eyes must be kept open when sighting through the clinometer.

Abney Level: Hand-held instrument used since the late 1800s for backcountry surveying. Can be used to measure or set grade of a trail. A protractor mounted on the side of the level with the appropriate scale can be set to a fixed gradient, at which point the user sights through the abney to a fixed reference (usually a second person) until a bubble appears in the crosshair. When the crosshair bisects the bubble, this indicates the preset grade on the abney. The Abney has been replaced in recent decades by the clinometer.

Flagging (Ribbon/Wire Flag): Flagging (roll of ribbon or wire flag) comes in a variety of colors and shapes. Flagging is used as a way of highlighting an area for trail alignment, construction, or maintenance. Ribbon or flag color should be chosen so that it is easily identifiable, and does not blend in with the surrounding terrain. All flagging materials should be removed once the areas work is completed.
Measuring Wheel: The measuring wheel is used to measure distance on the trail. It records the revolutions of a wheel and hence the distance traveled by a wheel on a trail or land surface. Measuring wheels can be used to measure distance for guidebook descriptions and also noted in survey or assessment forms to pinpoint the location of work to be done along the trail.
Tape Measures: The open reel case is made of lightweight polystyrene and is hi-viz blaze orange for excellent visibility.
GPS Receiver: GPS, or Global Positioning Satellite, is a constellation of satellites around the earth that can be used to identify and store a position anywhere on the earth. A GPS receiver can be used for gathering waypoints along a proposed trail corridor or existing trail that indicate where to built a trail or points for maintenance. These points can be stored for future reference, and superimposed on an existing map to quickly identify the trail alignment or maintenance areas.

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