Hosted by AmericanTrails.org
Intro | Working
safely | Safety tools | Brushing
tools | Sawing & chopping tools |
Grubbing & Raking Tools | Digging
& Tamping Tools | Pounding & Hammering
Tools | Lifting & Hauling Tools |
Bark Peeling Tools | Survey,
Layout & Measuring Tools | Power Tools | Miscellaneous
Tools | Sources for Tools
Part Nine of an illustrated compendium
of trail tools by Jim Schmid
-- download a printable version in Word:
text and cover
Chainsaw: Chainsaws with 16 inch blades are generally
adequate for most trail work. Models should be obtained with chain
brakes, vibration damped handles, and high quality mufflers. Chainsaws
can be used to cut medium to large size blowdowns, clearing heavy
sapling growth during trail construction, cutting trees into logs
for wood construction projects such as bridges or shelters. Required
personal protective gear includes leather gloves, ear muffs, eye
protection, hardhat, and Kevlar (or similar) saw chaps.
Safety tip: Chainsaws should be used only by experienced workers
who have undergone training and are certified for chainsaw use.
Power Weed Cutter (Brushsaw): Generally, a power weed
cutter with an engine of 35cc to 80cc and bicycle-type handlebars
is recommended. Trail work requires a more powerful unit than
one (weed whacker) that is used for lawn trimming. Trail work
requires a saw type or a universal grass-brush bladeÑnot
a string cutter. The brushsaw is supported by a shoulder harness,
but can still become very tiring. Be sure to work in a team and
switch positions regularly. When not cutting, the other person
can remove brush from the trail.
Safety tip: The open blade is on the end of a wand, and can
snag and swing violently to the side, making it more prone to
injure other workers rather than the operator. Other workers should
DR Field and Brush Mower: This sturdy mower is an excellent
choice for cutting heavy grass, weeds, briars, and even saplings
from 1 to 2 inch diameter. A DR Field and Brush Mower is simply
a walk-behind brush-hog that is useful during trail construction
and trail maintenance. It comes in 9, 11, 13, or 17 horsepower
models. The 17 HP is the best for trail work with its heavy, 30
inch wide blade capable of powering through saplings up to 2 inches
thick. It is more useful than a sickle-bar mower because the material
is chewed up and does not need to be removed from the trail as
much as with a sickle-bar mower.
Safety tip: The mower can throw objects and injure others.
Other workers should be kept at a safe distance away from the
Stump Grinder: A gasoline-powered portable stump grinder
is handy when you have lots of stumps to remove. They are powered
by a chain saw motor and have carbide teeth that can be resharpened
or replaced. They can grind through a stump in much less time
than it would be needed to dig it out.
Motorized Carriers (Power Wagon): Ideal for hauling stone,
gravel, and dirt motorized carriers are useful for extra-heavy
or frequent hauling needs. These come in various configurations
and typically feature a small engine with a dump body.
Rock Drills/Breakers: Single use or combination rock drill/breakers
or rotary hammer drills are available to drill holes in rock or
concrete. They have many applications for blasting or splitting
rock. They can be used break concrete or rock as well as cut asphalt.
They can also be used to drive pipe, signposts, or ground anchors
as well as chipping and shaping rock. Electric rotary hammer drills
are lower in cost, size, and weight than gas powered models and
the availability of lightweight gas generators has made it possible
to use electric tools at project sites distant from roads. Some
models available include: gas (Pionjar 120, Pico14) or electric
Flexible Post Tools (Post Driver, Pilot Driver, Post Puller):
A special driver must be used when driving fiberglass trail posts
into the ground. A special pilot driver helps when you have to
drive a post into hard or rocky soil. The post puller is specifically
designed for easy extraction of flexible posts. It eliminates
the need of digging out the post.
Hydraulic Jack: Jacks are used to raise heavy weights
such as a corner of a shelter that has settles, or a bridge beam
so that shims can be places or the abutment built up. Can also
be used to level heavy stone steps or any other structureÑas
long as room can be created to insert the jack under the object.
Safety tip: When working under heavy objects, there is always
the danger of having it fall and crush whatever is under it. Extreme
caution should be used when my part of the body is beneath the
structure until it is securely in place.
MAX Multi- Purpose Axe: Incorporates seven basic hand
tools into one compact, versatile unit: A Hudson Bay style axe
head permanently attached to a 36" fiberglass handle, with six
quick-attach tools: shovel, mattock, pick, broad pick, fire rake,
and hoe. Each component slips into a specially designed socket
on the axe head and is secured by either a hitch pin or thumbscrew
tightener. All components are drop-forged from high quality tool
steel and fit into a compact canvas case that can be carried on
a belt or strapped to a pack. Weights only 12-1/2 lbs.
B.O.B. YAK Trailer: The YAK trailer also known as the
Beast of Burden (BOB) seems to be the most prevalent single-wheeled
trailer being used by trail crews. This versatile cargo carrier
attaches to the hub of the rear wheel of a mountain bicycle by
means of a special quick-release skewer. It can be used to carry
hand tools, chainsaws, and day gear very well. BOB Trailers (www.bobtrailers.com)
offers a holder that zip ties to the inside of the trailer for
carrying hand tools more securely.
Tool Repair and Sharpening
Tool handles crack and break all the time. Any tool that has a damaged
handle should be condemned from use until a replacement is installed.
The same is true for tools whose head is loose or cutting edge is broke.
Serious injury can result from tools that need a new handle or have
a broken head. Be sure your tools are in good shape before use.
Files: A 10- to 12-inch flat mill or flat single-cut bastard
file is the simplest tool for shaping a bevel or giving a blade
a fast edge. Because of the tooth design, files cut in only the
forward direction. Dragging on the backstroke quickly dulls the
file. If the file becomes clogged with filings, clean it with
a wire brush or file card.
Safety tip: Make sure you file has a knuckle guard and a handle.
Also good idea to wear gloves.