In the last post we looked mainly at how cutting angles affected the working edge and how not using the file with an even stroke causes the working edge to become rounded. In this post, we'll compare the working edge of a semi-chisel cutter and a chisel cutter - and look at one of the most common faults when sharpening the semi-chisel version. Find out more after the jump...
We of course know that the working edge should be kept at the correct angle and that the edge itself should be straight. This is pretty easy to see when maintaining a chain with chisel cutter as the top plate very definitely meets up with the side plate. After all, it's this that gives the chisel cutter its characteristics - the working corner that comes to a well-defined point that allows the wood fibres to be severed.
However, the semi-chisel cutter does not have this same defined point as there is a curved surface between the top and side plate. This affects the working edge as it no longer stretches the entire width of the cutter, in fact, it almost looks as if the corner has been knocked off or made blunt! The main thing here when sharpening is to ensure that there is a straight edge running from one side to the other side of the top plate - and this is where I see many people who are just learning to sharpen get it wrong. They tend to stop filing slightly too early, achieving a straight edge which, unfortunately, does not go right across the leading edge of the top plate; placing a straight edge against it shows up the problem. The solution? On most occasions it takes just one or two more strokes of the file to sort it out.
I tend to use the straight edge of a file guide to check this leading edge, it just acts as confirmation, but you should be able to see it fairly clearly in good light. You'll see where the curve starts as it leads from the top plate round to the side plate - there'll be a difference in the way the light hits the cutter and it shows exactly where the edge of the top plate is. Follow this line forward to the working edge and make sure that it's straight from this point to the other corner of the top plate - hopefully the picture shows this better than I can explain it.