Hand Tools Archive

Subject:
The Need for Clarifying some Terminology

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
I would like to propose the following

Unicorning and Unicorn Profile- The sum of the unconventional bevel angles ground on the tool plus the refinement of buffing just the tip to establish the Unicorn Profile. (What David does)

Unicorning-Lite and Unicorn-Lite Profile - After conventional sharpening the refinement of buffing just the tip to establish the Unicorn-Lite Profile

Buffing Buffing the whole bevel to simply sharpen the tool. This operation is not Unicorning. It does not provide all the benefits of Unicorning.

The need for this clarification of terminology is becoming important. Unicorn and Unicorn-Lite are clearly different. In discussing what one is doing either in text or by name the reader needs to know what kind of profile is in fact being discussed.

More significant, people are being found, or coming out of the woodwork, that claim to have been doing Unicorning for decades when if fact they were simply using a buffing of some sort, with details not explained, as a sharpening step on the whole of the bevel.

It struck me that professionals must have developed means of dealing with chisel tip damage when cross grain chopping. I began polling those I knew to describe in detail how they prepared a chisel for chopping away dovetail waste. The range of responses was surprising. As expected, some optimized the bevel angle. Some just sharpened as usual and lived with the damage. Unexpected one shop seemed to be Unicorning routinely and even suggested a buff wheel from a knife supply for the task. Another seemed to be Unicorning "when mortising hard dry wood", but this owner is cranky at times and shut down further exploration of details. As an aside, some carved and buffed the entire bevel of chisels and gouges.

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