Sawing wood

I like sawing wood.

I’m not really into dead cellulose as a building material; I like concrete, steel, glass in my buildings, soaring Modernism not twee’ly rustic Arts’n’Crafts. But none of them are as much fun to cut as a chunk of wood.

Sawing wood takes care and thought as well as rhythmic pumping back and forth. You’ve got to line up the cut, measure twice and make it precise. Then notch each corner with a few short strokes, and score across the whole length of the cut to a millimetre deep or so. Providing a guide for the saw, a little channel to sink your calories into.

Sawing wood with a large saw is like complexity theory: the tiniest variations in conditions at the beginning – your notches not quite square to a corner, your saw placed at a slight angle, your first few strokes not being quite straight – set the scene for a good or bad cut. You’ll know, within the first cm or so of the cut, which result you’re going to end up with. The line of the cut veering inexorably either side of the groove you scored; the painful-looking lacerations when you bend the saw (the opposite way of what seems logical) to get it back on track. But get it right, and the feeling approaches nirvana. A sheet of metal gliding backwards and forwards into a solid oblong of timber, slicing away a perfect 90 degree section of which Euclid himself would have been proud. Showing the wood respect.

Sawing wood keeps the Black Dog at bay.

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