Ripping

I am ripping down a piece of 135mm tas oak for a drawer-bottom. Straight down the guts of it, I mean: the sectional cut of greatest area; the big-board-to-two-thin-boards break; if you see what I mean. The sort of thing done in twenty-five seconds by a bandsaw, but taking me an hour and a half (maybe; I’m not counting, and I don’t think you should either). I sharpened my dad’s dad’s ripsaw yesterday (well, it’s sort of mine now — and how I love the thing!) and it’s now doing it’s octagenerian best (no, actually I’ve no terribly firm idea of how old it is) to rip straight and thin and planar. My muscles are attempting to keep up with it, and not doing so well. Perhaps another few drawer-bottoms, or wardrobe-backs, or other thinish bits of furniture cladding (which don’t mind their back’s been furry) will see me back in condition. Perhaps not.

Ripping timber like this is fun. That’s why I’m doing it. I don’t really need a drawer bottom made in this way — my dad gave me a perfectly suitable panel of ply just three days ago, that he didn’t want and that I’ve not other use for — so it must be for fun. Why else would I have eschewed the much faster (and yes, certainly more structurally stable, and probably stronger) route of plywood-and-glue and have the drawer slid into its home and gone from my todo list by now?

Because this isn’t about making a drawer, it would seem. (And oh! what other new-age cliches are to come next?!)

It’s about standing at my bench, making sawdust, hearing the tools in the wood, breathing with the strokes of the saw… feeling non-analytical for once! Just doing, very slowly, and not thinking anything of the future, or how all this is meant to work. It’s time to let the programmer’s brain sleep for a while…

(Oh, and “non-analytical”?! Yes, quite; but I didn’t say “non-ironic” did I? Hmm…)

Closer, Closer, Ever Closer to Where The Wood Really Is.

To be in touch — in contact — with the wood is a wonderful thing; the dust, shavings and sweat blackening my hands; reveling in intimacy with the tree, giving part of myself in exchange for what I am making. Running my hand over the wood, sweeping the shavings off the bench with my skin, it’s this closeness and rawness that cries out to me as real; to get closer, ever closer, to what the wood actually is. Lying curled up, warm and safe, almost consuming the wood (or being consumed by it — it’s hard to tell), at the heart of a tree; or cold, barely holding on high in the crown as the rain whips down, but yet there is care present where the smallest branches meet, and it uplifts. The emotion of the tree is, like the picture in a hologram, present in every part removed from the whole and is ever further released every time we work or use that wood. So personal, so universal; so real.