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The phase changes of our wood

by on 3 Jun 2011

BARKING. Before hewing and pitsawing, the logs must be peeled. There is a peeling season during which the bark is loose and easily peeled, but we are coming to the end of it. Plus our logs are likely winter cut, felled before the sap rises in the spring. So our peeling job is not easy, and gettng harder by the day. With luck the job can be done with a bark spud, the tool made for the purpose, which Magda and Mikkel are using in the photo below. But often we have to resort to a drawknife, which is slow going.

PITSAWING.  Smaller timbers are not hewable, too small to dog down, too prone to move around and vibrate. So they are pitsawn out of hewn baulks. And now that there are sufficient squares hewn, the splitting and quartering can begin in earnest. There are close to 100 3×4 braces in the frame and the lead photo in the following series shows Barbara and Isaiah finishing up quartering a 6×8.

The saw cuts reached in halfway from either end, not quite meeting in the middle. Once the saw had gone as far as it could, it was retracted, then the log was spun and sawn from the other end, then rotated 90 degrees on its axis, and the sawing process repeated until the stick was quartered. Then, as we see, the log was turned again and rolled/walked down the trestle, then wedged apart. And, to the significant delight of the old building mavens, there was the triangular split mark you find on pitsawn timbers in old buildings.

JOINERY. So far this story has been all about turning round into square, about getting to the threshold of what we usually mean when we say timber framing. Now it’s finally time to take a step through the door.  OK,  so the picture below doesn’t look like much.  But that’s a square Mez is holding, not an axe.  And the saw cut on the end of that 6×6 rafter  is the beginning of  the peak joint where the rafter sits on the ridge.  And so the phase change begins. Next time, more on joinery and the scribe rule.

AXE WOMEN & MEN  (Click on the photo for a higher resolution group picture)


From → At Large

  1. Frank Stroik permalink

    I enjoy the pics and I enjoy the commentary.There are a lot of us with you there in spirit.

  2. I’m enjoying your blog very much. Fascinating stuff and great photos! Keep it up!
    Please say hello to Mark Oteri from the all the gang at Natick Community Organic Farm. Keep those edges sharp, Trish Wesley Umbrell

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