Seeing all the variety of work that Richard does I had almost certainly overlooked the technicalities of simply sawing to a line. I’ve been pottering now and then as mentioned in my post earlier this year and I’d finally found the time this past weekend and persuaded Richard to put a bit of thought in to teaching me something properly.
I have several pieces in mind which I’d like to build but I’m getting way ahead of myself. Richard’s suggestion was to practice sawing, and more specifically ripping a short way down thin stock in practice for joinery. There was a wide board of pine clamped up in the vice with half of the face littered squarely across the top and down the face with lines.
I was told I’d need to cut at least 200 of these lines. I couldn’t tell if this was an exaggeration or if Richard was being completely serious (that happens often). I thought perhaps 20 ought to do it but I didn’t say anything.
Whenever attempting to saw in the past my thoughts have been nothing more than to grab hold of saw and push. This is always a clatter getting started and a clatter to make any progress and then when it binds my reaction is to simply push harder.
The first advice when starting line number one was ‘Relax’. Hmmm.. how could that help? But there was an immediate improvement. In fact once I took the weight off the saw I felt like a master compared to my previous jutters. I wasn’t, the line shot away at an angle but did cut so much smoother.
I focused on the next session of lines and had my attention drawn down to my feet. I couldn’t really see how the way the I was standing could have a lot to do with anything, but once again I was impressed with the improvement made, this time from simply giving some thought to my stance and balance.
After my lesson in body position I began to feel that there was an awful lot to be thinking about. I was now on my 3rd row of cuts and picking up the pace – no more trouble getting started, relaxing my grip, cutting fluently (I did relapse several times though.)
The problem now was the angle. Every cut felt smooth but I was repetitively cutting out of square towards my body. I tried cutting out of square the opposite way and accidentally got very close to the desired result.
I began to realise that it wasn’t so much about looking at the line to follow but remembering how it feels to hold the saw when it’s cutting square.
Perhaps that was why I still had a further hundred and fifty to go…
After a few days break I popped back to the workshop today and had another try. I was surprised to find that I could saw quickly right away – at least something must have sunk in! I was far from perfect but got fairly close to the lines each time… well, it was definitely an improvement on before.
This feels like a very meagre achievement to be sharing here but perhaps I’ll be able to move on to something a little more constructive next time?!
More Posts From My Beginner’s Journey
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