I’ve been sawing over the past week the sections of big tree that by some miracle was able to be loaded in my truck. I started with one of the smaller sections, marking at 1-3/4″ on center, so making boards of 1-5/8″ after the kerf is considered. Really I think of this cut as 6/4, the thickness I need for shoji rail/stile. I was amazed to get such a good mark of the ink-line for the ouside boards. Some of it had to be marked in by eye with the sumisashi.
And, after a day of sawing, I came to the parting off. I’ve been told that the maebiki-oga looks almost cartoonish in scale. It starts to make perfect sense when you’re cutting through more than 12″. This log was heavy enough that I had to waylay my brother into helping me lift it onto the horse. It almost tipped over the whole affair in the process. I guess that’s how you know that the log is getting heavy enough to mill horizontally. Ideally one person can accomplish any of this stuff with a bit of ingenuity.
The sawdust makes sitting on the ground quite comfortable. Or kneeling for that matter.
If you understand the possibilities of the ramp you’ll save yourself a great deal of back ache. I almost, almost had a dumb moment and tried to lift the log up onto the cradles. Apparently I can learn!I keep on putting my cant hook in photos as well, hopefully you can understand how fucked you’d be not to have this tool and try to move heavy logs. I need some heavy towing chain and a couple log hooks though, I could definitely use some more tools.
For the next log I picked the largest one. Since it was slightly oblong in cross-section I marked my boards to maximize accurate marking surface as opposed to width of board. Somebody linked to a great video of a Japanese carpenter sawing a log: http://www.en.charpentiers.culture.fr/treesintohouses/fromtheforesttotheworksite/pitsawing/pitsawinginjapan?media
I want his trestles! Next time I pick up some timber I’ll be getting something smaller I can hew to boxed heart 8×8 for heavy trestles. Oh, wait that wasn’t the link that I was thinking about. In any case I used a guide for the start of the cut.
Should I point out how epic it is to be sawing horizontally? I don’t know, it like a revolution for me, not to be vertical. It really changes everything.
To cut off one board at a time, to really be able to focus on each board face cut, its dramatic. And useful! Not to be constantly moving the log. I’m cutting this one to 2″ slabs. It took me quite a while to get a proper posture for holding the saw. The hand higher up the handle holds the saw plate itself. For the best control I laid my thumb along the back spine of the plate. Doing anything the same way for a long time gets fatiguing, so you have to change it up every once in a while, try new things. Your body figures it out or you injure yourself, so its fairly self correcting.
I was worried that having the plate ride against the lower side of the kerf would make it difficult to cut to the line. Oddly enough its actually easier to be accurate sawing horizontally. I mean, dramatically better quality of cut. Perhaps it is harder to put power into the cut with the loss of gravity assisting in the vertical orientation, but practice and training can overcome.
So, which direction do you start the cut from? I’ve tried top to bottom, bottom to top, it doesn’t matter from the saw’s perspective. What does matter is not pissing into the wind. What I mean is to saw such that the wind carries the saw dust away from the plate. If it blows back onto the top of the plate it creates friction in the kerf, and that makes for a terrible time sawing. Binding of any kind, avoid it like the plague, be it from pitch build up, wandering off the line, warping boards, poor wedge technique. The sawing is fun and easy when the plate rides lightly in the kerf. The only time its impossible to avoid a bit of binding is sometimes at the start of the cut before the plate is deep enough to get wedges in there. Sometimes the boards just really want to clamp together, other times its because you didn’t start the cut in plane and bind as you correct back to the line. In any case, its a serious pain in the ass with the super deep plate of the maebiki-oga. A frame saw has its advantages too.
How could I not talk about sharpening the saw? I thought I had a grasp on edge wear with my maeiki-oga. The 16″ cuts for this log taught me a serious lesson. With an eight inch cut the maebiki-oga eats through that shit, even when less than perfectly fresh. Its a question of force per unit area, you know? So for a heavy cut, you feel it right away when the saw is a little dull. It took at times several sharpenings to get through a board, simply because a saw that is a little bit dull is no good in a heavy cut, it just doesn’t remove the material the right way. The knots are not kind to the edges of the saw either. Not to mention how much effort it saves. And my body always appreciates the rest to sharpen the saw.
Going through a knot? The saw will not let you miss it. I can almost draw the board for you while I’m sawing it.
Well, there’s more to it then that which I had hoped to convey. I guess in the end you’ll figure it out if you put the time into it. I struggle at times to find a context for the amount of time I’m putting in to learning the use of this saw. As hard as the work is physically, its almost beside the point, I just seem to love the kobiki work. My bandsaw blade gave up the fight today and I just sighed, went back to the wall and picked up my maebiki-oga. A century of life for a tool that just keeps on giving with every sharpening.