Planes Over Saws

Part of what gives me great joy working with wood is the feel of it.

The sensation that travels through your hands up into your arms as a blade from a plane or a chisel parts the fibers of the wood, which pushes back, sending its own messages to the tool, which I interpret as suggestions of a better direction to take or the need for a different angle of approach.

Slight differences in what you do vary these small vibrations in between the knuckles of your hands, and you can feel the wood talking.

The wood has a story it likes to tell to the steel.

Change from a Jack Plane to a chisel and the wood repeats that story, this time putting it another way. Change the size of chisel you are using and it’s a bit like playing an instrument at a different octave.

I don’t hardly make this out yet when sawing. There is some very faint whispering as the teeth push across or between row after row of fibers, but it’s still too faint for me to make anything out.

When I grasp my No. 5 Jack though, each part of a board I can tell is saying something a little different.

I think if I could speak tree I’d know it was relating its life story, an autobiography about how this one year the Winter was colder than normal, so the snow never melted but weighed upon a branch for months, until the storm came with the strong relentless wind going South.

But I don’t really know what is being said. I just keep on listening, with my knuckles not my ears, to the vibrations going back and forth between the steel and the wood, pleased to be able to eavesdrop at all.

Maybe eventually, if I keep at it I’ll be able to get this feeling using a saw. And maybe over time I’ll pick up on enough snippets of conversation that I will have at least some clue what is really being said between the wood and the steel.

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2 Responses to Planes Over Saws

  1. One of the most satisfying things to me is the growl of my 7 tpi Disston ripping down a line. It tells me I’ve got the saw at the right angle, I can see it tracking a line, and it moves down with speed. Take that same saw to do a cross cut and the love is gone.

    Liked by 1 person

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