Yer old friend the cross-cut saw; its part in my downfall
My Grandfather owned a couple of traditional crosscut saws and whenever we went to visit him, my brother and I would be put to work sawing logs for the fire. It was hard graft and my Grandfather would always be close by, exhorting us to put our backs into it or to stop ‘tickling’ the logs. Occasionally he’d mutter something about it making men of us. I always enjoyed it though.
We recently had a woodburning stove installed, it makes sense, what with the price of gas and and all the wood available close by, much of it from trees blown over in the storms we had two years back. Of course, everything I forage has to be sawn into logs and split so I’ve bought a traditional three and a half foot long crosscut saw made by E Garlick and Sons. Its a beauty and I’ve discovered that after many years I still enjoy sawing logs.
Even though I own a chainsaw I hardly ever use it. My grandfather believed that such a device had no place in a gentleman’s toolshed. My objections have more to do with the fact that on a ratio of actual usage time to maintenance time its less efficient than the spinning jenny or Stevenson’s Rocket. Besides, with my new saw I have already created a woodpile that now runs almost the length of my house, in fact pretty soon I’ll need to build a proper covered woodstore. I’m going to make it from some old fence posts that I retrieved from the logging trail in the forest.
Not all of the wood I’ve collected is immediately usable and there are some big ugly chunks that won’t fit into the stove. I can however, burn them in the firepit to make charcoal – there’s a really easy to follow youtube clip on it – then I can use the charcoal to fire the smokehouse I want to build for curing meat. In fact, everywhere I look are opportunities to de-technify my life while making enormous financial savings; pine oil lanterns, an earth oven, a beehive, a composter, sawbench, logbarrow, bucksaw, rainwater butt, canoe rack…
The trouble is, that while with a bit of effort I can make myself all manner of woodsmanly gizmos the one thing I can’t produce is any more time. Of course I could sleep less and tell my wife ‘I’ll be up in a bit Love, just going out to the garage for a minute,’ before spending half the night fashioning a becomingly crooked chimney for the meat smoker.
Or I could spend less time with the kids at the weekend ‘Sorry lads, daddy really needs to finish making this soup can miniforge otherwise I won’t be able to turn this old file into a … drawknife, its pretty important,’ I could then discourage further discussion by slamming the shed door. Or I could take the odd day off work, ‘Yeah, not going to make it in today, absolutely loaded with the cold…’ before getting stuck into mounting the flywheel for my foot treadle powered wood lathe.
Before I know it the garden will have disappeared beneath a shanty of rickety structures roofed in tin and by the time I get to the piece de resistance – the authentic frontier style log cabin with full length verandah, there will be nobody left to make excuses to and I’ll end up hunkered down inside it all winter, bearded and filthy, guarding my stockpile of pickled eggs and beetroot with a homemade crossbow.
I guess the key to attempting to ‘simplify’ my life in this way is in deciding at what point the advantages of never again having to buy honey, pickled beetroot or charcoal outweigh the risks of divorce, redundancy and infrequent personal hygiene.