Thursday, 14 November 2013

Log conversion the traditional way

Very few people in the western world regularly use a ripsaw to convert timber these days, but it is still common practise in India. Pintso took Lucy and I up to the Buddhist monastery that was being rebuilt near his village, we passed these two men working in the jungle. They were hired to convert a load of trees that had grown up on an abandoned rice terrace. These planks were for a house just up the hill. When I say hill, I mean mountain, everything is either very steeply up or down.










 This is a covered saw pit for when it rains
 The sawyers stayed onsite for the duration of the works. Accommodation is a tarp each and a very uncomfortable looking sleeping platform, plus a few pots and pans etc.

The one thing that I noticed straight away when watching these sawyers work was the pace they worked. It was relaxed, and rightly so if you are spending days at the same job. The most interesting action that these craftsmen performed was that with every stroke they relaxed their hands. Watch the video and you will see this clearly. I think this is something that we should all take note of. When we learn something new we tend to tense up. This tension can become embodied and we never learn to relax properly. Over gripping or holding on too tight can obviously cause strains and injuries to our bodies, especially after years of doing it.



 When using the push knife to make fan birds I grip it too tightly, this has become habit. I have to consciously relax my hands at the end of each push. To be honest this does not yet feel natural but I have to embody this new habit otherwise I could at some future date find I have damaged my hands. Watching the pace and how relaxed these guys are working, was a pleasure, as is watching anyone at the top of there game.
 The planks never seemed to be stickered and I often saw planks left upright in the sun to dry. I shocked my hosts by saying that the wood that I saw being converted would take between 1 and 3 years to be seasoned and ready for use in the UK. Even more shock when I said that trees took between 50 and 150 years to grow before they were ready for felling.