I walked out with my tool belt to see David looking right at me; you could almost see the light bulb above his hat. Pointing at me, he said “Will can you work my saw mill? We need twenty-five 2×4’s.” I headed straight off for my first assignment of the day.
Marshall Squires was already down to the mill with the fork equipped John Deere ready to move the logs. David calls Marshall the informal Mayor of Tinmouth. I had stayed at his place the night before, where he wife Melanie runs a bed and breakfast. Melanie does horse rescue and has somewhere around 30 horses that she takes care of, she was also at the house site to help, (she makes a most excellent cake – her first contribution of the day!). They have the covered barn where David cut out and notched, shaped, and measured all of his posts and beams for the house. It’s a hooped super structure and at the time that it was built it was the largest in the state; you could drive in there with a tractor and trailer and turn it all the way around inside the building. When I grow up, I want one!
Marshall started to dig out logs with the tractor and forks and I pulled the tarps off the mill and started to set it up for sawing. David has the same model mill as I do, but it’s about 10 years older and very different – the mechanism for rolling and clamping the logs, the hydraulic controls, the motor running the scales, all were set differently. With my mill you stay in one place and it moves back and forth on its own. With David’s mill you walk back and forth with the sawhead, up a pile of sawdust and down the other side. Plus, I don’t leave my mill in one place, I bring it to a job then clean up and leave when that job is done. David’s mill looked like it had been in one place for a long time; down in a little opening in his woods. The tossed slabs, the part of the log with the bark that you cut off on the first cut, were growing up around the mill like a wall. In this little opening were piles of logs, that had been harvested from the surrounding property for the timber to build the house.
This kind of sawing that I was doing for David is the most common type. It’s very different from the kind that I was describing in my post on ‘Selective Sawing’. That sawing that I did for Bobby Love was uncommon, where you were making the saw cut side of the log parallel with the uncut, natural side of the log – so that the uncut side would be the one that showed when the project was done. That would be easy to do if the logs grew as perfect cylinders, but the circumference changes from top to bottom and so you have to tip the log to make that final piece stay the same thickness all the way through. One thing that is the same between all the sawing is that if you put two sawyers together, they’re never going to come up with the same plan for sawing the log. Marshall finally gave me the job of the sawing and switched to tailing, taking the pieces off the mill.
He kept looking up at the building and the crane that had started lifting up the bents, which are the framework of the house, and saying “I didn’t show up at a house raising party to work the saw mill – I want to be up there!” He did stay with me ’til we had finished sawing, though he talked me into leaving the mill “set-up” instead of re-tarping it. “You never can tell, they might need to saw some more!” Within ten minutes of being back up at the house site, he was up on the highest bent 10 feet in the air right in the middle of all the activity of the house raising. He was just exactly where he wanted to be! I walked away from the hubbub up to the hill to take a picture, looking down on the building, the landscape, the surrounding trees. I could see the trees, the saw mill where I had made those same trees into 2×4’s and the construction site where those 2×4’s were becoming part of David and Nancy’s home. As mentioned in an earlier post, you’re never sure what you will find when you saw into a log, but I knew exactly the roof that those logs were going to help build and now I could see it being created down below. (Continued in Part III. . . )