The Best of 'Wood Art" #9: "Prepping the Wood" --by RusticWodArt

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Blog entry by frank posted 12-31-2007 02:25 PM 1177 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: "Expressions of Wood Milieu" --by RusticWoodArt Part 9 of The Best of 'Wood Art" series Part 10: "Polyporus betulinus" --by RusticWoodArt »

....furthering my ganders, as one would take on examining their progress in the principles of what it take to work the wood by hand! Some-times it does my soul best to just stop and take an inventory of what is happening here with the tools and the wood. Many are the stages of phases that go into the making of a piece of ‘wood art’, working the wood by hand, but there all-ways is the need to pay attention to the care and detail of my tools and wood.

Further Notes on:
Prepping the wood for entry into The Multi-Purposed 2×4.
1.) ....I have finished hand sawing, (ripping) one side of a white oak board and….
2.) ....stopping to take a look at my pull saw….
3.) ....drawing out the lines for the rip cut on the other side of the wood….
4.) ....placing a notch into the end of the wood, for as to get an accurite cut start….

I have taken the time again on this side of the white oak, to first of all draw out my lines into//on top of the board and having finished that, I next move on to examining my saw. One note that I will pass on here about the Japanese pull saw is that this saw cuts on the pull stroke, unlike the saws of the western tradition that cut on the push stroke. An explanation that I have heard on this by John Reed Fox is that ” the zen explanation is given that if you push a blade of grass between your fingers of course it buckles, but if you pull it, it becomes straight by itself.” What makes the Japanese pull saw so unique and fit for sawing such as I am doing here in the white oak, is the ease of which the straightness of the cut can be made and maintained for the length of the cut.

....before I started hand sawing on the previous side, I noticed some teeth that were missing and broken off, as one will see in this picture. Most of the breakage that occurs in the teeth will be the result of too aggressive sawing, ( not understanding that the saw does all the work, no-pressure is needed and that the hand is there only to pull the saw and the saw walls will keep the saw straight for the cut) or finding buried steel, ( nails) in the wood, such as happened here…. this next photo you will see how I will notch the end of the board so as to get an accurate cut from the start. Just an old turning chiesel which I use for paring a v-notch into the wood….

....and one more photo. I can not say enough about getting off to a right cut start at this point, as this will insure a proper tracking of the blade for the length of your cut. Once one understands the pull saw and the ease of how it cuts, that same individual will often wonder why it took so long to come around to this way of working the wood…. I have finished my first cut into the wood. Notice how at the top of the board, the saw line seems to be straying a bit to the left….I will correct this by turning the board over and micro-sliver sawing again, which will get me back on track. To pay attention to these small details now, makes the rest of that 9’ long stretch a work of ease….like slicing butter….

Well there you have it….and yes I’m trying to get this one ready and dimensioned out as a 2×4x8, (2’‘x4’‘x8’) so as to start moving with my design for ‘wood art’.

I wish all a very good new year….as I’m heading outside soon, since we have all-ready started snowing once again up here….

Thank you.

” smart, work safe, and live, to work the wood….”

-- --frank, NH,

4 comments so far

View Mark's profile


316 posts in 4127 days

#1 posted 12-31-2007 03:01 PM

It does take a while to get use to using the pull as opposed to the push stroke. I’ve started using the Japanese pull stroke saws more often over the past several months and at times I forget to let the saw do the work. Correcting a misguided cut is more difficult with these saws than the Western variety.

Have a great New Year and enjoy your wanderings in the snow.


-- Mark

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4300 days

#2 posted 12-31-2007 06:18 PM

Nice pics Frank. I do something similar with my hand cuts, except I notch the entire length of the end grain in order to lay the saw completely perpendicular to the length of the cut. It seems to work well, although, I am normally cutting just a simple length of a tenon, not 9 feet of lumber. Best wishes and a blessed new year.

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4394 days

#3 posted 12-31-2007 06:26 PM

Great tips Frank. Good luck on your construction.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 4199 days

#4 posted 01-01-2008 01:43 PM

Hello all;
—-hi Mark; ....yes I know what you mean when you mention about having trouble correcting. Which is one the reasons I leave that extra length of space there on a long run, short runs like tails and tenons, well best be getting those right from the start. I have found that once I’m into the run by 6’’ or so, if I have paid attention and set myself up right, then the run should be going true. From my experience, it’s the thin walls of the blade and the teeth that combine with the pulling action to hold these saws in line and true. Also on a long run such as I’m doing here, if my board is thick in depth and I start straying from my line….I have found I can use a rocking motion to get the saw back in-line. However if I am going to be able to do this then I must not let the deviation go beyond 1/64’’ and I will rock the pull motion more on the bottom of the board and this will bring the up-side cut back into line.

How I could ramble on about the differences in ‘western thought’ and ‘eastern thought’ concerning woodworking and the tools. Push saws….pull saws and the rhythm of the wood. What about planes, as western planes are built around the wood or sole by the plane maker and eastern planes are all about the plane iron. The eastern plane is built foremost by the blacksmith and centers around the iron which also doubles as a wedge, which rides in a jig. Why even the plane iron is laminated hard steel and a softer iron, forged by the blacksmith. And then chisels and gouges,.... and what about the pull vs. push of the saws and how this effects ones back and the different muscles used in ones body. So I have also built and adapted shorter sawhorses so that my hands, eyes and back are more in tune with the wood….and so I ramble. Great talking with you Mark, although I some-times think I might enjoy waundering around this time of year down there in Texas. Yesterday was 8’’ of more snow and then today, this evening and tonight could bring 7-13’’ more and so I’ll waunder around here and push some snow….

—-hi Rob; ....great in-put there on that tip that you use for cutting those tenons by hand. Sitting here just now, the thought just ran across my head….like how many tenons are there in a 9’ long piece of lumber….LOL?

—-hi Karson; ....thanks and yes, I hope to get to the construction soon….all-though I don’t know about luck, (come to think of it, I don’t know about hope either) as it seems it’s all in and by my hands-of-action….LOL. By the way, do you need any snow down your way?

Thank you.

-- --frank, NH,

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