31: A tale of two saws, part 1

As previous blog cabin chapters show and tell, so far, I've been somewhat reliant on a chainsaw to fell trees, even notching the first two logs with my big Husky instead of the hand tools I've been using since. Even with the adze and hatchet, I've been using a power saw to cut the center of each notch, before chipping it out more archaically.

Nothing ruins the sensation of creating something with your hands more than pulling a cord and hearing a gas motor. Using the right tool and seeing quick progress is rewarding in any medium, but I've felt like I needed to find a better way, especially since this is a process I'll have to repeat 70-100 times before the walls are complete.

So I started researching crosscut saws. I learned quickly that they're a complex matter -- easy to find but not in the elusive form you need to cut efficiently, effectively, and with fast results. Their teeth patterns are unique to different types of wood and cutting. They're all old, and many saws are pitted with rust that prevents easy pulling. They must be the right length, thickness, and model for the job at hand. Most importantly, they have to be sharpened correctly, and this is seemingly a lost art practiced by only a few.

I bought one from Mr. Marion Jones at Jones Country Store in downtown Sylva. It was old but never used, still in the box. The teeth looked fine to me, not broken or chipped. But it was dull, never having been set and honed by a sharpener.

I asked around, and no builder or craftsman that I know could tell me who might still know how to sharpen a crosscut saw. Then, I learned that a Mr. R.O. Wilson had exhibited the use of such saws at Mountain Heritage Day, some years before. I quickly found these references to the man in Google:
from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mountainheritageday/page5/

And you can here his voice here on January 24, 2009, talking about planting by the signs, at minute 11:40 of Stories of Mountain Folk

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I use this blog to chronicle certain aspects of my life near the Smokies. I'm building a cabin. I kayak. Sometimes I bike.