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North House Timber Framing Workshop: Day Two

by Tyler

Today, I will be facing two fears I have been harboring about building our house ever since the idea started approaching reality. One, my inability to make a straight cut in anything, free-hand or otherwise, and two, the fact that I consistently measure things incorrectly no matter how many times I double check my work. Bicycle steerer tubes, wires for electronics, rope, pvc, wood, you name it, I've cut it wrong.

I am a computer programmer. I use "undo". A lot. I literally and frequently think to myself "Cmd/Ctrl-Z" when I make mistakes in real life. I think it is fair to say that I am totally overwhelmed by what we are doing right now. The plan changes we've made for our house have resulted in a slew of extra work and I have no idea if we'll be able to finish our project by Sunday.

This morning, I decided that "measure twice, cut once" was too risky for me. My woodworking mantra is now: measure twenty times, have someone else (Tara and/or Peter) check it, erase and fix the mistakes, then cut once. I'm more than a little pleased to say that this method works! I came to class today daunted by the mere idea of making a straight cut in the right place, and left having done it numerous times with a saw dang near as big as I am. Check it out.

Peter Demonstrating 16" Saw Tyler Scoring a Cut Tyler Cutting a Timber w/ 16" Saw

My measuring still sucks, but thankfully, Tara is turning out to be a whiz at marking up our timbers. Meanwhile, I can now proudly cut straight lines free-hand, with nothing but a razor-thin score line to guide my way. The slight indentation makes the wood chip away just in front of the blade, leading me seamlessly across the entire cut. I'm sure this is a totally obvious thing, but it was a revelation for me.

Oh, and returning to the topic of being a computer programmer: I am totally and completely out of shape again. So much for being a lithe world cyclist—I am utterly exhausted.

It feels great!