Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Simplicity, Complexity of Crosscuts and Kilns





Wood for the next firing

A large pine tree fell across our walking path recently, so Levi and I spent the middle of today cutting it up into manageable pieces and hefting it out of the woods onto the bed of my pickup truck. I have an electric chain saw, so we had to use my old crosscut saw. It was quite a workout, so I skipped my planned trip to the Y.

Cutting timber with a crosscut saw requires two people to get into a rhythm. One person pulls and the other lets the blade slide in a straight line, doesn't push. When you find that rhythm, the blade does the work.

Stoking a wood-fired kiln requires a rhythm. Levi and I have fired my Manabigama several times, and we're learning that rhythm. This kiln wants to climb quickly, and you can fire it successfully by letting it climb and keep supplying it more wood, but sometimes I want to slow it down. This last firing, I wanted to reach a temperature and keep it there, but I ended up reaching maximum temperature too quickly and shutting it down before I wanted to.

I'm searching for some parallel between using a crosscut saw and stoking a kiln. We're pushing the kiln, when we need to be pulling the kiln. We haven't quite found the right rhythm to allow the kiln to do what we want it to do. The challenge is, we're still learning what the kiln can do, and what we can do with the kiln.

It's much easier to cut down a tree with a crosscut saw. What you're trying to accomplish when cutting down a tree is pretty simple. Firing a wood kiln isn't as clear cut.

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