Woodwork

Well, it’s been awhile, but time to fill the woodshed. April and spring weather is here. We got our first sprinkles in a couple weeks today.

I built the wood shed last summer. It was my first real woodshed. Prior attempts were piling wood on pallets with tarps over the top, and that was certainly hit and miss for good wood drying.

We used wood from about exactly half the woodshed this winter, so unbeknownst to me, the shed seems like the perfect size. I should be able to dry wood for a year and a half before I use it.

I got out my saws. Both are Stihls. One is an 028 my dad bought me when I came to Alaska in 1983. The other I bought from Ron when he left town – an 041. It’s older than the 028, I assume, since it has no chain brake like the 028 has. It took about 10 pulls for each saw, and each sprang to life. Amazing. They’ve been sitting for at least a year, maybe 2.

The chains were in various degrees of dullness. I have bought about every type of sharpening device ever made, and I still cannot sharpen a chain very well. It’s one outdoorsman skill I have not mastered, along with sharpening a knife on a stone. I took the chains out to Don Abel, where the manager is the best chain sharpener I’ve ever been around. That was a week ago. Like most businesses, they are short handed. And this is thatching season. Which I didn’t know. They are busy renting and rerenting thatching machines like crazy. So no time yet as of today to sharpen my chains.

So, I stopped by Tyler Rental with the 041, and the tech lined me out with a new chain. He asked several questions I didn’t really know- like did I want an aggressive chain?  I had him explain what these terms met. In the end, he said the standard chain was best for me. So the standard chain, it is.

I got home, and put the new chain on the bar. Managed to knick myself on the finger with the chain. Dang, they are sharp out of the box.

I took the saw up to the wood pile, along with my 16″ inch stick and some chalk. I moved a couple logs into position with the peevee, marked out my cuts on a couple logs like my dad showed me with the stick and chalk, then cleaned where the saw would cut with my heavy gloves, either removing bark or sweeping any sand or stones away.

I put on my ear muffs with face screen, my heavy leather gloves, and cranked up the saw.

I was careful to only cut part way through each log, then roll it and cut through the top. I’m alot more careful now than in my younger years to keep the chain sharp. Especially knowing I suck at trying to sharpen one.

I had bucked up several logs when Bob showed up. I shut down the saw, and we caught up. He was just back from working in Bethel. When I told him of my chain woes, he said he had a sharpener and could make the chains razor sharp. Why do good friends keep secrets like this?  I’m guessing he’s told me this in the past- maybe even shown me the sharpening unit- but I just forgot. That seems to happen more and more these days.

After Bob left, I split several rounds, and made two trips with cart loads of wood downhill about 25 yards to the woodshed, and tossed them in. The cart is a rubbermaid cart that Bob and I found on the beach when we went hooter hunting several years ago. It’s hands down the best cart or wheelbarrow I’ve ever owned. Takes a heavy load, rolls easily, and easy to maneuver.

As I was finishing stacking the two loads, Kurt showed up. Then Sara right behind him. So we went in and had coffee.

When Kurt left, I decided to try tipping the rounds into the the cart, hauling them whole down to the shed, then splitting them there and tossing them in. I moved about 5 big rounds and many smaller ones down to the shed. Only one big round would fit in the cart at a time, so it took several trips.

I split the small rounds, then several of the large rounds til my arms and shoulders had had enough, tossed them into the shed, and then stacked them. I think I like this method best.

I’ll chip away at the logs till the shed is full, at which time I always feel a sense of accomplishment, but also a sense of sort of sadness, since I enjoy splitting wood about as much as any activity I do, and when I finish, it will be another year before I do it again.