Wilderness Ranger Mackenzie Baxter educates us on the crosscut saw:
In the past couple of weeks, Jimmy and I have been working on a presentation that we can give to folks who aren’t sure exactly what we’ve been doing in our time at the Barlow Ranger Station. To those that have inquired about my summer, usually I’ll say, “I’m a wilderness ranger, which means I’ve opened up a bunch of the wilderness trails using a crosscut saw and done some other trail maintenance” but more often than not, that doesn’t help to clarify.
Sometimes people don’t quite know what a crosscut saw (or in our case, a bucking saw) is. I sure didn’t the first time I heard of it. Basically, it’s most often a two-person saw that is several feet long. Used before power cutting tools were available (aka a chainsaw), many of the crosscut saws around today are about 100 years old. The saw we use has three different types of “teeth”, called cutters, rakers, and gullets (which are a lack of teeth). It cuts through the wood in a pretty interesting way, I think. When the saw is pulled toward the sawyer, the cutters along the saw’s surface score the wood to the left and right of the width of the blade, cutting a channel downward into the wood. After the cutters there is generally a raker which removes the wood that was scored by the cutters in a long “noodle” that scrapes out the bottom of the cut (called the kerf.) These “noodles” that get peeled out of the kerf are stored in the gullets while that portion of the saw is still within the wood, and drop out as the saw moves back and forth. There are some videos on youtube that talk and show you how this all works- check out these videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXBR1GpbmeY and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ9eYVdVd04
So- after that tangential explanation- we have been working hard on a presentation that shows in many photos and stories about our summer, which is rapidly coming to a close. The saw has been getting sharpened, and in the mean time we have been preparing and working on new trails that will be a part of the Trail Day coming up on Sept 14th. Hopefully a lot of people will be coming out to help us put the finishing touches on the new trails! It should be a blast, which a lot of energy and people having fun.
As fun as building the new trail has been (and it has- I can’t believe looking at the trail now that it was nothing but bare ground at first) I have to admit… I miss the ol’ crosscut. We got to see beautiful places, sweat and work hard, and at the end of the day, look back and see tangible evidence of what you’ve done, and then be able to fall asleep before your head hit the pillow!