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Zen and the Art of Using a Chainsaw

Well, I've been thinking. And monitoring the crack of the chimney. It seems to be stable and safe - no hot air nor smoke getting through. Currently I have an electric radiator in the main room to provide some basic warmth. With that I can use the stove only for short periods while cooking. I've been heating the fireplace in the smaller room once a day - the fireplace will anyway store some of the warmth for nearly 24 hours. Also, I think it is better to regularly heat the fireplace, and to avoid such situations when the parallel chimney would be all cold, and the main chimney getting warmer and warmer - causing the difference in thermal extension to worsen the crack. Also, the outdoor temperature rose to +2°C, with almost clear sky and calm winds. Ideal weather for working outdoors.

Yesterday I was working with renovating the entrance hall, and today I continued the work. Usually I like to work with traditional hand tools. But now I chose to use chainsaw for couple of tasks. Chainsaw is a powerful tool, I got those things done quickly. And I was thinking why I dislike chainsaw - it is not only the noise and the exhaust fumes. It is also that I find it hard to use chainsaw for anything which needs precision. Just a small false move, and the chainsaw will quickly cut too deep into wrong direction, ruining the precision needed. With hand tools there is always much more time to react, and false cuts happen seldom.

Now I had to work with a piece of wood which was about 15 cm * 20 cm (6" by 8"). I took the chainsaw, feelings its weight in my hands. It came to my mind that a while ago I read an article in which they said that a golf swing is best performed when you don't think about it - that's because your conscious effort to control the movement is interfering with the signals coming from other areas of brains. And if you have practiced enough, those subconscious areas of brain already know better how to perform the optimal swing with a golf club, so better just relax and let your body work the way it knows best. Well, my distaste of chainsaw might be related to this - if I worry too much about getting every cut just straight, it is actually my worrying which makes my movements clumsy and imprecise. At the same time the engine of the chainsaw causes some vibration, so a firm grip is needed to control the movement of the blade. But too tight a grip will again ruin the precision, as muscles works better when they are not too rigid and tense. Often it is also necessary to smoothly adjust the throttle as needed, and that is done with the index finger. Too tight a grip with the other fingers, and the movements of the index finger become more like "on / off", instead of a fine and smooth adjustement.

When cutting down trees with a chainsaw it doesn't matter so much if the cut is one centimeter higher or lower than intended - the tree will sure fall down anyway. And I guess doing such a coarse work has been good exercise for me. My body and brain already knows how much force is needed to firmly grip the chainsaw, and how the small movements of my hands alter the movement of the tip of the blade. So I was able just to relax, breathing easily, not worrying too much. Well, not everything went perfectly, but still - everything what I did with the chainsaw turned out to be good enough.

During the day I paid more attention to the way I use my body. And maybe it doesn't come as a surprise that it is the same with all the other tools, too. Be it a chisel and a hammer, a handsaw, or an electric drill - the work gets clumsy and prone to mistakes if my muscles are rigid, if my shoulders rise in tension, if my mind is hurried, worried or nervous. Just the simple act of lowering my shoulders immediately improves the performance. I guess it is this same idea almost everywhere; working with the horses I have to be firm and clear without becoming tense. When coding it is essential to stay calm and relaxed, without pushing the solutions but letting the flow go on smoothly.

Oh well. At 4 pm it was already rather dark. The sky was clear and the nearly full moon provided enough light to see around. I was wearing a led light on my head, and with that I could keep on working as long as I felt like. It was bit after 9 pm when I finished for today. Maybe I'll take tomorrow's daily picture about the current structure. The new place of the door and windows is already visible, the shape is emerging =)

Ah, and one interesting little detail. I don't know if it is by purpose or not, but there have been all kinds of little things inside the old wall. Under the thermal insulation, in between the boards and the supporting structure, here and there. Today I found a knife blade, an old coin, some unidentified piece of metal, a quartz stone (split in two), a razor blade, a button (propably from a shirt) and a broken triangle-shaped metal file. Some of the items are seen in the second picture. The coin is of 5 Finnish Penni, dated 1936.

A coffee break
A coffee break
Items found when deconsturcting a wall
Items found when deconsturcting a wall
It's getting dark and the first new support post is up.
It's getting dark and the first new support post is up.
The shape of the new structure starts to emerge. Time to drink some glögg.
The shape of the new structure starts to emerge. Time to drink some glögg.
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PS. I forgot to write about this, but here goes:

Several days ago one of my neighbours visited my place, and we took a look at the entrance hall. He has considerably more experience of building and renovating. And he was kind of a suggesting to tear down the entire extension part, and then re-build it. In a way that would be easier =) As I am keeping some parts of the old structure, it also means that there are hardly no straight lines nor exact sharp angles. Each and every piece I have to measure individually, to make them fit to their place.

For example, in the third picture there is that new support post, which is light in colour. It is 4" by 4", the bottom resting on a replacement part I did yesterday, and the upper part supporting an old horizontal beam. Now, if I were building a completely new extension part, I could first measure, cut, and intall all the vertical pieces, and then place a horizontal beam on top of them. But now I first have to measure the exact distance between the lower beam and the upper beam, and then cut the 4"x4" to that same length.

I missed one post, accidentally cutting it 5mm too short. Some of the others were initially 5mm too long, but that was easy to correct by cutting just a tiny bit away. When they fit nicely, I was using a small sledge hammer to move both the lower and upper end to their desired positions.

Like, the roof is the best part of the whole entrance hall. I already replaced one vertical post in the shorter right wall. And the lower front horizontal beam was party destroyed. So, there I installed a replacement part, leaving those parts which still are fine enough. But I decided to do it this way, as now I keep the roof all the time =)

The muscle memory is a miraculous thing. Be it anything you've repeated many times like golf swings, hitting nails with a hammer or splitting firewood with an axe works a lot better if you let the body do it without thinking. If I try to hit the middle of a wood block to split it I hit off center, but when I just swing without trying I almost never miss the mark. Over thinking really messes up a routine. Anyway good luck with your house renovation and hope the weather stays favorable.

Yup. It is a funny thing, as this smooth and nice state of "don't think about it, just relax and let your movements flow" might be hidden behind a door and a passage which says "put some consciouss effort in the boring and repetivie practice, pay attention to the details of your movement, do it again and again." But pretty soon one reaches a point where conscious effort just messes up a routine as you say.

The actual muscle mass memory space is really a remarkable point. Whether it is anything at all you have repetitive often such as golfing ups and downs, striking fingernails having a sludge hammer or even dividing fire wood having an responsable functions much better in case you allow the entire body get it done not having thought. Basically attempt to strike the center of the wooden prevent in order to divided this We strike away middle, an excellent I simply golf swing without having attempting We rarely skip the actual tag. More than considering truly interferes upward the program. Anyhow best of luck together with your home restoration as well as wish the elements remains beneficial.

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