A February post talks about saw teeth, how they are all set at a tiny angle, one to the left, the next to the right, off center. The teeth, then, are wider, just a little little bit, than the rest of the blade.
Some cuts are made with guides. Starting out, I used a guide for almost all my cuts. Now I use a guide for miter cuts only. Guides are wooden because it’s easy to run the saw into the guide, and a metal guide would dull or chip the teeth. The downside to a wood guide is that a wonky cut can tear up the guide and ruin it. That’s okay though, a quick pass on the table saw fixes it right up. I guess that puts guides in the long-term disposable tool category, like how edge tools get sharpened away to a handle. Very slow ice cream bars. All guides have two parts: a long flat part with an edge to ride the saw along, and a short, wide part to hold the guide steady against the work. The shape of the long flat part and the relationship between it and the short, wide part determine the cut.
When I started using guides I tried holding the saw firmly against the guide’s edge because I thought pressing would keep the saw’s path regular. The saws have flexible blades though, even the dozuki noko, with its metal spine—and the fact that the blade is flexible, together with the fact that the blade is skinnier than the teeth’s set, means that pressing the saw blade against the guide causes the teeth to curve. The blade bends away from the guide and the kerf ends up an arc or a diagonal.
The guide’s not for pressing I guess, it is more like a quiet suggestion. The saw almost doesn’t touch it. Almost? I don’t know. I think the saw-guide gap is like a magic place, it only exists a little bit, like maybe if you wanted to get to a fairy kingdom you could try going by way of sawing with a guide. (That sentence’s syntax is b/c my dad used to read me Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! by Dr. Seuss: “If you like you can go by lion’s tail, or stamp yourself, and go by mail!”) I guess you hold the guide at the line, position your nose along the saw’s path, hold your sawing arm at your side, place your hand near the saw’s handle’s end, go for it trying to keep the saw straight and bounding that crazy gap, and then hope for the best.
Ugh, I don’t want all these posts to just turn into like “Something about woodworking! A metaphor!” but that is how it feels a lot—sawing with a guide is a good lesson for me about how trying should be. My tendency is to think that trying harder will get better results, or pressing harder will keep the cut regular. I think what I am learning is—not profound!, simple and obvious but learning it is helping me…—strength and looseness can work together. Or, Taylor and Joshua both’d say, “Hurry up and slow down!” That sentence is like a line in a Donne poem I read this morning called “The Good-Morrow”: “My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,”. I think there are four experiences in that sentence? He sees his face reflected in her pupils, she sees her face reflected in his pupils, he sees her face, she sees his face? Then though, there are four terms: my face, thine eye, thine, mine—and the four terms aren’t the four experiences. Maybe what I want to learn is like what that space is between the four terms and the four experiences, it feels a lot like the saw-guide gap.