Chapter 26 – The Lumber
In order to make a village develop, what kind of lifestyle must the villagers lead? What kind of tools would help?
Eiji, who had begun this sort of investigation, moved toward his first direction, Philip’s place.
Besides Tanya, Philip was the person who has offered the most cooperation for Eiji since the beginning.
Were it not for him, Eiji wouldn’t have been able to make the furnace, nor find the iron ores.
Furthermore, it was probably troublesome for him to provide Eiji with lumber as a source of fuel.
That fact, however, hadn’t changed even after Eiji acquired the position of a blacksmith.
He wanted to become this village’s strength as much as possible, and supposedly be able to make use of his own skills and wisdom.
While bracing himself, Eiji climbed the riverbank, going toward the forester’s lodge. He could feel that the atmosphere was changing.
The scent of the grass turned into the one coming from the forest. Together with the cries of bugs and birds, the sounds of wild animals pushing through the bushes were reverberating.
It seemed as though the velvet from the leaf mold was running along the sides of the path little by little, instead of the grass.
As he continued to climb the slope, his body temperature increased.
Sweating inside his overcoat and breathing out the air from exhaustion, Eiji finally reached the destination.
In front of the barn, a single cow was standing same as the previous time.
Even though the weather was quite chilly, the cow continued to eat the grass with its usual appearance.
Its rotund eyes grasped Eiji and wouldn’t separate from him.
Not even the slightest sign of caution could be felt from it.
The cow seemed to be taking kindly to people, and its tail was swinging side to side.
…Speaking of which, recently I haven’t a chance to taste a steak – he thought while having the image of a piping hot steak overlapping with the cow in front of his eyes.
The cow was shivering from fear, which Eiji noticed.
– Sorry, sorry. I don’t plan to eat you.
Standing right in front of the cow, which backed off, trembling with fear, Eiji gazed at the barn.
There were numerous logs piled up in rows inside the barn, whereas next to them, the ones with removed branches were accumulated.
The wood characteristic fragrance, which was pleasant, hung in the air near Eiji’s vicinity.
As he took a deep breath, it seemed as though his heart was calmed down.
Together with the rustling sound of grass, a big object was drawing near him.
At first, Eiji was able to prepare himself, thinking it was a big bear; nevertheless, what appeared from between the trees was Philip, who had a nata hanging from his waist and shouldered a hatchet.
What’s more, there was a straw rope tied to his waist, pulling wood behind him.
-L-Long time no see.
– Long time no see Philip-san. That’s an incredible amount of wood, isn’t it? Is that what you’ve just felled.
– No. I left all of these to dry three days ago, so as to make them become lighter.
Rustle rustle – the sound of the rustling grass could be heard as the lumber was sliding and rolling.
Had he been pulling all of that alone…? It was a tremendous power coming from his legs and loins.
Philip, who hadn’t been seen for a long time, looked big as always.
His almost 2 meter height gave out the impression of the existence which could overwhelm whatever stood in its way.
While moving his scraggly beard near near his mouth, Philip spoke.
– Because the amount of wood has increased, there is not enough time to let the lumber rest.
– It’s because of me, isn’t it? I’m sorry for that.
– …Fine. That’s fine. Thanks to that, my tool was improved.
– Since then, how has it felt while using the hatchet?
– Truly nice. Still, it’s inconvenient when I have to cut down trees with slanted surfaces.
– That’s because it’s not double-edged, isn’t it? I’ll make it this time.
Philip, who was trying to endure while saying ‘I look forward to it’, smiled with his whole face.
It was sort of a pristine smile, where his intimidating air vanished like a joke.
Wasn’t that unfair? If someone were to be given such a smile, they would become motivated, wanting to make the tool quickly.
Even craftsmen are humans.
Despite Eiji working with all his might on a daily basis, he couldn’t resist.
Because it was rare for Eiji to receive such a genuine evaluation for his tools, he wanted to respond to Philip’s glad reaction.
– After cutting trees, how do you process them?
– I use the hatchet to cut branches, and then peel off the bark with a scythe.
– How do you split the wood?
Philip showed his execution in practice.
What he held in his hands were a wooden hammer and a bronze-made wedge.
As he stood in front of the log with its bark removed, he carefully watched it. The atmosphere froze for a moment.
What is he looking at? – wondered Eiji.
Thinking suspiciously, Eiji couldn’t convert his thoughts into the words. Philip focused all his nerves on the log.
The silence continued for a moment. While moving around the log, he continued to observe the log. Eiji could finally predict what Philip was looking for.
He was observing the grain of the wood.
The so-called annual tree ring doesn’t consist of regular circle intervals. Depending on the object, its circles can twist and incline, running while meandering.
Once Philip fixedly put the log near his leg, he gently placed the wedge on it.
Kon kon – together with the sound of the wood, he slightly drove in the wedge with unexpectedly quick movements.
Changing places, the sound of the wood hammer echoed several times, just like the wedge.
While confirming the places, Philip nodded to himself each time there was no problem and swung again with the wooden hammer. The slightly driven wedge began to deepen.
After he drove more than a halfway, Philip distanced himself from the log.
– With this, we will lay it down for one evening. If we leave it alone, it will split on its own.
– Will it split straightforwardly?
– Depending on the wood, it might not.
– What do you do in that case?
– We try not to cut it down as much as possible. The time needed to cut it down completely isn’t that long, so we can choose when to cut it down straightforwardly or not.
– I see.
With many years of polishing the skills, perhaps one could guess the grain of the wood to a certain level, even if it’s covered in bark.
Eiji approached the log and checked the wedge.
Depending on the difference in the atmospheric temperature, the wood swells and shrinks, which probably would cause it to split within a specific time. This technique is called split woodworking.
The head of the wedge was crushed and had the angle frayed due to it being unable to endure the blows, which piled up multiple times. It was probably because of the harmful result caused by the tender bronze.
– My father used a stone instead. Once it became my turn, I got this from the village.
– That’s probably because the stone would immediately crack, wouldn’t it?
With its simplistic form, it would wear off after few times of processing.
In that case, there was something that Eiji could make.
Something that is easy to operate and would assist Philip, who had the tendency to place burden on objects.
What was needed was a saw after that.
Using a wedge to drive in a log was perhaps more efficient for the wood to split straightforwardly, just as Philip said.
However, using a saw would make the work be done within few minutes in comparison to this method.
Considering the time it takes to place a wedge on every single wood log, it was probably essential to choose the right method, which would match the lumber material, as well as taking into account its elasticity.
There is a tool called a framed pit saw. It’s an insanely huge saw used by a type of workers known as sawyers, who also specialize in lumbering trees and processing it into wood. Since it’s big, the length of its blade may even reach 1m.
The blade curves from its handgrip, making a shape of a へ letter. Its thickness is about 3mm, whereas, its weight – 4 kilos. For people, who had never seen such a saw, it would be a rather surprising one.
Eiji handed the normal-type saw he made to Fernando. However, he rarely saw it in action, which makes it looks like a tool that is bound to be forgotten. Were it not for Eiji seeing the actual working scenery now, he probably wouldn’t be able to recall it. That’s why, it was crucial for him to move around the tools from time to time.
Grasping the meaning of studying and observing other’s jobs more and more, Eiji became ready to carry out the advanced preparations for the next tool for Philip.
Suddenly, Philip’s gaze moved away from Eiji.
Just what he was looking at – while he thought so, a person was climbing the bottom of the slope.
As the distance kept reducing, it became clear that it was Fernando.
– Oh, isn’t that Eiji?
– Fernando-san, it’s rare to meet you here.
– That would probably be your case. I often come here. Even though Philip supplies me with the right lumber, I still have to select them, you see. Today as well, I came at my own discretion to choose the lumber, which would become the right material for making beams and pillars of the cattle shed that you have suggested.
– By the way, what type wood are you looking for?
– The one from an oak tree.
Among the lumber stored inside the barn, it was the one with exceptional length.
Was it because it had been raised in favorable conditions? The lumber, which grew straightly, looked unusually stunning.
It was amazing. You could feel the divine strength coming from it.
If it was in the era from which Eiji came, the tree would probably be preserved due to its scarcity.
– You mean this one?…It is huge, isn’t it?
– I wonder, how long did it take for it to grow?
– Probably around 300 something years.
– That’s amazing. Fernando-san, where do you intend to use this oak?
– For beams. I wonder, was this length good enough for making pillars?
– Yes. It was sufficient for my household.
– But, was it intended for gathering all the village’s cattle in one place?…It’s going to become an unbelievably enormous thing.
– If you need wood, I’d rather you tell me earlier.
– How long will it actually take to build?
– If fast, half a year. Generally, it would take a whole year. In case of a long time – there are ones which take even 3 years.
– Do not fret. I don’t cut the trees so as to match them to things I create. I construct buildings, which were once trees.
One could feel the spirit of a craftsman coming from Fernando’s words.
He was a clever guy who had a tendency toward profits, but he knew how to be good-looking in situations like this.
He would usually complain no matter how difficult a request was; nevertheless, he would often get through his work properly.
– Furthermore, with a saw and a plane, whatever tree it is, the work will progress smoothly.
Hearing Fernando’s powerful words, Eiji became glad, knowing that it was something to be done thanks to his tools.
That was the first step of the cattle shed building plan.
Like that, the materials for beam construction were settled.