Photo: Jamie KrausWell, now that I’ve told you about some of the wonderful world of rigging, let’s look at the other half of my job title: Carpentry. Oh, wait…still more rigging this week? Awesome. You know, I dreamed a dream in time gone by…that my life would be so different from this…gotcha! Rigging isn’t a hell; it’s actually pretty fun. I just want more variety in my work day, is that so wrong?

Well, I did get to mix it up this week. My task was fairly simple in nature: it was a lot of wood cutting, a little steel cutting, and laying it all out in a jig, or jigging it out.

“Getting jiggy with it.”

So, at some point in the week, I was relieved from rigging duty, and the other two Carpentry/Rigging interns were taken off carpentry and, in my stead, thrown into rigging (HAHA!). My marching orders were outlined on a sheet of paper: varying lengths needed to be cut from wood and steel.

Wood used for most anything comes in specific sizes. My sizes for the day were 2x4s and 1x4s. To get these pieces down to size, we rip them down, which means we cut the wood along the grain to a smaller width on the table saw. Next, we cut the desired length across the grain on a “radial arm” or “chop” saw. The table saw can also be used for cross grain cuts, but because it is more difficult when the wood is longer, we use the radial arm saw. Considering the length and weight of the wood, it is advisable to have someone aid you when cutting plywood across the grain.

Now that we have our wood cut (who am I, Bob Vila?) it’s time for the word of the day (or maybe I’m Ruby Rhod). Today’s word is “repetition,” the act of repetitively doing repetitive things with a repetitious result while expecting a repeated outcome. (See what I did there?) I have found that is much of what woodworking is: repetition. After cutting all these 2x4s and 1x4s, I had two specialty cuts to make: “routing” and drilling out “dowel holes.” (Technically the second one isn’t a cut, but bear with me here.) These are difficult cuts because the only way to ensure their accuracy, especially in high repetition, is to create jigs (basically a custom-made sling, or a holder that keeps wood in a specific location). Routing is used for a variety of reasons, for example, to round edges or to make grooves or “flutes” in the body of wood. The jig is used to keep the lines straight and aligned at the measurement required, so it takes a lot of fine-tuning before the jig is ready to cut the wood…

Which takes a while…

And can get a bit irksome.

But, it’s part of the job.

Photo: Jamie KrausThe jig for the drill press is easier to use because it requires less tinkering. (The drill press is a machine that drills precise, straight holes into wood or metal, basically removing human error.) The jig for this merely needs to ensure that all the pieces (which are the same size) stay in place and get drilled in the desired place. Upside: far less tinkering. Downside: terribly, horribly repetitious.

Since I’ve run over this post’s word limit, you’ll have to join me for parts 2 and 3 to see how this little adventure ends.

2 Thoughts on “Intern Insights: Carpentry Pt. 1”

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