June 25th, 2008  |  Filed under Building BRC

The Cutting Crew

June 25th, 2008  |  Filed under Building BRC
Red Ryan saws a ring

Photograph by Ben Stoelting

Black Rock Station, NV. June 22nd, 2008 – The Black Rock Playa is known for its strong winds, and the all-encompassing dust storms that they bring. But there’s no wind today, and yet here, at nearby Black Rock Station, there’s already a thick layer of dust covering everything. Sawdust, that is.

Today, cutting has begun in earnest. All of the Man’s many curved pieces – from the circular rings that define its arms and legs, to the varying ellipses of the ribs – must be cut by hand. That’s a lot of cutting, especially since every piece needs to be two sheets of plywood thick. As a result of all this jigsaw work, small snowdrifts of sawdust are piling up all over the shop, and everyone and everything is slowly getting covered in a fine woodsy powder. The cutters work in groups of three: one clamping the workpiece, one guiding the jigsaw, and a third blowing air to clean the fresh sawdust away. This last step helps the cutter see the scribed line, so they can maintain as smooth and accurate a curve as possible. The Krew rotates through these tasks so that no one gets too tired, and so everyone has a chance to cut a ring, or a rib.

Outside, the weather is back to normal: hot and dry, and also very hot. And dry. Just as on the playa proper, dehydration is a serious concern, particularly when engaged in physical labor. Crew Chef Exact Lee makes sure there are plenty of fluids available, and frequently reminds the Krew members to keep drinking. Which is appreciated, because on a day like today, when everyone is really getting into the rhythm of their work, it’s easy to fall into a groove and forget to hydrate.

The ellipse jig we built yesterday has warped a bit overnight – the arid desert environment is hell on wood, especially ply – necessitating another round of sanding and waxing. Once that’s done though, the jig performs admirably, allowing us to scribe the elegant lines of the ribs and shoulder in such a way as to maximize the surface area of each sheet of plywood. Once scribed, the rib sheets are passed to the cutters, who work their curvy, dusty magic. With all the power tool use today, the metal walls of the workshop have begun to resonate like a single, sustained fuzz guitar chord. It’s a fitting soundtrack, as this Krew totally rocks!

3 Responses to “The Cutting Crew”

  1. Colin Says:

    Nice note to end on!

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  2. Kat Says:

    Oh, how fun! Do you feel like you are “more together” now? Keep up the good work everyone :)

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  3. K-Dog1 Says:

    Nice blog. Keeps a burner up todate with the action. I’m looking forward to reading more.

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