Lachie uses a Stihl Magnum M5 661C chainsaw as the cutting agent, with the log lain out on a Logosol M8 Sawmill. A 45yo gantry hoist designed by a friend of his grandfather provides the lifting heft to swing the sugar gum logs on and off the saw bench. These three items are capable of handling logs up to five metres in length and 60cm in diameter – more than enough to build a house.
“It’s empowering once you master the skills,” says Lachie. “You can cut anything you need for a hut or house on your own.”
Like any craft, the truly limiting factors are the hours and hours of dedication required to acquire the cutting skills and the physical strength to turn logs around and heave them onto trolleys. The old, slow ways are not for the desk bound.
It’s just six weeks since the trees were felled and the wood is still moist and responsive. Lachie guesstimates that green wood is four times easier to cut, drill and chisel than inert and inflexible kiln-dried timber. The downside is that it shrinks and splits more easily. Not a viable option for the ‘perfect’ finish, but fine for the rugged splendour of the 21C drop slab hut.
Lachie is assembling all the hut’s components off site. He’s crafting a jigsaw in his back yard and won’t put all the pieces together until they are freighted to the clearing in the ImLal biorich plantation.
Back in his yard, Lachie sets the sawn 175mm square posts and 150mm beams straddling a series of saw horses. He begins preparing them in keeping with the ancient mortise (old French for hole) and tenon (tongue) pattern. Chiselled and shaped beam ends will slot into grooves on post tops. Holes are drilled through each post’s tenon and corresponding mortise.
When assembled on site, a wooden peg will be hammered through each hole, wedding beams and posts together into a sturdy frame. Like people standing in a line, their outstretched arms on top of each other’s shoulders.