Happy hump day all y’all! I’ve worked for a week at my job handling wood now, and I’ve come up with a list of imperative dos and don’ts you need to follow, should you ever find yourself surrounded by wood.
When it comes to wood, size is everything – so much so, in fact, that if a piece of wood is off by more than three millimetres, it has to be recut. There’s an age-old adage that says something like “measure twice, cut once” – I didn’t bother looking up the exact words – but that’s actually an understatement if anything; you really need to measure five times, cut once, then measure the wood you cut to make sure it’s right. Also continue to measure periodically, as the blocks tend to shift slightly, and 1mm is all it will take to ruin you. My saw partner and I spent two hours yesterday unstacking a pallet of cut wood to shave off five millimetres from the ends, because the kids who cut it weren’t careful. New saying: measure all the times, and then cut.
Handling wood can be messy.
I learned this extremely obvious one the hard way. On my first day on the job, I wore my other pair of jeans – for the record, I had two pairs: my black ones I wear every day, and some blue ones; I’ve since bought more – and they immediately went from nice jeans, to work jeans only. Little wood pellets, sawdust, dirt, and paint now adorn my formerly-classy jeans – and even a quick rinse in the washer won’t fix that now.
Wear the proper protection.
Well this is a classic one. When dealing with wood, it’s necessary to use protection for your safety, as well as the safety of those around you. The people in charge say that, when you’re cutting and stacking wood, you don’t need to wear safety glasses, just ear plugs. False. I can’t count the amount of times –okay it’s seven – where I’ve had to stop because a bit of dust leapt off the wood right into my eye. It doesn’t help that we have giant doors there, and the wind blows through them all day every day. I also went about ten minutes on my first day without gloves; that was dumb. So, so dumb.
Be gentle but firm with the wood.
If you’re getting the wood onto the belt in order to cut it, there’s a technique to it. You have to use physics and science and whatnot to swing it on. However, if you do this too violently, the long-ass wood will snap, which is really damn inconvenient. You have to roll the wood, coax the wood, but you can’t let it rule you. When stacking cut wood into piles, it’s okay to kick it into place, but not too hard. Your steel-toe boots can damage the poor thing.
Don’t try to handle too much wood by yourself.
The biggest wood I’ve had to handle thus far was planks of the stuff measuring 3.6 metres. That’s pretty long wood. Since the planks are relatively thin, handling one is no problem; however, if there are two or three stacked on each other, I need my partner’s help. It’s important not to try to take on more wood than you can handle, because it can cause things to get messy and slow down production. Remember: don’t be afraid to ask your partner for help handling large loads of wood.
Embrace the wood jokes.
As a worker in an all-male plant handling tons of wood, you have to be able to take the jokes that inevitably come despite you doing nothing at all to bring it upon yourself. Also, for some reason, the radio station on in the factory – side note, it’s called myFM…weird! – always plays Timber by Pitbull featuring Ke$ha (did I spell that right?), and when it comes on, it’s appropriate to do anything from smirking when she yells timber, to singing and dancing along with the song. As long as the boss isn’t around, anyways.
Follow along with my adventures with wood!