Re Verse All; Chapter 118, Beam 101

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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 118:  Beam 101
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Takano 48

Having removed everything from the shopping carts, the white-haired man realized he was about to climb some distance up the ramp and, if all went as well as he could hope, spend the rest of the day there.  He had beer to drink, but they had pretty much shot the morning shopping, and he should feed these people if he expected to get any work out of them.  As usual there were restaurants near the ramp entrance, and he let Bron pick one.  It happened to be seafood, but they had fried chicken on the menu so Beam was satisfied.

He let them sit and digest for twenty minutes once they’d finished eating, and then stood to get them moving.

“This is going to take several trips.  I’m going to leave three of you down here with Bron to sort and prepare loads to go up, and the other nine will bring their tools and as much of this stuff as we can carry with me to the work site.  I’ll keep three of you topside with me to help organize stuff, and send the other six back down.  Bron will rotate his three for three of that six and send up the next load, and I’ll do the same at the top to send them back down.  Everyone comes up with the last load.  Bron, pick your three.”

They were all pretty much the same to Beam, so he didn’t pay that much attention to which three Bron picked, but started getting the other nine ready for the first load.

“Oh--Dawn, you’re with me.  Bring the beer.”

Soon they were climbing.  Since every man had his toolbox and crosscut saw, they couldn’t carry much of the other stuff, but got the nails, screws, and a few of the two-by-fours.  Beam had his new toolbox and saw, and found the climb easier without his backpack and duffel.  Reaching the pit he had the men set down their loads, including their tools, and picked three to stay with him while he sent the other six down for another load.

“Now,” he said, “the first thing we’re going to need is a ladder.  I suppose we could have bought a ladder, but we can make a ladder, and it will teach you something about how to use the tools.”  Opening his toolbox, he removed his own measuring tape.  He was about to step over to the hole, but realized that the way it was cut it was probably weaker at the edge.  He laid on his belly and crawled closer, while continuing to talk but in a broken form.

“This tool,” he said, “tells you how, long, or far, something is.  I’m going, to, to measure how, deep, it is to, the floor below.”  So saying he began feeding out the tape.  This would work better, he realized, if he had someone at the bottom, but then, he would need a ladder to get someone to the bottom, and he needed to know how long to make the ladder.

He also realized that without someone at the bottom he couldn’t really get an accurate measurement.  That was all right.  All he really needed to know was that he wasn’t going to lose a two-by-four if he tried to stand it in the hole, and he was satisfied that the answer was no, the lumber was long enough.

Coming back to the woodpile, he took a nail from one of the boxes and selected a long beam and dragged it back to the edge, again spreading his weight.  He angled it downward, feeding it into the hole with both hands, until at a steep angle it touched the bottom.  Then about a foot above the edge of the hole he scratched a mark with the nail, and drew the beam out again.  He moved back over by the woodpile.

“O.K., time for some lessons.  First, everyone get your tape measure.  The end has a hook on it.  I want you to measure this two-by-four from that far end to the scratch I made with this nail, right here.  I’ll show you how.”  Having said that, he easily measured the length he needed.  “You’ll see that there are numbers on the tape.  They give you the length in feet and inches or in centimeters.  I don’t care which you use, as long as you always use the same one.

The men lined up and measured the length each in turn.

“Now, you, take my nail, pick another long two-by-four, and measure the same length on that one, and mark it.  And then both of you, check whether you think he got it right.”

This was done, not quickly but effectively, and they agreed on the length.

“Now we can check it by putting the two beams next to each other.”  It was close enough for the purpose.  “Excellent.  Now we need saws.  We are going to learn to cut, and we’ll be doing a fair amount of this to finish our project, but for the moment we just have to make the ladder, and that means cutting these two beams where we marked them with the nail.  We’re probably going to want to build a couple of saw horses eventually, but for the moment we’ll just brace these on our tool chests.”

He set his toolbox in front of him, pulled one of the beams over it, and lined up his saw.  “First,” he said, “you need to draw back along the line you want to cut.  This creates a groove, a starting point for your cut.  You might want to do it several times, until you’re satisfied that the saw will sit in the groove.  Then you push forward,” and he did so.  “The blade of the saw is made of many cutting blades we call teeth, and we say that they bite into the work, in this case the wood.  The teeth are designed to bite when you push forward; you draw back along the same line partly to keep the blade in the cut and partly to clear the debris.

“Notice that the part I am cutting is unsupported.  As I cut, the weight of the extended end will pull the cut open.  Keep an eye on it--if it pulls too far, it can split the work, so you might need to have something or someone lift the end.  Don’t cut between the support and the ground, because if you do the weight is likely to pinch the saw, and you would have to lift the work to get the saw free.

“Now two of you try.  You, take over here, and you, do the other piece.”  He looked at the third man.  “Don’t worry, we’ve got lots of cutting to do.  You’ll get a turn.”

Once the two uprights were cut, he had them turn their attention to cutting the steps.  He decided that six of these would be good, and that if they were eighteen inches long they could overlap the uprights and be wide enough for easy climbing.  The next load was delivered before they were finished.

He sent back his three trainees, and kept the three that had made the ascent twice.  He brought them up to speed on measuring and sawing, and started on constructing the ladder, measuring the distance to each step and marking it, securing the bottom and top steps with nails so that the uprights would be parallel, and installing the other steps equally distant from each other.  The ladder was finished before the next load arrived, so Beam decided to start on the sawhorses--more difficult, but he didn’t have to make them complicated, just functional.

The third load proved to be the last, as Bron brought up the rear.  “Good,” Beam said.  “Now we can get started for real.”

Next chapter:  Chapter 119:  Hastings 222
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #397:  Verser Challenges.  Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.  It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.

As to the old stories that have long been here:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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