Saturday, November 8, 2008

Layin' Down My Mad Iron Age Skills

Yesterday I was splitting some wood I had cut from the fallen beech tree when I got a glimpse of human history.  The grain of the beechwood is twisty and irregular so even landing a solid whack with a steel maul usually only results in a shallow dent. It's some tough wood.

So what I have to do is sink a steel wedge into  the large stump with a sledge hammer. Then with the hammer side of the maul I pound and pound and pound between 5 to 20 times before the chunk of beech splits open.

Even cutting and splitting easier wood in any reasonable timeframe requires an iron axe at the very least. Copper would be way too soft. Bronze, maybe, but still pretty soft.

Without iron, we would stare helplessly at trees. They would be solid, enduring objects we had little influence over. Sure we could take down a tree with stone or copper, but it would take so long as to be nearly impractical.  And once down, then would come the daunting task of hewing it into timber or sectioning it into firewood. And forget about working with wood with any precision to make wheels or furniture or wooden for clearing the land for cultivation, forget about it.

Without that one material, Iron, all the heating, industiral, and constructive benefit of wood would be locked up into solid, seemingly impregnable objects. We'd be pretty helpless to do anything to or about the trees in the world.

1 comment:

UR said...

You know there's this thing now called a chain saw. They work pretty good if you take care of them and yes I do beleive there is some metal in them. I can see your point though that with a sledge and a maul you have alot more time for continplation.