Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Zen and the Art of Sanding

They say that 80% of boat building is sanding. Sounds about right to me.

The drone of the orbital (rotary) sander becomes quasi hypnotic. This was less so when I was working on the individual strakes, planks and other components prior to assembling the pram.

But now these components are formed literally into a sound chamber which amplifies the vibrations much like the body of a lute amplifies the oscillations of its strings.

The vibration transferred in the hands last long after the sander is turned off even though I've been working on a "light touch" and wear gloves. Also, I notice that in between coats of varnish the orbital seems to take off more varnish than it should - even at its slowest speed. . What to do?

Switch off the machine and go into manual mode. Okay!

After sanding the fourth coat and wipe off
It'll be slower going but quieter. I might even listen to some music. But wait - its all about focus on the task at hand - being in the moment, you know - concentrate but relax at the same time. So, hold the music.

Mindfulness is what the Buddhist monk, poet and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh calls it. In the Jewish Tradition this state of directed consciousness is known as kavanah. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan explains that kavanah is clearing the mind of extraneous thought and concentrating totally on the action at hand.

A meditation on sanding then... breathe in - breathe out! (BTW: not so easy whilst wearing a breathing apparatus to avoid inhaling the micro-dust.)

With fifth coat of varnish applied
You sand the very same planks over and over again - much like washing dishes - you'll do it again tomorrow. Master Thich Nhat Hand advises: Do not try to hurry to get the job over with. Consider washing the dishes the most important thing in life. - Roger that!

Not much seems different from the last time you did it. You almost have to forget about outcome and simply enjoy the work without some immediate result or completion in mind.

As I sand I don't notice that I am bending my back in awkward ways. But when I stop sanding I ache. Breathe in - breathe out!

As I sand I don't notice that my hand and fingers are gripping the pad a tad too tight. But my finger joints complain about it when I finally rest. Breathe in - breathe out!

As I sand I don't notice that my arm moves more vigorously than might befit my age. But when I stop, my limbs demand that I come to my senses. Breathe in - breathe out!

I almost stopped counting time. I do know that the project tallies well north of 200 hours... but that includes tasks such as building the trailer

What is time when the task is timeless?  And how long exactly is NOW?

1 comment:

  1. Chúng tôi là nhà cung cấp hàng đầu về máy đo khoảng cách, panme đo ngoài, thước cặp điện tử, máy chà nhám rung, máy cắt sắt và nhiều hơn nữa giá cả phải chăng hơn nhiều.