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Here's a photo of the 8 foot section being squared up.
A neighbor of mine had a 16 inch diameter Cherry tree come down in his yard during a recent storm. It was going to be cut up for firewood, but he said he would be glad if it could be put to better use, so I called a local sawyer with a portable mill.
On a crisp, but sunny December day, the sawyer pulled up next to the tree and set up the mill. He charged a certain amount per hour, which was very reasonable, and I was the “helper” for the day.
The best part of the log was about 14 feet long and 16 inches in diameter. It was straight for 8 feet and then took a little turn for the other 6. We cut it at the 8 foot point and I decided to have that section cut at 4/4 thick. I had the 6 foot section cut thicker for legs and such, at 10/4.
There were also a few shorter 3 foot long pieces that I had squared up. One a full 16 inches square, and the second 11 inches square. I’ll turn these into solid breakfast bar stools or maybe end tables.
To start sawing we first moved the logs up to the mill with peavy’s. Once the log was at the side of the mill, two hydraulic “arms” pick up the log and place it on the bed of the mill. Then a little spiked “hand” helps to roll the log into place up against a system of movable fences that adjust in height along the back. The whole system worked very smoothly, and the bandsaw itself cut through the log much faster than I thought it would.
What a great way to spend a saturday afternoon. The sawyer was a downright pleasant guy and a lot of fun to work with. And being there to see the wood exposed, thinking about how you want to use the wood, and deciding how to cut it up in real time, was real fun.
This was the largest diameter piece of the tree.
The largest diameter piece was short (about 3 feet long) but ended up being 16 inches square.
The best boards came from the 8 foot long section. I had one edge ripped straight and the other edge left natural. This let the boards be as wide as possible about 14 inches) while still having a straight edge to join. I'll use these for table tops - two boards joined with a natural outside edge.
Here are the two large blocks and some of the thick pieces from the 6 foot section.
Check out the grain in the 16 inch square block.
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Over the past 3 years in the greenspace directly behind my brother's house in the Muskoka area of Ontario, Canada, there have been two blowdowns of several sugar maple trees from storms. These nice straight 12-16 inch diameter trees stopped falling at a 45 degree angle, fetched up in other trees. The town (who own the greenspace) came and fell them the rest of the way but I requested that they leave them whole instead of chopping them small and removing them. They complied and I then cut them into 5-6 foot lengths so they would fit on my utility trailer (we estimated one load was about 1500 lb. - they were heavy!) and took them to a sawyer. I got over 600 bd ft of 4/4, 5/4, and 8/4 lumber, all hard maple. Total cost was less than $100. Very economical way to obtain nice wood. But I agree that there is a risk you will have to pay for damage to the sawyer's equipment if he encounters buried metal - luckily I did not. I stickered it and air-dryed it in my small backyard.
A word of advice. Many sawyers will not cut yard trees, or if they do they will have you agree to pay costs if they hit metal. Many trees that are near houses have had spikes, hooks, fence wire or other metal attached to them over the years and hidden by later growth. It is quite expensive in broken teeth or bands, time consuming to replace damaged blades, and dangerous for the sawyer or bystanders when metal is encountered. Don't be surprised if you get turned down on sawing that favorite tree with the perfect log.
Don in Vermont
The Wood Miser website has a listing of owners who are interested in milling. There is a website, ArboristSite.com that has a section on Milling where the people who have mills congregate and communicate. However, remember that this group tends to be more professional types who will not want to deal with yard trees where someone has a 12" walnut tree next to their home that they think is worth a million dollars. So if you go there, be prepared for some rejection. Many times, Craigslist has solicitations from mill owners as well. Your local woodworking club or guild will also have contacts. Each state also has a state forester and many of them maintain lists of mill owners. One just needs to search for contacts.
Thanks BetsyE - great information!
Here's a link to a list of sawyers and mini mills that we've accumulated:
Wood-Mizer (www.woodmizer.com) provides many services for their customers (the sawyers). You may get some ideas from them on how to locate a sawyer. I have a person to recommend in Southern Maine if you're interested.
Really, I would ask around town. Local firewood sellers, landscapers, the guy who owns the hardware store - someone may know someone who has a mill. You can also search online, or maybe put an add in your local paper.
I figured about 225-250 board feet of lumber between the 8 foot length section, the 6 foot section and the two 3 foot long blocks. There were a few other small pieces, plus I did cut up all the branches for my wood-fired grill.
The 36" diameter oak sounds like a beauty. I think the mill that cut the cherry log had a 26 or 28 inch capacity, so I would double check with the sawyer you find to see if his mill will handle the 36 inch diameter. I would guess you would get about 900 board feet.
How many board feet did you end up getting? I have an Oak tree that died on me last summer. It has a 36" diameter and is stright for about 20 feet. I was wondering how many feet I might get out of it.
Ask around in your locale. I found an orchardist, an engineer, and a local retired guy that all have these types of saws. Also, if you live in an area with any Amish, often many members of those communities have saws, but you have to get the wood to them.
This incredible. I have a few trees in my yard that need to come down and I would rather not make mulch out of a lot of it. Sooo...I would like to know how one goes about looking for a sawyer? Any and all help is appreciated. Thankyou.
I was cutting some dovetails recently. Here are the tools that I use when I cut them with hand tools.
The Shakers had this diminutive design pegged
Fast, fun approach to making a comfortable, casual seat
In this video Michael finishes the first of the three boxes. Gluing-up, planing, sanding and finishing bring a new piece of art to the world.
In this video Michael starts work on the second box, a carved and painted Saddle lid box.
Michael begins carving the saddle lid box with his ripple pattern along the top. Then turns to his 5/30 gouge to texture the sides of the box. This isn't work…
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