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Milling Lumber (grudgingly) #5: Milling Day(s)

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Blog entry by MoshupTrail posted 1017 days ago 1650 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Gathering Downed Trees Part 5 of Milling Lumber (grudgingly) series Part 6: Lessons Learned »

Finally the day has arrived. It’s time to mill the fallen trees from hurricane Irene! I have 36 logs lined up although 4 are little short ones (about 4 ft). The other logs are all 8 1/2 feet in length. By design. More on that in the next post.

The miller came with a Woodmizer T40. Trust me, this is a fantastic machine. It has full hydraulics. You can lift the log, rotate it, and even level it so your cut is always parallel to the pith.

I also had a guy with a large loader. This turned out to be really useful. Initially I had planned on renting a skid-steer loader for the day. But this machine could pick through the stack of logs and select ones to mill first. We chose to mill the largest logs first – judging that a second day would be likely and if we could get the monsters done on Saturday, then we could roll the remaining logs to the mill with cant hooks. That turned out to be a wise decision.

Milling lumber is a labor intensive operation. I have not worked so hard for two full days in a very long time. I had some help and could not have completed the job without it.

By the end of the first day we had two nice stacks 4’ x 8’ x 5’ high. About 700 bd ft each. And we had started a third stack. We did all the large logs and all the quarter sawing on the first day. Unfortunately, that was only 10 of the 32 logs, so we started day 2 with a long line of 22 logs lined up in front of the mill on slabs to make rolling easier.

By day 2, we had developed a pretty good routine. I bought more 4×4 pressure treated boards and set up 3-4 stacks in advance so we could sort as we stacked. 4/4 on one stack, 5/4 on another, and 8/4 on a third. I gave the mill operator instructions to use his judgement in selecting cuts and to give us some variety. That gave him freedom to maximize what he got from each log. It was all red oak except for a few poplar logs and one white oak, but the ends were painted, so we could just sort by size.

At the end of 2 days, I think we had cut close to 3000 bd ft. You can see all the different sizes. There is one small stack of pith cuts. Those are 4×4 and 5×5 centers of the tree where the wood is poorest quality. They will almost certainly develop surface checking and cracks. But I may be able to use them for structural applications that don’t require high quality wood.

In my next post I’m going to give you a list of “lessons learned” and do’s and don’ts. I learned a lot in the past two days. If you’re planning something similar, I’m sure it will be useful.

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.



12 comments so far

View Sawdust2's profile

Sawdust2

1467 posts in 2683 days


#1 posted 1017 days ago

Awesome!

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View HalDougherty's profile

HalDougherty

1820 posts in 1833 days


#2 posted 1017 days ago

Great looking stacks of lumber. Not as nice to look at as your original woods, but much better looking than a pile of firewood. I’m sure whatever is made from them will be both useful and beautiful.

-- Hal, Tennessee http://www.first285.com

View JRL's profile

JRL

104 posts in 1135 days


#3 posted 1016 days ago

Looking forward to the lessons learned entry. Thanks for the great write-up.

-- Jay in Changsha

View JRL's profile

JRL

104 posts in 1135 days


#4 posted 1016 days ago

Too bad there’s no market for sawdust!!

-- Jay in Changsha

View canadianchips's profile

canadianchips

1831 posts in 1593 days


#5 posted 1016 days ago

Contact a chicken or pig farmer, they will take the sawdust.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Jeff in Huntersville's profile

Jeff in Huntersville

398 posts in 1790 days


#6 posted 1016 days ago

Man, am I jealous.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2244 days


#7 posted 1016 days ago

that is an insane amount of lumber! way to go!

gotta love that mountain of sawdust from the woodmizer.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5242 posts in 1194 days


#8 posted 1016 days ago

Could or would you estimate for the costs involved? Rentals, sawyer, helpers, gas, things like that? I am drooling over the lumber pile, but it looks like you are vested pretty heavily in cost and effort. No doubt worth every penny. What are your plans to dry it? Kiln or air, where are you going to store it all? Got your first project in mind yet?Thanks for sharing, that is an awesome stack of lumber. Sorry for all the questions.

View cdbridge39's profile

cdbridge39

154 posts in 1520 days


#9 posted 1016 days ago

Nice wood !!! I got some pecan wood but nothing like that.

-- If it ain't broke don't fix it, if you fix it make it better than it has to be.

View MoshupTrail's profile

MoshupTrail

287 posts in 1077 days


#10 posted 1016 days ago

@ShaneA – You have some good and valid questions. I’m not sure I can answer them yet. In particular, I know that if I’m going to recover any of my costs (as you suggest, they are not insignificant!) I’m going to need to put together a marketing plan. Irene kinda sprang up on me, and I’ve been more concerned with beating the bugs to the logs for the past month. As to drying, I plan to build (at more cost) a solar kiln. This will enable me to sell both kiln-dried and air-dried lumber. Oddly, as I talk to folks, there seem to be two camps; one that will ONLY work with air-dried lumber and another that avoids it and prefers kiln-dried lumber. Go figure. The solar kiln is nice in that there is little risk of case hardening and the lumber is dried “gently”, and you can get 8% MC in 1-3 months.
http://woodscience.vt.edu/about/extension/vtsolar_kiln/

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View MoshupTrail's profile

MoshupTrail

287 posts in 1077 days


#11 posted 1016 days ago

BTW: Take a look at this!

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5242 posts in 1194 days


#12 posted 1016 days ago

Awesome, I love qs oak. Good luck, thanks again for sharing.

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