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.