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On the Mill #5: Urban Forestry

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Blog entry by ScottShaeffer posted 141 days ago 803 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Root Bench FAIL! Part 5 of On the Mill series Part 6: Mobility »

“Urban Forestry” is the care of trees growing in or around a city. Most of these trees (millions of them) were planted by humans (land developers, landscapers, individuals, governments, etc.) so there are a huge variety of species that wouldn’t otherwise grow there. In the Denver Metro Area, there are hundreds of thousands of Black Walnut trees for example. Walnut is not a native tree and really doesn’t belong here, but put them all together, and we’ve got our own Walnut Forest! And since the city is over 150 years old, we have a lot of really big trees. Some of our natural forests aren’t even that old (due to fire, weather, beetles, etc).

“Urban Milling” is taking the trees from our city and turning them into usable lumber. Typically, city trees are chipped or chopped or a little of both. “Sawmill” doesn’t usually enter people’s minds when they’re staring at a giant Silver Maple tree laying across their driveway after a late storm. We aim to change that.

We’re working on getting a contract to mill up trees cut by a city forestry department. The city (for now to remain unnamed as the deal is still in the works) has given us unrestricted access to their wood pile to mill up as much as is possible. Every log we mill is one less log they have to push through the chipper – saving them money. On top of those savings, we kick 10% of the sales revenue from the yielded lumber back to the city’s tree fund which pays for new trees to be planted and the care of the millions already standing.

Bottom line: More exotic woods hit the local market at a lower price, city forestry budget increases, local economy profits from local materials, smaller carbon footprint for everyone involved, and the guy standing in his front lawn crying over his Maple tree laying in the driveway has a better option at a lower price. Is that win all around or what?

I wrote this blog entry to encourage you (the woodworker) to seek out urban sawyers in your city and gratefully give them your business because your work feeding their work will feed a system that benefits your entire community. Go you.

To view our urban wood collection, visit our website: WilferMobileSawmill.com

-- Scott Shaeffer, Owner - San Juan Carpentry



10 comments so far

View Fish22's profile

Fish22

53 posts in 1739 days


#1 posted 141 days ago

Scott
Wonderful thing you are doing!

-- Bryan, South River, NJ

View Tim's profile

Tim

1240 posts in 587 days


#2 posted 141 days ago

Keep up the good work. The closest hard wood dealer near me does this and has pretty decent prices.

If I were you I would try to market the recycled/reclaimed angle and try to find a way to brand your stuff. There are lots of people that will pay ridiculous extra money for things made from reclaimed materials and if you can tap into those markets you may be able to raise your prices to them quite a bit.

View TZH's profile

TZH

421 posts in 1766 days


#3 posted 141 days ago

View ShaneA's profile (online now)

ShaneA

5285 posts in 1224 days


#4 posted 141 days ago

Is embedded metal a problem? I always hear that “all” urban trees have metal in them. Do you see a lot, or go through a lot of blades?

View ScottShaeffer's profile

ScottShaeffer

36 posts in 568 days


#5 posted 141 days ago

@ShaneA, you’re right, most urban tress have nails in them. We have to get special blades for urban logs. Partly because our standard blades don’t do well with hard woods and also because nails are a show stopper. The special blade we use is $84 (compared to $30 for the standard) and is made from a much harder steel. It cuts through hardwood like butter and cuts through nails without damaging the blade. I hit 6 nails in a single pass on a Honey Locust with a new blade. I got three more passes with it before deciding it was too dull. All I have to to do is resharpen it and I’m good to go.

-- Scott Shaeffer, Owner - San Juan Carpentry

View gfadvm's profile (online now)

gfadvm

10720 posts in 1315 days


#6 posted 141 days ago

Scott, I’m trying to do the same thing here but having a hard time keeping the tree guys from cutting everything to firewood lengths! And the guys using the saws don’t habla English!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View ScottShaeffer's profile

ScottShaeffer

36 posts in 568 days


#7 posted 140 days ago

@gfadvm, Yeah, I feel ya, brother. That is one of my biggest hurdles as well. I can take logs as short as 4’ but usually they cut them even shorter than that. With those, I cut cross-cuts which are really popular too. The reason they do that is because they can’t move the log because it’s so heavy. If it’s in someone’s back yard where you can’t get the mill, what then? We designed but have yet to build a dolly that we attach to the log and can pull it out like a red wagon sorta thing. The city we’re working with is buying a grapple arm truck so that they can move bigger logs which is going to be pretty awesome. That’s the best answer I have for you, sorry!

-- Scott Shaeffer, Owner - San Juan Carpentry

View gfadvm's profile (online now)

gfadvm

10720 posts in 1315 days


#8 posted 140 days ago

Scott, That remains the biggest stumbling block for “urban logging”. People aren’t willing to drag a huge log across their manicured lawn so they get cut to 20” :(

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13733 posts in 963 days


#9 posted 140 days ago

Great idea about making a deal with the city. I will have to try that locally as well. I will I had that Honey locust that you are cutting up.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13733 posts in 963 days


#10 posted 140 days ago

I am one of the lucky ones, I have only hit nails in one log. The other groups I watch for is trees along a farmers fence line. Because I know my father would nail a fence to anything handy, I watch for signs of this in the trees.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

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