So you want to own a sawmill.....

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Blog entry by sw_iowa_sawyer posted 05-01-2009 10:04 PM 896 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I was a kid I had a paper route and I saved up all my money and bought a little tiny black and white T.V. I would love to stay up late and watch old cliff hanger movies; it was always exciting waiting for the next installment to see what would happen in the story line. I thought I would try a cliff hanger of sorts for my blog, partly because I hope to make it interesting and partly because I have a regular job and have to fit the sawing in when I can. So I will start the saga now with how I ended up with the two walnut logs. It started when I got a call from someone who got my name from someone else and wanted to sell me these two logs. They of course were sure they were worth a vast sum of money because they after all were “walnut” a story I have heard before. I explained that I wasn’t interested and gave them a mill they could call and then forgot about it. Several months later I got another call from the same folks that was basically “please come get these logs out of our yard” I parbuckled them onto a trailer and took them home. That is how I ended up with the logs.
So that is where the saga will begin….
The mill I use is a manual mill so everything is done by hand, and sometimes is rather difficult, and can be downright hard to manage depending on the log size and species. I use two steel ramps, and a boat winch to roll the logs onto the bed of the mill. It works great most of the time….

From the mill head looking forward

So then begins the difficult task of moving a heavy object that is stuck, back to a position that will allow it to be rolled back up and onto the saw. Sometimes the solution is easy, sometimes the solution is a fight against the principals and laws of physics. This time for the most part it was easy re-sling the log adjust the ramp location and bingo!

Here it is the correct location and ready to begin the milling process.

The log is not perfect I have cut much better but, I like walnut, and the three crotches converging interested me enough to give it a shot. What lies beneath the bark is a mystery even to me, figured walnut, a bunch of nails, who knows but we will all find out together.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of the story…
I have kept busy sawing so far this spring sawing basswood and butternut mostly so I needed a change anyhow!

4 comments so far

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 3353 days

#1 posted 05-01-2009 10:15 PM

I was just getting into the story…lol….I like it and await for the next entry of your story. I loved and laughed at the part about “They wanted a vast sum of money because…it was walnut” then a few months later called and asked you to haul them away.

-- Don S.E. OK

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

507 posts in 3543 days

#2 posted 05-01-2009 10:52 PM

“They wanted a vast sum of money because…it was walnut” then a few months later called and asked you to haul them away.

A friend of mine owns a sawmill and a few years back, a huge cypress got stuck in the local park along the river. A friend who worked at the park called and asked if he wanted it. He in turn called someone to move it for him and was told it would be $2000.00. He had decided to go ahead because he wanted some more cypress. About the time he was pulling the trigger, the first friend called back and told him that the supervisor had said he would put it out for “bids”. Charlie said okay, I bid zero. The story continued with a call a few days later that the superintendent of parks for the state had ordered him to get rid of it. Charlie went ahead and took the log and paid 2 grand to have it delivered to his mill. I think he told me he got about $1000.00 worth of cypress out of that tree. Now, he only deals with recycling long leaf pine or fir timbers.
I took look foreward to the next installment.

-- jstegall

View a1Jim's profile


117120 posts in 3604 days

#3 posted 05-01-2009 11:11 PM

Thanks for the Log Mill story It has cured my interest in having one and you haven’t even finished your story.
I’ve seen guys On TV use a metal detector before milling won’t that help with the possibilities of nails ?

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 3749 days

#4 posted 05-02-2009 12:20 AM

I’m enjoying this blog! Why did it have to stop so suddenly?

The log looks like a patient waiting to have his legs amputated, or maybe they already were . . . I happen to love black walnut too, especially the claro/crotch figured stuff.

I just witnessed a neighbor’s 50+ yr. old Oak tree cut down. It was 60-80ft tall and had multiple branches stretching out, one of whch was rotten and endangered the family’s home. The remainder of the tree was still sound, but it was way too large for the small yard. It took 2 days to cut the limbs and trunks down to the last 15 ft. of trunk and then they had to leave an enormous crotch section (6ft x 6ft) to move with a front end loader. The little Catapillar looked like it would tip over from the weight but it managed to get through the fenced in yard and load it on a big truck.

Good thing I don’t like oak, and if I weren’t gimpy from a recent knee operation, I’d be hauling and rolling parts up the hill to my driveway. I can frequently relate to the antics of an ant hauling a grasshopper leg.

Please DO continue with this blog!

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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