three foot diameter butternut logs: How do I mill these?

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Forum topic by GMB on the beach posted 08-22-2012 08:30 AM 2945 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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GMB on the beach

2 posts in 2440 days

08-22-2012 08:30 AM

Topic tags/keywords: butternut logs log milling milling question

We just salvaged about 1000 bf of butternut that was dying. Most of it is now in 8 to 10 ft logs of 2 to 3 1/2 ft in diameter. The logs are still in the bush, sitting up on cross logs. I have no idea what to do now. I would love to make a butternut harvest table and maybe a counter top. Also want to use some of the larger cross cuts as side/coffee tables. I don’t think we can get a portable mill very close, although I don’t know much about this, and these logs weigh several hundred pounds each. Any suggestions? Also, should I be painting the ends with wax or shellac?

-- gmb on the beach

9 replies so far

View WDHLT15's profile


1747 posts in 2501 days

#1 posted 08-22-2012 11:46 AM

You will have to skid them out to a place that the portable sawmill can access them.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2136 days

#2 posted 08-22-2012 01:40 PM

Wrap a chain around them one at a time and use a tractor to drag them out to where you can get a portable saw mill. You can find people with a saw mill that will come to your location to saw them; usually they charge 30-50 cents per board foot. If they break a blade, you get to buy them a new one.

I would saw it thick, about 12/4s, coat the ends. and sticker it for drying. You could look for someone who will kiln dry it for you

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View woodtools's profile


21 posts in 2314 days

#3 posted 08-22-2012 01:57 PM

Along with the other suggestions, I have been doing a little chain saw milling of douglas fir, up to 30 inch diameter and air drying it. I have used wax and no wax on the ends of the milled lumber and my experience says, wax or seal the ends for sure to minimze checking.

View HerbC's profile


1763 posts in 2884 days

#4 posted 08-22-2012 02:41 PM

You mentioned wanting to make side/coffee tables from “cross cuts.” I think you should reconsider that design option since the “cookies” as they are know will invaribly split during the drying process.

You might want to try to locate a miller who has a “swing-mill” sawmill that could be packed into the site and do the sawing on site. Your weight estimate is probably a little low. A 10’ long 42” diameter butternut log should weight approximately 4,400 pounds while a 8’ long 24” diameter butternut log would weigh in the neighborhood of 1,100 pounds. It would be a lot easer to pack out the lumber than it would to extract the logs if you don’t have adequate heavy equipment available to move the logs.

Good Luck!

Be Carful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

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Mainiac Matt

8089 posts in 2354 days

#5 posted 08-22-2012 03:16 PM

I milled a lot of big logs on my house site…

They had to be skidded out to a flat accessible area to which the mill can be towed and set up.

You’ll want to hire a mill that has hydraulic arms to lift the big logs onto the mill.

Try to keep the logs clean while skidding them (pick one end up and only alow one point on the other end to touch the ground) . Some of my large logs that had to be skidded out of a boggy area wound up caked in mud and I had to debark them b4 the miller would put them on his Woodmizer… (cutting thought muddy logs isn’t especially healthy for the band saw blades).

Fortunately, these were freshly cut pine logs in the summer and with the right tools (special long handled chisels with spoon shaped blades called “spuds”) the bark came off in large sheets. There was so much sap in the cambium that I was soaking wet by the time I finished.

If you don’t have the equipment to skid these out yourself… the entire operation might not be cost effective.

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2290 days

#6 posted 08-22-2012 09:24 PM

Use wax or Anchorseal on the ends. In a pinch, use latex paint.

You’ll need to drag them out with a truck or tractor like everyone else has said.

If they are indeed 36”, you might lose some of that to the milling process (a lot of portable mills can’t handle more than 30” wide).

As Herb said, these are going to be way heavier than a few hundred pounds.

How many logs are there?

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Twigs's profile


1 post in 1551 days

#7 posted 03-23-2014 11:31 AM

I have two sawmills available, one will cut to 36 inch slabs. Interested in shares?

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 1974 days

#8 posted 03-23-2014 02:41 PM

something like this would make it easier to move.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3738 days

#9 posted 03-23-2014 09:32 PM

Way back, when I wore a younger man’s clothes, I worked hauling wood out of some second growth forest. The best time to move wood was winter when the snow kept things a lot cleaner and it was far cooler to do the felling’ limbing and cutting to length. We were dropping pines about 70ish feet high and around 3 feet across at breast height. Generally we’d try to bunch two or three together to drag ‘em out of the bush. We were using either an Ford 9N or a IH B275 so we couldn’t load up too many at once or they’d not have the weight to drag the trees, especially on the up or down slopes on the far side of the little creek we had to cross. Other than sawdust, pine needles :-) and snow the logs were pretty clean. They went through a circular saw not a bandsaw so grit wasn’t quite as critical although I do seem to remember spending a LOT of time sharpening chains and that big ol’ saw. Gives me the willies now thinking about the complete absence of guards or shields.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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