As you will be well aware, I have been absent here for some time. Work and other obligations have made it very difficult to find time to write. I have done some woodworking, but have not documented the projects very well. I’m hoping to write a few posts showing what I have been unto lately and share some projects and new tools.
To get started, I thought I’d share with you a lucky recent lumber acquisition.
A friend of mine from my local woodworking club asked for some help in getting logs out of the woods and onto his mill. He wanted to trade some of the wood for help moving and milling the logs. A couple of trees (Western Hemlock) had fallen on his 20 acres and he had cut them into 11-foot logs. He has a very nice Wood-Mizer with all the hydraulic bells and whistles, but getting the logs to the mill was a massive chore.
I took my utility trailer to his property and we used hand winches, cables, and chains to pull the logs up onto the trailer. After driving to the mill (on another part of his property), we then had to rig the winches again to drag the logs back off the trailer and position them in a way that they could be rolled onto the mill. Some of the bigger logs, were really heavy and I was only able to move one log at a time. There were seven or eight logs in all. Getting the logs out of the woods and back to the mill took all day and was pretty tiring. We finished the day with milling one of the logs, which my friend then gave to me.
This was the first time the I had helped to operate a sawmill and it was lots of fun.
I was asked what I wanted to mill the log into. I really had no idea how I was going to use this wood. I decided that 5/4″ lumber would probably be useful in a variety of ways, so I asked him to flitch saw the log at 5/4″ thickness. I figured that this way, the lumber should be dry in about a year, and I could start finding a good use for it.
I think the most common use for Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) is for house framing lumber. My local Home Depot only carries this species in their 2 x material and it’s crap. Massive growth rings and curved like a banana. Instead, I shop at a local building supply store where they carry No. 1 Douglas fir, which is way better.
Back to the point at hand, the lumber we were getting off the sawmill seemed pretty nice. Too nice for framing anyway. I figured that 5/4 lumber should get me a 1-inch finished board if I want anything heavy duty (like a tool chest carcass) and I might even be able to re-saw two ½-inch boards out of it, if it doesn’t cup while drying and I’m very careful.
When I got home from a long day in the woods, my daughter helped me stack and sticker the lumber in the correct flitch orientation.
The following weekend, I went back to help finish milling the logs.
I ended the day with another trailer load of hemlock, again all from a single log. This time the log was halved lengthwise and then cut into boards. This resulted in boards that were a little narrower, but that all had one straight edge.
We also experimented with some Red Alder (Alnus rubra). With one small log, we wedged it in the mill at an angle so that we could cut it on the bias. This resulted in some interesting shaped pieces. I’m not sure what I will do with them, but we’ll see.
On another alder log, we were able to cut four nice sized boards, one of which my friend gave to me to bring home.
I live in the Pacific Northwest and this lumber is going to be stored outside to dry. My friend suggested that I take out a little insurance policy against a bug infestation by spreading the wood with Timbor. When I got home, my daughter was really thrilled to find out that we were going to un-stack all the wood from the previous week, treat it with insecticide, and re-stack it along with the new trailer full.
I mixed the Timbor in my garden sprayer and coated both sides of each board. Here’s what I ended up with:
The widest boards are about 12″ across, but those on the left are more in the 6″-8″ range. They are all just over 11 feet long.
I hope to have more posts in the future. Hopefully before this lumber dries.
All the best,