Milling our Logs

Having realized in a recent post that I had neglected to write about our log milling experience, I’m catching up with this post today.

Back in April we cleared a small section of land on our property. This left us with two large piles of logs, one of which were those deemed straight enough to be milled into lumber. It wasn’t until fall that we got around to having it milled; we didn’t want the stuff to rot over winter (winters are very wet here) and see it all go to waste. Most of the logs were Douglas Fir, which grow like weeds around here and are apparently the best wood for stick-framing, with a handful of Amabalis Fir and Western Redcedar thrown in. Here’s a picture of the log pile not long after they started:

We used the same tree service company that had originally cut these logs: we like the owner and, importantly, we trust him. He sent over two of his guys with a small Bobcat (with a fork on the front to lift and move the logs to the sawmill) and a portable sawmill (it’s bascially on a long, flatbed trailer, thus the “portable” aspect). I’d never seen a sawmill before and it wasn’t what I’d imagined. Instead of feeding logs through a saw, the saw parts travel along the length of the machine. There are spikey bits that poke up from underneath to turn the logs around as they are being cut, and to hold them in place. It was quite fun to watch, and obviously required some skill to use properly.

Because at the time we weren’t sure what exactly we’d be building, we had them cut us a variety of lumber sizes. We asked for 2×6’s, 2×4’s, and 6×6’s. It took the guys about 2 and a half days to mill our pile of logs (plus they managed to pull a couple out of the firewood pile that turned out to be usable). We paid about half of what we would pay to buy the lumber at the local big box hardware store, plus we had the satisfaction of knowing the wood came from trees grown right here on our land.

We’re planning to use the wood for a new barn we’ll be building this Spring (if all goes as planned). Meanwhile the piles of wood, which are raised off the ground and have spacers separating the stack levels, are sitting under giant tarps weighed down with rocks. I’m looking forward to seeing them put to good use!

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4 responses to this post.

  1. That is so cool! I love when you can fully use what is on your own property, especially something so useful. We don’t have any trees nearly large enough for milled lumber. Well, one pine tree is large enough but it’s growing at a steep angle and would not be appropriate for milling.

    There used to be small sawmills in southeastern Arizona up until about 30 years ago, or so I’ve been told.

    Reply

  2. It’s great to have been able to have your own trees milled and it sounds as though it was an enjoyable experience right through to the finished pile. I look forward to reading about the barn project when the building season comes around.
    You guys have accomplished so much since you moved to the country, well done! Isn’t it amazing to be living your dream?

    Reply

  3. so cool. can’t wait to see the barn. bravo

    Reply

  4. […] tall roll outwards and weighed this skirt down with heavy slabs of wood (leftover bits from when we had our logs milled). This is to keep out the rabbits and other digging critters. I’m also going to attach some […]

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