First Sawmill Run

P7130019.jpgWe used the sawmill for the first time today. Great fun and very productive.

By the way, the mill is the 13 horse model from SMG Morewood. I shopped pretty hard and this one seems competitive with the Norwood and the Woodmizer LT15, and it’s two grand less than the Woodmizer and one grand less than the Norwood. I drove up to Quebec City and picked it up back in April. I only got the carriage, and assembled a track on 3×5 angle iron. I do wish I’d gotten the track from SMG (Scierie Mobile Gilbert, BTW, what’s the difference between a Scierie, a Moulin de Scie, and a Moulin de Bois? I saw all three terms in use in Quebec.) but getting a 21′ x 30″ piece of steel down here was more than the pickup could handle, and shipping would have been $800, much more than the base cost.

P7130001.jpgAnyway, we assembled the base out in the new garden last week, and this week we dragooned Jeremy into helping us put the carriage into the pickup, and then take it off again at the other end. It plopped right in place, backward. So we dragged Jeremy out again, turned it around and started playing.

P7130023.jpgWhat we primarily want to start with is 6 x X cants: we’re making raised beds in the new garden, with a goal of 4×16 outside dimension, with 6 inch walls. This is deliberately thick enough to comfortably sit on, and still leave three foot of soil, 18″ being a comfortable reaching depth. Lisa also wants them to be 2 ft high, so that requires a bunch of 6 by for each bed. We have also decided to build Lisa’s garden shed out of logs (that is 6 by cants) as a dress rehearsal for our log library tower. So all in all, we need an astronomical amount of 6 by lumber.

We actually started with 2 logs from a smaller red maple tree (it was where the first bed is going). Basically we got a 4×4 out of each. My plan is to switch our compost bins over to 2×4 cribbing, in sizes suitable for turning with the tractor bucket–6’x6′ or some such. And of course we can always find a use for 2 or 4 x 4.

Princess kitty supervisingWith Princess Kitty supervising, we then cut up a larger sugar maple, also cut for the garden. We got three 8 ft logs from it. (the firewood and chips we got last week). I wanted to try for a 16, but we had nothing but peaveys to move it, and it had quite the bend anyway, peaking right at the 8′ point.

P7130040.jpgWe got a lot more board feet by doing three 8s. So we have 2 6×6, 1 6×5 and about 50 board feet of FAS [firsts and seconds, a lumber grade, the top of the line] and number one (mostly FAS) sugar maple stickered in the basement. I could have made 6x8s of the big guys, but that FAS board just seemed worth grabbing. We want a dining room table, hundreds of feet of bookshelf, and hardwood paneling is lovely.

P7130033.jpgThe slab is mostly stacked for chipping, with a couple of pieces thick enough for firewood. I think that as I get better, and can estimate how deep to make the opening cut, there’ll be more firewood and less chips. It does feel good to use the whole tree. Nothing gets left to rot (except on the compost pile.) We use chips, firewood and lumber. The sawdust joins the chips.

An incredibly fun and productive day.

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