The “raw” materials
The milling station
This album is dedicated to the infancy stage of the finished products. After some discernment I decided to toss in some photos of the raw milling that goes on and the station and procedures I’ve developed to facilitate this. Here is a picture of the bunk of logs, now completely milled into beams, from the spring of 2020. Each log takes me on average about 40 minutes to mill into a square beam. If you think some of it looks rough, you are very astute. In time, like most things, one develops some efficiencies while putting up with typical inefficiencies and you learn patience and the value of time. The value of a sharp saw chain doesn’t hurt either!
Rough-milled beam sitting in milling station
Rough-milled beams at drying station
Once the logs are rough-milled into a beam, they are forcefully moved by human grit and determination into the somewhat ad hoc drying station where they are put on “stickers” to allow air flow. Until a person can construct a reasonable facility to kiln dry or air dry with a roof, a handy blue tarp does the trick, as long as it is well battened down. Something I have found is I get less “wandering” out of my boards if the beam is dried whole first, rather than taking the wet beam and milling it into boards right away. Now perhaps with state-of-the-art facilities one could mill into boards right away, but that is not the case as of now so we make do with what we have.
Two halves of a milled log
Occasionally I’ll get a log that might be a little too large to get four squares milled off it. In that event I mill it from the top down. This takes longer as I have to take more time with a circular saw to straighten the edges at a later date (assuming I am not fabricating a “live” edge product for someone). In the picture above I have done that very thing and you can see the “live edge” still attached on both sides since I couldn’t get a perimeter mill done on it.
So what do I do with the leftover pieces? Good question. Most of the leftovers I can still mill down on my planer for smaller projects. Some of the material is good “as is” for making walls to deer stands and projects for kids that don’t require a lot of finishing or extra work. Some of them I put in my wood boiler to heat my house. Some is just nice kindling for campfires in the summer. All the bark and leftover sawdust is raked up and tossed back into the woods in places where soils are bare to help keep noxious weeds down and promote nutrient recycling through organic processes.