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Farm and Forest David's Mill 

David's Mill

In 1998 David Haenke bought a one-person Peterson sawmill. Since then he has been milling logs harvested from a local forest that he manages. He wants to see if he can make more money milling them himself than selling them to a sawmill. A key to doing this is getting the most lumber from each log. Here he shows us how his mill works and how he gets the most from each log. 

David has cut these logs from the nearby forest. He leaves the best trees standing. They'll get more valuable over time. You can read more about this in Low grading vs. High Grading.
The mill is a small one-person operation. He doesn't have to pay somebody to help him, and he wants to show that other people can do this too. A gasoline engine powers the saw. He hauls in gas for the saw.
The saw blade. You can see why David is a very careful worker! He has to resharpen it after sawing just a couple of oak logs. It lasts longer when he cuts softer pine logs.
David lifts a big log with a winch. He's had to learn how to move large logs safely by himself. It goes onto a cradle between the rails. It must be steady for an even cut.
The mill runs on rails over logs placed between them. One person can push it easily.
He has found the best way to set the log. Now he anchors both ends to the bottom of the mill frame. That will steady the log while he's sawing.
He supports the center of the log with wooden wedges. It might sag from its own weight otherwise, making for an uneven cut.
He has put the best side up. Getting the most lumber from it depends on how he begins cutting into the top. He has made a vertical cut and now slices through horizontally.
One half has come off.
The other half comes off.
David makes another horizontal cut deeper into the log.
After he has cut part way into the log, he starts cutting boards out vertically. He keeps turning the saw blade as he works his way through the log.
This finished product will go to a local purchaser. He mills lumber to sizes needed by his customers. "Slabs" (round, bark-covered sides of logs) are left over from milling.
Sawdust, another end product, goes to local gardeners. David sells the oak slabs for firewood, but pine slabs are hard to get rid of. 

Text and photos by Peter Callaway.

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