Tag Archive | big

Log Wins, Welding Begins

I own and run a TimberKing 1220 manual sawmill. The manual part means that it is not automated and less expensive than other bigger models. I have had several other sawmills, and overall I am happy with this one, though I would always like a bigger and better one. It is a small entry-level mill, but can still cut a log up to 30″, which is big.

In most ways my TimberKing mill is strong enough to handle the bigger logs, even though it is not really made for them. However, there is one area that I have found severely lacking, and that is the log supports. You see, when you put a log on the mill it may roll off, so the mill has two or three posts that can be raised into a vertical position to catch and hold the log during milling. They also can be lowered out of the path of the bandsaw blade when needed. The posts need to be strong enough to support the log in a resting position, and be able to handle the pressure placed on them when turning a log. They also need to be square to the bed to help make a round log into square lumber.

The log supports on my mill don’t do any of these things well. They are made from dainty little pieces of steel that can bend quite easily and are never square to the bed. Through the years I have bent them back – never to square, but back enough to support the logs. When I want a square cant (squared up log), I take the time to shim the log and use a carpenter’s square to make sure that everything is copacetic.

Both uprights (red) bent like wet noodles

Close-up of the upright, which used to be close to vertical and somewhat straight

Well, this week I finally did it. I put a large elm log on the mill, and I was adjusting it with a big loader when the log just rolled over the supports and off of the mill. It didn’t even notice they were there. The uprights looked like limp noodles, and it is obvious they aren’t going back to any acceptable shape. I bent them more than enough to finally provoke myself into making new ones.

The good news is that I bought the steel to do it a while ago, but have just never taken the time to do it. Looks, like now is the time.

Big White Oaks

I want to have this blog be mostly educational, while at the same time entertaining. This one is more for entertainment.

It started with a call about having a tree milled. I talked to Ron (a first-time customer) on the phone to see what he needed. He said that he had a white oak that was down and another that he was going to have taken down, and that he wanted to find out about milling. We talked about sizes and basic pricing for my services and he agreed to have them milled. Ron told me they were about 30″ in diameter on the phone and didn’t sound at all excited about the size of the trees. In my experience that 30″ tree, especially if the customer isn’t gushing about how big it is, is only about 20″ in diameter. Still a good tree, but not that big.

I thought I would just stop by with my truck and load them up on my way to get another tree, assuming that I could get a couple of logs on my truck and have room for a few more. Well, I found Ron’s house at the end of a narrow lane, and all I could see in the clearing was log. Scratch that, logs – big logs. I knew that I was going to have to regroup after I saw the size of these trees. They weren’t the biggest that I have milled (I included a photo of that one too), but they have the most board feet for two trees. In total, the nine logs scale out (Doyle) to about 2500 board feet. My truck can handle about 900 board feet at a time if they fit perfect, but these were not going to fit perfect (more like just barely). I knew I would be lucky to get two on at a time, so I had to call in some backup. Did I mention that these were big?

Anyway, I have them back at the mill now and have started milling them. Most of them are going to be quartersawn, while the upper logs are going to be cut thicker for slabs to show off the curly lumber around some of the big branches. So far, two of them are milled and they look great. Oh, and big!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Big Walnut, No Nails

I get all of my logs from the St. Louis area, and most of them come from yards. After the tornado that went through this spring, I picked up a lot of cherry and a few nice walnuts. Two of them, which happened to be from the biggest walnut I have personally been involved with, I sold to David Stein, a custom woodworker in Illinois. David was happy to get the logs because of their size, which would work well for his large slab tables. There were, however, some blue/gray stains at the end of the bottom log that indicate metal within and were the main reason I didn’t sell it to a larger commercial veneer/log buyer. Luckily for me, David was willing to give the log a go. Unluckily for David, it was the most metal infested log he ever milled. He planned to have a few pieces with metal, but ended up with metal in every one. Hopefully, David will be able to get something useable out of the two logs (I don’t think the top log had metal in it, but it was much lower grade).

This large walnut was sure to have a little metal in it.

So, yesterday, with David in mind, I put a large walnut on my mill that came from only a few yards away from his (interestingly enough, I found walnuts in only one block in the entire city of Ferguson). It was a bottom log, so I got out my metal detector and scanned the log – nothing. I scanned again, this time focused about five feet from the ground where at least one nail was sure to be found – nothing. This tree had a swing in it and it came from an open back yard with only a couple other trees. It was a perfect candidate for a good hook or screw of some sort. Maybe higher – nothing. Lower – nothing. I milled this entire log and amazingly, hit only a few bullets near the base, which the mill didn’t mind.

I was astonished once the walnut was milled that the lumber was so nice and produced without incident. There are no photos of giant hooks protruding out of the log or broken bandsaw blades, but I thought you might enjoy some photos of the milling anyway. The log was busted a little at the bottom when it was uprooted, but I was able to work around the cracks and only lost the ends of some lower grade boards in the middle of the log.

%d bloggers like this: