And now for something completely different…
Since 1995, one of my jobs has been as a custom sawyer, milling lumber for clients in Washington, Oregon and Northern California. After I started kayaking, I stopped doing as much sawmilling work, but have been getting back into it lately.
In 1995, after selling my house in Portland, OR, I bought a brand new Woodmizer sawmill, and for about seven years I used that first mill to make most of my living. In 2002, I sold that original mill and bought a used 1996 model with hydraulic log loading and handling features, something I should have gotten with the first one, but I had no idea at that point what I was getting into. I think those 7 years of manual log handling probably took about 7 years off of my lifespan in excessive wear and tear on my body. I do still have all of my fingers, though, and both eyes, so I guess I’m doing all right so far.
The Woodmizer is a horizontally arranged bandsaw, powered by a gasoline engine. The log is loaded onto the carriage, and the sawhead moves back and forth taking slices off of the wood. The whole thing is built onto a trailer axle, so it is very portable. I have set this mill up in some unbelievable places, including in no parking zones in the city more than once.
I have milled everything from veneers and small strips for laminating up to large beams up to almost 30′ long. I have milled pretty much every kind of softwood that grows on the West Coast, and lots of different hardwoods including alder, fruit trees, black locust, madrone and several kinds of oaks and maples. Wood that I’ve milled has been made into sheds, custom homes, barns, corrals, kayaks and other boats, fine furniture and cabinetry.
Over the years I have been involved in a variety of building projects by way of supplying the custom milled lumber. Lately I have been thinking of tracking down some of those building projects and going to visit them. A book, perhaps?
This week I am milling up some Port Orford and Western Red Cedar for a neighbor to finish his pergola project. The PO cedar came from some landscaping trees near his house that blew over earlier in the year, and the red cedar was removed by the PUD to protect the power lines.