Home Saw Mills
|There comes a time when we want to mill our own lumber, maybe it is just a tree in the back yard that has to come down and it is too valuable for firewood, or you may have acres of timber to choose from. This can be a simple matter of splitting logs with wedges and a sledge hammer into smaller sections so they can be cut on your bandsaw or you can set up your own saw mill.
If you have a chain saw there are attachments with different arrangements of guides and rails to get the job done, if you have a lot of material to cut it may be worth your while to find someone local with a larger portable mill.
You can air dry lumber properly stacked to a state where it is suitable for outdoor projects, for indoor use the moisture content must be lowered further, preferably in a kiln, however it can be done in a heated basement or attic.
Chain Saw Mills
|Band Saw Resawing
Lumber is either quartersawn or plainsawn, the advantage of quartersawing is that the growth rings are perpendicular to the face of the board, producing a more stable product that will not tend to cup. Plainsawn will produce wider material and a different surface grain than quartersawn lumber which is sometimes desired.
The log is sliced in one direction through-out.
This can be done in various configurations.
The ends of logs should be coated with sealer as soon as they are taken from the woods, store the logs off the ground. If the ends of the logs have not been coated with sealer then the ends of the sawn boards should be done. Latex paint will work in a pinch if you do not have actual end sealer.
Soaking in water is sometimes used as a good preparation for air-seasoning. Previous soaking hastens seasoning. River men insist that timber is improved by rafting. It is a common practice to let cypress logs soak in the swamps where they grow for several months before they are "mined out." They are eagerly sought after by joiners and carpenters, because their tendency to warp is lessened. Ebony is water-soaked in the island of Mauritius as soon as cut. Salt water renders wood harder, heavier, and more durable and is sometimes applied to ship timbers, but cannot be used with timbers intended for ordinary purposes, as the presence of salt tends to absorb atmospheric moisture.
Lumber will dry best if its thickness is no greater than 2 inches and no less than 1 inch. If thicker pieces are needed, glue planed boards together to the desired thickness when they are dry.
Select a site that is flat, your stack should be 1 to 2 feet off the ground to allow air circulation, old railway ties, or concrete blocks are a good base, they should be 16" to 24" apart. Place stickers on top of the bottom supports, and between each layer of lumber. the stickers should be 3/4" thick and 1" to 2" wide, you can also use narrow boards from the material being stacked.
Do not let the ends of the boards protrude over the supports, lay boards of even thickness in each layer, spaced about 1" apart, make sure the stickers are directly on top of the ones below, otherwise the boards will bend from the weight on them.Shorter boards can be laid end to end between rows of longer boards.
Cover the stack, preferably with plywood or sheet metal to shed rain water and protect the stack from direct sunlight. Place concrete blocks on top of covering above stickers to hold it in place and to prevent top layer of boards from warping.
Be patient, this is an air drying method and will take at least a month, probably longer. A 2" thick board will take 1 1/2 times as long to dry as a 1" thick board. Times will be shorter when it is warm and dry, wet and cold weather can double the time. Your wood is air dry when the moisture content is 15 - 20%, this is determined with a moisture meter.
If you do not have a meter you can roughly calculate the moisture content by obtaining a 2" cross section sample of the lumber. Weigh the sample section with an accurate kitchen scale, dry the sample in a low heat oven (225 degrees F ) for 12 hours, weigh the sample as soon as it is taken from the oven. Calculate the moisture content:
(Wet weight divided by oven weight) -1 X 100
Air dried wood is suitable for outdoor construction, for indoor use it must be taken down to 7 - 9%.
Small amouts can be done in a warm attic in summer or a heated basement in winter, for larger amounts a solar kiln is recommended.
Information about and plans to build a solar kiln can be found on this site:
More information about drying lumber can be found at theses sites: