Make Your Own Lumber With a Chainsaw Mill
Categories: Tips & Tricks
All alone—without a tractor, horse, or sled—you can actually move 50-foot logs out of the deepest woods and get your building lumber for practically nothing but your labor.
I made this discovery when I set out to build a three-story, passive solar home. One of the first things I did, of course, was price the lumber I'd need ... and I was shocked to learn that one 2 X 6 can cost $4.00! (And, as you probably know, such "commercial" boards actually measure only 1 1/2" X 5 1/2") I soon realized there was no way I could afford to buy the quantity of lumber I'd need.
Great Good Luck
However, as I'm a resolute "youngster" of 67—with abundant good health and vitality—it didn't take me long to find the solution. My answer took the form of a chainsaw mill, an ingenious little device that cost me $44.95 and enabled me to obtain all the one-inch planks, 2 X 4's, 2 X 6's, and 2 X 10's (all of which were a full two inches thick) I needed—plus the necessary 4 X 4's, 6 X 6's, and so forth—from my own woodlot at nearly no cost.
I'd found my answer when—by great good luck—I'd noticed an advertisement in THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS for a chainsaw attachment called the Lumber/Maker, produced by Haddon Tools. My letter of inquiry brought me a small booklet entitled "The Chain Saw and the Lumber/Maker," which convinced me to try the device.
As it turned out, this lightweight bronze tool—which I attach to my 20-inch Jonsereds chainsaw—has been worth its weight in gold! I've spent some of the most invigorating, enjoyable, and rewarding weeks of my life ... deep down in the woods, slicing immense trees into boards.
Fortunately, one section of our Quebec farm contains hundreds of huge cedars. The growth is so dense, in fact, that it would be impossible to drive even the smallest tractor into those woods. So even though we have enough timber there to construct several houses, there's no way to mechanically haul a single tree out ... but I got my lumber anyway!
Bringing the Harvest Home
First, I cut each desired tree down and trimmed around it until the trunk was lying fairly horizontal and as close to the ground as possible (a job which was not always easy to accomplish in the thick woods!). Then I lopped off all the branches, and cleared the cuttings and brush well out of the way before proceeding with the next step ... which was to cut the tree into the desired size of lumber.
To do so, I attached the Lumber/Maker to my saw's chain bar with the three case-hardened screws that Haddon provided, nailed a "guide board" in place on the log, and—commencing at one end of a 10-foot trunk—it took only four minutes to slice off one round side. After the timber's opposite side had also been cut away, I rolled the log over with my peavey ... braced it with rough wooden wedges ... sliced off the two remaining barked sides ... and—lo and behold!—had a beautiful four-sided cant that measured 20 inches square by 10 feet long. Once I'd cut the trimmed tree in half down the center, I had two 10" X 20" timbers, and these were soon sliced into full-sized 2 X 10's. What a thrill that was!
Now ... how did I get the boards the quarter-mile out to where my truck was parked? Why man, I just carried 'em out, three at a time, on my shoulders! Sure, it took many trips back and forth, but I can't think of any work more healthful (and delightful) than ambling along that well-worn trail in the majesty of the forest, shifting my burden from one shoulder to another until I had a full truckload.
A Happy Testimonial
Although I had bought a special ripping chain to use with the tool, Mr. Jesse Haddon (who wrote me several letters containing helpful advice) told me that such an accessory wasn't really necessary ... and he was right! My standard chains, which I keep sharp, slice through 10-foot logs easily. Also, by using the regular chain I can crosscut the trees, as well ... without having to change my saw's revolving "blade."
All in all, the homegrown chainsaw mill has been one of the most pleasant and rewarding purchases I've ever made ... and one which will probably never wear out, either. Not only does it accurately saw any thickness of wood, but I'm very pleased with the beautiful "rough-cut" finish on the sawn boards ... and will never sand them. (I've already made six two-inch-thick doors, and their rough texture—finished in several coats of linseed oil and turpentine—draws compliments from all who see them.)
Now, thanks to the Lumber/Maker, I have a huge stack of wood—of all sizes—with which to build my solar house. The cost? Shucks, it was practically nothing ... just a few dollars for gas, oil, and a spare chain.
Perhaps even more rewarding than the fact that I've saved a great deal of money, however, is the satisfaction that comes with the work. On one particular day, for example, I came across a lone 40-foot tree that was about to topple ... cut it down and into three 12-foot logs ... and ended up with 60 full-sized 12-foot 2 X 10's! The peaceful, satisfied sleep that followed that day's labors is the kind of "luxury" that no amount of cash can buy!
by John Pitt