My father always talked about building his own sawmill. After I wrecked our 1978 Pinto Station Wagon in 1983, he went to the junkyard and removed the engine with the intention of using it for a sawmill. Dad never got to build his sawmill, but that engine is still sitting in his old workshop today.
Last weekend, a member of our local Gwinnett Woodworkers Association hired a Wood-Mizer to slice up some logs on his property. This brought back memories of my dad wanting building his own sawmill. The process started with dragging a log to the mill with a tractor and loading it onto the Wood-Mizer.
Once the log was loaded, it was locked into place on the mill and the sawing began. The smell of fresh sawn oak filled the air and brought back memories of oak projects that I've made. Several of the members helped with offloading the lumber which was hard work, especially in the hot Georgia sunshine and humidity.
The sawmill has powered levers that rotate the log. Two or three 1" slices were removed from each side of the log, until there were four square sides. Some of the boards that had bark on them were sliced into 1" strips (stickers) and used for stacking the lumber, or the bark was sliced off to create thinner boards.
In one weekend, the Wood-Mizer guy sliced over 3,000 board feet of oak. Some of the boards were up to 18" wide. He cut the majority of the boards to 1" thick, but some logs were cut into 6" thick slabs, which were very heavy. When milling your own lumber, you can cut it to any width or thickness you desire, but you must wait at least one year per inch of thickness for it to air dry before using it.
I don't see myself ever having a sawmill of my own, but I will say that it sure is fun to watch a log being sliced into lumber! Now I know why my dad wanted to build a sawmill of his own. I still wonder what my dad's vision of a 1978 Pinto Station Wagon Sawmill looked like. And yes, ironically, that car did have "wood" paneling on the sides!