I would estimate that over 95% of the logs we pick up go straight to a local mill (after trimming and scanning at our lot) for pallet, blocking and ties. I have mentioned this before, but the remaining ~5% are the kind of logs that make woodworkers sit up and take notice so we had them sawn into boards that we dry and sell to make this whole enterprise work. We have worked with a number of different sawyers over the past 13 years, some very good, others not quite what we wanted. There were errors in communication, short cuts taken that compromised quality, and lots of time hauling logs one way and boards the other. It was time to saw our own.
It seems obvious now, but aside from the capital outlay there is considerable time to invest in running a sawmill and Joe (our only employee) hauls logs full time. No matter, we had everything else needed (more than can be said for some of the mill owners we used) to be efficient: a forklift, kiln, and some space. Here is our new Timber King 2000 ripping through a smaller walnut log:
We can get nice walnut boards from a log like that much faster than hauling it an hour away and making a second trip to pick up the boards. But the real benefit of sawing our own is getting exactly what we want from each log. Here is a good example, a big sycamore, too big for the mill (that is a 36" bar for scale):
Joe chain saws it in half and gets it on the mill.
We only want quartersawn boards from this sycamore and it takes extra time and effort to get that. Here is a maneuver you won't likely see the $X/bf sawyers taking:
So instead of 50-70% QS and the rest being rift sawn, we get close to 100% QS boards like this:
Or like this white oak:
There is more to this story and this blog will be one place to see more. We have not had any trouble selling the best quality wood - it flies out of here - and we will now have more of the good stuff than ever before. It feels a lot like "what took us so long to figure this out" but whatever the excuse was, it is all better now. Well, not completely. There is a big pile of logs to be sawn.